|City/Town: • Hot Springs|
|Location Class: • Commercial • Hotel/Motel|
|Built: • 1913 | Abandoned: • 1980's|
|Historic Designation: • National Register of Historic Places|
|Status: • Restored (2017)|
|Photojournalist: • Michael Schwarz • Grant King|
Table of Contents
The Thompson Building, one of Hot Spring’s most recognizable landmarks, was built in 1913 and originally housed medical offices. These were converted into a hotel in the 1940’s. The building features an ornate glazed terra cotta façade and was designed in the neo-classical style by architect George R. Mann, the principle architect of the Arkansas Capitol. Like many of the other structures in the district, the first floor was occupied but the upper floors had been vacant since the 1980’s. The well-known Duck Tours of Hot Springs were headquartered in the lower level until renovations finally started in 2015 when the building was purchased. The Thompson Building was extremely vulnerable to dilapidation, mainly due to the vertical shaft that runs through the top four floors which at one point posed a major fire hazard and deter any heavy occupation.
Even with deterioration from age and neglect, during a presentation on restoration and repurposing of the building, Bob Kempkes & Anthony Taylor purchased and restored the unique architecture, while keeping its Corinthian pilasters and glazed terra cotta frontings.
Hot Springs is my all-time favorite town. I love everything about it. The history, the soul, the culture. It brings me great sadness to pass by countless buildings in downtown Hot Springs that sit vacant. I absolutely can’t stand it. When we lost the Majestic in 2016, I felt lost and had to step away for a year or two, but now millions of dollars are being invested into the heart of the city! And the Waters Hotel is a PERFECT example of what needs to be done to the rest of them. I am just ecstatic to witness the wonderful accomplishments done by Taylor Kempkes Architects, PA. What they have done is simply incredible. Amazing job well done!
I love Hot Springs and want nothing more than to see it thrive!
Article by AAR Photojournalist Michael Schwarz
Equal attention was given to designing and modernizing the 62 guest rooms and elegant public spaces. The new interior makes the most of the ground floor view of the bustling street. The Avenue—a southern artisan-style restaurant led by award-winning chef and Le Cordon Bleu alumnus Casey Copeland—was added to provide a delicious gathering place for families and friends.
Opened in 2017, The Waters is a tribute to the past with the comfort and state-of-the-art amenities discriminating travelers require. Put it all together with a service team steeped in Southern hospitality, and you have a boutique hotel built just for you.
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