It's so uniquely Eureka that our most prominent building in the heart of downtown is called the Flat-Iron Building . . . and here in a town that is, ironically, nowhere near flat.
Let's dive into some rich history about Eureka Springs' famous Flat-Iron Building.
New York’s Flatiron Building, originally the Fuller Building, is a triangular 22-story, 285-foot-tall steel-framed, land marked building, located at 175 Fifth Avenue. The neighborhood around it is called the Flatiron District. The Flatiron Building was designated a New York City landmark in 1966, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989. As with numerous other wedge-shaped buildings around the globe, the name "Flatiron" derives from its resemblance to a cast-iron (clothes iron.) We imagine that this same name, for Eureka’s very own Flat-Iron Building is used because of these similarities.
Our Original Flat-Iron Building (Number 1)
Poised in the center of town, amidst hundreds of buildings erected by lumber, the original Flat-Iron Building was said to be the first brick structure for Eureka Springs. It was built in 1880.
The years leading up to 1880 were a very different time. Men wore hats. Soup was known as a full meal. Houses, in this hilly town, were built with lumber and rose tier over tier clinging to the muddy mountainsides and perched in peril only to eventually fall upon each other when mudslides would occur.
In the year 1879, Judge J.B. Saunders began promoting Eureka Springs to his friends and family members all across the State of Arkansas and as the history books say, he single-handedly helped to create a boom town. It did not take one full year for the city to grow from a quaint, rural, healing spa village to one of the largest cities in the State.
In the height of the boom, it was Eureka's first banking institution, Bank of Eureka Springs, that took up shop in the original Flat-Iron Building.
The original Flat-Iron was considered an unusual building because of how it was constructed and how wonky it looked. The original had three sides and four stories. It featured a deck between the second and third stories (as shown) that wrapped around and the building was adorned in delightful wood trimmings.
It quickly became a beacon in the heart of Eureka Springs at the intersection of Center and Spring Streets.
Mr. Joseph Perry, a man from Colorado, arrived to Eureka Springs as an incurable invalid. After being miraculously cured of his ailments, he decided to build a first-class hotel (on the site known today as The Basin Park Hotel) although at the time of his proprietorship, it was aptly named, The Perry House and it operated from 1881-1890. The Perry House was right across from the original Flat-Iron Building.
The demise of The Perry House came in 1890 as fire started in the kitchen of the hotel and spread quickly throughout consuming The Perry House and going down in history as Eureka Springs’ Fourth Great Fire. Sadly, the fire was so massive, it took with it many adjacent buildings including the original Flat-Iron Building.
This event caused the passing of a new, city ordinance condemning the construction of commercial buildings with lumber in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
A very short time later, Eureka's second Flat-Iron Building was constructed.
This Flat-Iron was elaborate. Due to the new "no lumber" ordinance, it was erected with brick and it was three stories. It featured exceptional limestone ornamentation and a beautiful pressed metal cornice at the top of the façade which ascended a more regal, well-to-do tone over town. In 1900, this Flat-Iron housed The Frisco Saloon. There were also business offices and a lodge hall positioned on the upper stories.
A few years later, on July 1, 1905, a Grand Opening Celebration took place for the new, neighboring Basin Park Hotel, built on the site of the former Perry House.
Visiting Eureka Springs, Arkansas, today, it’s hard to imagine our city as a hotbed for organized crime, such as gambling, prostitution and bootlegging but this was the scene during this time, and it reached as far as Hot Springs, which became famous for their Las Vegas-style amenities before Las Vegas was even ... well ... Las Vegas. Our regal, Flat-Iron Number 2, was witness to some rich Southern history and the Basin Park Hotel was ground zero for this hotbed.
In disbelief, Number 2, our beloved, regal brick and limestone laden, Flat-Iron Building also succumbed to fire in 1925 and after the brick and limestone remains were excavated, the site stood vacant for many years.
Here is a rare photo of Eureka Springs (in 1937) with no Flat-Iron Building.
Here is another rare photo of Eureka Springs (in the 1950's) with no Flat-Iron Building.
Number 3 - The Flat-Iron Building of today
In the year, 1989, Flat-Iron Number 3 was constructed. As one would expect, this more modern, fire proof, design incorporated some iconic, historic elements that paid homage to the two previous Flat-Iron buildings.
Today's Flat-Iron serves as one of the most photographed buildings not only in Eureka Springs, but also in the State of Arkansas. With the many nuptials that occur here, at Thorncrown Chapel and other places around town, this Flat-Iron Building serves as a perfect backdrop for any special occasion.
Many people do not realize that Flat-Iron Number 3 is actually a guest house. When you need to get away from it all, come visit us here in Eureka Springs and book your stay at https://www.flatironflats.com/
You're certain to have an experience that is uniquely Eureka!
Research for this non-revenue generating blog comes from www.wikipedia.com, The Eureka Springs Historical Museum, The Basin Park Hotel website, various images via google.com. www.eureka--springs.com and encyclopediaofarkansas.net. In the United States, copyright rights are limited by the doctrine of "fair use," under which certain uses of copyrighted material for, but not limited to, criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research may be considered fair. U.S. judges determine whether a fair use defense is valid according to four factors, which are (for educational purposes): 1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes. Courts typically focus on whether the use is “transformative.” That is, whether it adds new expression or meaning to the original, or whether it merely copies from the original. 2. The nature of the copyrighted work Using material from primarily factual works is more likely to be fair than using purely fictional works. 3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. Borrowing small bits of material from an original work is more likely to be considered fair use than borrowing large portions. However, even a small taking may weigh against fair use in some situations if it constitutes the “heart” of the work. 4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work Uses that harm the copyright owner's ability to profit from his or her original work by serving as a replacement for demand for that work are less likely to be fair uses. Please connect with us at www.iloveureka.com if you have any questions. Thank you.❤️
Please Note: Our Flat-Iron has a "hyphen" and I don't know why. This plaque, bolted on the side of Eureka's (current) Flat-Iron Number 3, shows the hyphen throughout. It is for this reason, that in this blog post, I refer to Eureka Springs' Flat-Iron with the hyphen. New York City's building is known as Flatiron.
"By the way, fun fact, I love hyphens."