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Thompson Building

Location Class:
Built: 1913 | Abandoned: 1980's
Historic Designation: National Register of Historic Places
Status: Restored (2017)
Photojournalist: Michael SchwarzGrant King

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

From website:

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.

Learn more about the wonderful new Boutique Hotel

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Patricia Goff
Patricia Goff
6 years ago

I wish people would make a nonprofit and get donations to restore these old buildings. Companies and people with money would donate money cause they could write it off.

Pat Goff
Pat Goff
10 months ago

I hope they save it. I love Hot Springs too. I just found my long lost Uncle and Aunt that lives there. I love the Baths as they remind me of growing up in Germany. I remember having to turn on the water heater to get hot water for the sink or tub (still do at my mothers) in all of my apartments on the economy. All the marble reminds me of the marble steps and window seals in Germany too not to mention the marble bath tubs and floors too. We have lost to much history in Arkansas already.… Read more »

1 year ago

[…] downtown, with its columns, was the perfect match for this pen. (Tripadvisor) You can see some old photos here before it was restored and turned into The Waters hotel. It’s […]

1 year ago

Now it’s The Waters Hotel, and has been refurbished.

2 years ago

My aunt lived in the Thompson Building in the 70s. I I spent a summer with her there when I was a teen. It was a run down fire trap but it was a fun location because all the cars would circle around and around every night.

Austin Mattoon
7 years ago

This building is absolutely beautiful!!!!, amazing pictures!!!!!!

7 years ago

What a beautiful building!, this is an amazing group!

7 years ago

Glad the building will be saved. Does anyone know what they are going to renovate it into?

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