|City/Town: • Hot Springs|
|Location Class: • Commercial • Hospital|
|Year Built: • 1930 | Year Abandoned: • 1991|
|Historic Designation: • National Register of Historic Places|
|Status: • Abandoned • Endangered|
|Photojournalist: • Michael Schwarz|
In 1930, in downtown Hot Springs, two blocks from the Majestic Hotel, the Medical Arts Building became the tallest building west of Mississippi from the day it finished construction until 1960. This building, credited as being one of the most important Art Deco structures in Arkansas history, is now considered one of the most endangered buildings in the state by the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas. A certified building in the National Register of Historic Places, the United States branch of government dealing with historical buildings, the Medical Arts Building has been abandoned since 1991 after four years of having no power or electricity to the middle thirteen floors.
The Medical Arts Building was constructed by general contractor G. C. Gordon Walker with work beginning on December 1, 1929. Designed by Almand & Stuck, which also designed Little Rock Central High School, the building has a certain indescribable beauty and elegance that has caused a recent public uproar to restore or otherwise renovate it. According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, “Bas-relief limestone carvings on the frieze and on the facing of the main entrance are among the building’s notable features, along with the bronze grille work above the doors.” This unique look, which provided the exterior for the Daily Planet building in the original Superman television series, earned the building its reputation as, from Sentinel-Record, “One of the most imposing buildings in Arkansas and a valuable addition to… Hot Springs.”
The current condition of the structure mirrors that of the Majestic before its ultimate destruction. As a community, there has been much protest and concern raised that the building’s fate will be the same as its abandoned cousin. The building’s latest owner, Marshall Coffman of Coffman Investment Inc. of Little Rock, reassured the Sentinel-Record in 2012 that the building “absolutely” will not be torn down. The Medical Arts Building stands out as one of the most important buildings in Arkansas history and we here at Abandoned Arkansas are happy to see the amount of attention and support put into the notion of restoring it. Other major, historic buildings that are vacant in downtown Hot Springs include the former Majestic Hotel and former DeSoto Hotel.
We bumped into Scott McClard, a local entrepreneur to Hot Springs and amature film maker, while exploring the Medical Arts Building; he made a video that keeps in the spirit of Abandoned Arkansas and really helps to create a live, detailed recreation of the Medical Arts Building inside and out. Please show your support for the restoration of Historic Downtown Hot Springs by taking a look at the video and pictures below; hopefully, with enough attention, we’ll be able to capture how important these buildings are to the people of Arkansas.
Article written by Wells Thompson – AAR staff
Scott McClard’s video on the Medical Arts Interior.