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August 20, 2011

Fordyce Bathhouse in Hot Springs, AR

By RetroRuth

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More pictures from our spring road trip to share!  This time we are in Hot Springs, AR and visiting the Fordyce Bathhouse on Bathhouse Row in Downtown Hot Springs.

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Built in 1915, the Fordyce isn’t exactly in our normal time period, but I thought it was too pretty not to show you guys.

The Fordyce, the largest structure on the Row, was built in 1915 and ceased service in the early 1960s. It now serves as the national park visitor center today, having reopened in 1989 after extensive restoration efforts.

The center features exhibits, films and 23 rooms that have been restored and furnished to reflect the peak of the bathing era.

Designed in Renaissance Revival style, the three-story, cream-colored brick structure is the most ornate of the bath houses and contains both Italian and Spanish elements. It features terra cotta detailing, a limestone porch, stained glass, friezes and copper marquee.

-From Hot Springs Attractions Website

The Fordyce Bathhouse is sort of a conglomerate example of a bathhouse that people visited for health reasons and for recreation in the late 19th and early 2oth century. The skeleton of the Fordyce is its own, but equipment and accessories from other closed bathhouses are combined with what was left of the Fordyce to give a pretty realistic bathhouse experience to visitors, complete with creepy questionable medical equipment (electro- or mechano-therapy, anyone?).

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Here I am, checking out a private bathing chamber on the Women’s side of the bathhouse. I really, really wish that the bathtub would have been filled with water from the Hot Springs. It was SO COLD outside when we visiting. Brrr! I think I am wearing every sweatshirt, sweater and jacket I brought along for the trip in this picture. 

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Here is a picture of the glorious fountain and chamber on the Men’s side of the bathhouse, which I have to point out was way, way, way, way more beautiful than the woman’s side!

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These are just some of the practical pieces that also serve as decorative accents in the bathhouse.  It was a great place to tour and the restoration was amazing. Tom and I spent a few dazed hours touring it and totally recommend it if you visit Hot Springs. In fact, I took so many pictures, I had to upload them to a gallery just so you could see them all. Enjoy!

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3 Responses to Fordyce Bathhouse in Hot Springs, AR

  1. Nancy Reply

    August 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Some of those things look like torture devices but I love that bathhouse. The stained glass and the wood are just marvelous. I think I’ve actually been in that one. Bath house row is just marvelous. The promenade behind them is a great walk too.

  2. Sara in AZ Reply

    August 20, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    So, you went from melting away one day to freezing cold practically the next day! 🙂

    This place looks amazing Ruth. It is so beautiful with all of the marble and tile, though I do have to admit some of the nozzle things kinda scare me! 😉

  3. Andrea Reply

    August 20, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    What a gorgeous building! For some reason, I always find old medical equipment super creepy, LOL. But I really do love the buildings from the older time periods, too.

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