When I drive around Hot Springs there are some buildings who talk to me. They don’t “speak”, they talk, they chat away like an old buddy.
Central Park Fusion on Park Avenue used to be a bank branch. My dad designed it in the 60’s, I think. The beautiful rock wall that arches away from the building was such an elegant design touch. The curve and texture of that wall were perfect. Dad used volcanic rock so it would match the tuffa rock found in the National Park. The idiots who knocked a big hole in the wall make me and the building crazy (not the current restaurants owners). Because of the cantilevers and stone work it was one of my mother’s favorites. That building always talks to me about the power and importance of detail, even on the smallest projects.
The Arlington of course talks about all kinds of stuff. She wishes someone would fix her up again. She loves warm nights when couples and families sit on the veranda. We talk about nights when Alex and I were dating. We would visit the Arlington to hear the legendary Reggie Cravens play his stand up bass in the lobby. Alex would ask Reggie to play My Funny Valentine and we would dance and laugh along side the tourists.
I tease her about her Christmas decorations. They are ancient and shabby, but the squeaking made by that Santa and his
reindeer are the sound of Christmas for me.
The Ohio Club is such an extraordinary building it makes me smile. That gigantic and gorgeous back bar stuffed inside such and tiny and ornate building is ridiculous and wonderful. The Ohio Club, which is the oldest bar in Arkansas, is the reason we should all avoid chain restaurants and bars in strip malls. I’m so glad my buddy Mike Pettey has taken that building and restored so much of it’s exquisite history and beauty.
When my daughter, Mary was a little girl we’d listen to a guitar player, Mike Stanley, play at the Ohio Club. He’d sing John Prine’s “Daddy’s Little Pumpkin” and Mary would dance away, shaking her butt and laughing hysterically.
The First Methodist Church has plenty to say. My grandfather was one of the architects who worked on the original sanctuary and it’s stunning. My dad designed the modern half of the building. He had Mexican artists create the three story Jesus mosaic who towers over Central Avenue, arms outstretched. I was a little girl when the building was under construction but I remember how upset my mom was when Daddy invited all the Mexican artists to the house for dinner without giving her warning. They filled the house with big smiles and dirty work clothes. Fortunately, they didn’t speak English so they didn’t understand my parents snarky remarks that night.
Sometimes the Methodist Church and I talk about my grandmother, Mooie. In order to coax the grand kids to be quite in church she kept a roll of Life Savers in her purple purse. ( Mooie never wore or carried anything that wasn’t purple). The Life Savers were always covered with lint from the bottom of her purple purse so we spent most of the time picking them clean.
The buildings talk and I listen. Makes driving through town pretty interesting.
5 thoughts on “Hot Springs’ Talking Buildings…Architecture and Ghosties”
I drive around and nod at your dad’s buildings whenever I’m in town. I drove by the office on Wittington last time I was home. I do that every few visits, in fact, just to see how it’s doing.
Your mom gave me a couple of the books from his collection when I was in architecture school. She also made a deal with me to clean up the office and put all the drawings in some sort of order and I could take any of the old catalogs, Sweets binders, samples, drafting stuff, etc. that I could use. I moved that trove with me through 3 moves after school. Probably have a chunk of it still in storage and definitely still use the SMACNA manual.
Uncle Beau was a major influence on me becoming an architect.
Tom, That makes me so happy. I wish I could get enough money together to start buying his buildings, even the small ones. Actual, some Realtor here in town have been doing very very well flipping some. A Realtor called me a few months ago, wanting to talk about dad. He bought a little run down place or 35,000 and after fixing it up, sold it for 120,000. And it really made makes me happy that they use the line, “Famed Architect,” stuff like that. Dad would shake his head, mom would be delighted. Thanks for reading. I love hearing from you.
Great article Pooh, brings back lots of memories! Next time I make it to HS I need to photo all the buildings that your Dad and DaddyMc the designed.
that’s a great idea. I would love to have those before they are gone
If you did that Gary, I bet we could get you a show here in Hot springs!
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