Updated: May 27
A Blog Series
Hotels, Motels and Tourist Courts
The early hotels here in Eureka Springs were frame structures. However, most of these have been lost to fire or later salvaged for wood.
The Piedmont Hotel at 165 Spring Street is a two-story frame boarding house constructed in 1881. This building is representative of the earliest structures in Eureka Springs built to accommodate the visitor in its two-story frame Folk-Victorian style.
A smaller version of early lodging is The former Lamont Hotel at 138 Spring. Perched on a rock cliff, the Lamont is a two-story frame building with steep gable roof and front gable dormer. A two-story porch spans the front of the Lamont Hotel, affording a view of Harding Springs across the street and the downtown beyond. Generous use of porches, often two-story, is common on the early lodging buildings in the district.
Likely the most famous building, and certainly one of the most picturesque in the Eureka Springs Historic District is the Crescent Hotel, located on the north end of West Mountain at 75 Prospect Drive.
Architect Isaac Taylor designed the four-story building's eclectic style with characteristics of Romanesque, French Eclectic, and Second Empire styles. Special wagons were constructed to transport the huge pieces of magnesium limestone from a nearby quarry. Built at a cost of $294,000, the Crescent Hotel was considered one of the most luxurious hotels in the country. Situated on a 27-acre site overlooking downtown Eureka Springs, the Crescent Hotel commands an imposing presence with its stately stone walls and roof towers.
The New Orleans Hotel at 63 Spring Street was built by W. D. Wadsworth, noted in commercial construction in turn-of-the century Eureka Springs. Built in 1900 and constructed of limestone with brick on its facade, the four-story building features a two-story ornate iron balcony on its front.
The Palace Hotel and Bath House at 135 Spring Street, built in 1 900, is a two-story limestone building with basement. A domed center tower with a round arched opening surrounded by large limestone blocks affords a Romanesque style influence to this building. It is the only hotel in Eureka Springs, which still offers baths in the waters of the springs that made the city famous.
The Basin Park Hotel was built in 1905. Constructed of local limestone, the eight-story Basin Park Hotel is built up against the steep hillside on the north side of Basin Park. Bridge walks lead from each of the upper floors of the eight-story building to the mountain behind its, offering a "ground floor" entrance on each level.
Prior to the 1940s, visitors to Eureka Springs came largely to take advantage of the healing springs downtown. As automobile travel became more widespread and U.S. Highway 62 was opened in 1920, lodging for the motorists began to be constructed on the highway above the city. A major tourist highway and popular detour from Route 66, Eureka Springs began to be a frequent stop on motor trips. Catering to this short-term lodging, as opposed to the normal lengthy stays in Eureka for health reasons, the development of business on Highway 62 was geared toward convenience for the motorist.
The most common type of early lodging geared for the motorist was the tourist cabin or cottage. On the western edge of the historic district, near the highway, two historic tourist courts exemplify this type of lodging.
The Rock Cottages at 10 Kingshighway were built in the late 1930s in a triangular-shaped block near the intersection of Kingshighway and Highway 62. These rectangular structures are covered with a gable roof and feature a wood gable shed roof over their entry. The cottages are distinctively covered in rubble stone.
The Log Cabin Inn at 42 Kingshighway consists of a series of small rectangular log cabins with a side shed roof porch.
Construction of motels on Highway 62 in Eureka Springs steadily increased through the 1940s and 1950s. The terrain of the area offered the opportunity to build motels that offered views of the valleys below.
Motel construction such as the Tradewinds at 141 W. Van Buren, built in 1948, or Morgan Courts 227 W. Van Buren, built in 1947, offered lodging in a single building divided into rooms with space to park a car immediately in front of the visitor's door. For the most part, the motels in the district from the 1940s and 1950s are simple flat roof buildings.
Motel construction boomed in the 1960s with nearby Beaver Lake, construction of the Christ of the Ozarks, and opening of the Passion Play. Early 1960s motels such as the ones that were once located at 121 W. Van Buren (now the site of The Quarter Shops) and 216 W. Van Buren (the former Joy Motel, now The Wanderoo Lodge) were built in locations previously occupied by tourist camp sites.
One of the larger motels in the district is the Best Western Eureka Inn at 101 E. Van Buren, built in 1975.
The buildings comprising the Eureka Springs Historic District strongly retain integrity of location, design, workmanship, materials, feeling and association. The historic district appears much as it did in the early twentieth century with houses and buildings of widely varying size and styles located on steep wooded hillsides around Eureka Springs' original attraction, the sixty-three natural springs.
This unique historic district, presenting an overall Victorian appearance, represents a nationally significant resort town located in the rough terrain of the Ozark Mountains. A sense of time and place as a popular Victorian resort is strongly conveyed in the majority of the historic district's buildings. The buildings' adaptation to the extreme hillsides and valleys accentuates their uniqueness as a collection. Although much new construction has occurred in the boundaries of the historic district since 1950, it has largely located on the edges of the district, leaving the core of the city's historic integrity in place.
Discovering Eureka is a blog series where we seek to discover the unique things that make up Eureka Springs, Arkansas. There is so much to see, experience and explore here in Eureka Springs and in this series we will take time to give you the local perspective on what to do, where to go, what to see and how did this become something significant for our town.