Finding aid hot springs national park collection



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National Park Service

U.S. Department of the Interior



FINDING AID



HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK COLLECTION


1870-2010, undated (bulk dates: 1940-1995, undated)
Prepared by

History Associates Incorporated

National Park Service

Catalog Number: HOSP 19266




TABLE OF CONTENTS

Copyright and Restrictions ……………………………………………………………ii


History ………………………………………………………………………………….4
Scope and Content ……………………………………………………………………...5
Hierarchy ………………………………………………………………………………..Error: Reference source not found
Series Descriptions …………………………………………………………………….. 10
Container List ………………………………………………………………………….. 24


COPYRIGHT AND RESTRICTIONS


The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials. The various state privacy acts govern the use of materials that document private individuals, groups, and corporations.


Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a reproduction if the document does not infringe the privacy rights of an individual, group, or corporation. These specified conditions of authorized use include:

If a user later uses a copy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," the user may be personally liable for copyright, privacy, or publicity infringement. This institution's permission to obtain a photographic, xerographic, digital, or other copy of a document doesn't indicate permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, sell, distribute, or prepare derivative works from this document without first obtaining permission from the copyright holder and from any private individual, group, or corporation shown or otherwise recorded.


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This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if fulfillment of the order is judged in violation of copyright or federal or state privacy or publicity law.


HISTORY


From its earliest settlement, people in the Arkansas Territory realized the potential health benefits of the natural springs that flowed in the Hot Springs area. By the early 1820s, the territorial government requested that the area be designated as a federal reservation in order to protect the thermal waters. On April 20, 1832, President Andrew Jackson signed legislation that established Hot Springs Reservation. The act set aside this area as federal land to be used at the government’s discretion. While Yellowstone (established in 1872) was the first area designated as a national park, the 1832 act makes Hot Springs National Park the oldest unit in the National Park System.
After providing the federal reservation designation, the government did very little to manage the Hot Springs lands. Initially the area was under the responsibility of the General Land Survey; however, after being established in 1849, the Department of the Interior assumed control of the reservation. Between 1832 and 1877 many settlers made land claims and established businesses in the reservation. When the federal government began to reassert itself in the area, land disputes arose eventually leading to lawsuits. In 1877, the Supreme Court ruled against the private land owners and allowed the federal government to reestablish its control. The Hot Springs Commission reconfirmed the boundaries, and appointed the reservation’s first superintendent, General Benjamin Franklin Kelley, later that year.
During the period of federal inattention many settlers established free “bathhouses” for the poor that were nothing more than dugout pools at places such as Ral Spring, Corn Hole, and Mud Hole. Where structures existed, they often were poorly built and unstable. In 1878, a fire destroyed many of the buildings in the central and southern part of the area. Although structures in the northern part were unharmed, they were in much need of repair; the fire provided an opportunity for the government to construct better and grander structures. It was during this period that the area transformed into a spa city.
Various building, landscape, and engineering projects were enacted under government supervision. Hot Springs creek was enclosed in an underground arch for flood and sewage control in 1884. Underground pipes replaced crude wooden troughs for transporting water to the bathhouses. A Free Government Bathhouse was built in 1891 for the poor. Larger, lavish Victorian-style bathhouses were erected, while roads and paths were improved to allow for more convenient access by visitors. After failing to lure the services of renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, the Department of the Interior appointed U.S. Army Captain Robert R. Stevens to oversee landscaping projects. By 1901 all area springs were covered to protect them from pollution. Between 1912 and 1923 all of the wooden bathhouses built in the 1880s were replaced by sanitary brick and masonry structures.
Hot Springs National Park was designated on March 4, 1921, marking the final stages of construction of the Bathhouse Row of today. The Free Government Bathhouse was demolished and replaced by a new one in 1922. A central thermal water collection and distribution system was completed in 1933, and the administrative building opened in 1936. In 1957, the last major project occurred when the Free Government Bathhouse closed. Superintendent Donald Libbey, working with the National Park Service and city officials, helped turn the bathhouse into a modern medical center for physical therapy and hydrotherapy. It reopened as the Hot Springs Physical Medical Center in 1958, but was rededicated as the Libbey Memorial Physical Medical Center in 1960 in honor of Superintendent Libbey, who died in 1959.
Between 1880 and 1960, the bathing industry formed the backbone of Hot Springs, Arkansas. However, by the 1960s it began to decline and the once thriving structures of Bathhouse Row began to close. The Fordyce Bathhouse was the first in 1962, followed by the Maurice, Ozark, and Hale Bathhouses during the 1970s. Quapaw and Superior Bathhouses closed in 1984, and the Lamar Bathhouse closed the following year. Of the eight grand buildings of Bathhouse Row, seven shut down services. Buckstaff Bathhouse is the only original bathhouse in continuous operation, although Quapaw Bathhouse was renovated and reopened in 2008 as Quapaw Baths & Spa. Libbey Memorial Physical Medical Center has also remained in operation since it opened in 1958.
Bathhouse Row was named a National Historic Landmark District in 1987. In 1989, the restored Fordyce Bathhouse was reopened as the Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center. Offices for park employees and the park store are currently (2012) located in the Lamar Bathhouse. The National Park Service made the decision to restore and lease the other bathhouses to outside businesses. The Ozark Bathhouse was restored and reopened in 2009 as the Museum of Contemporary Art. In March 2012, the park announced that concessioners leases would soon be awarded for both the Hale and Superior Bathhouses. Only the Maurice Bathhouse remains vacant, awaiting restoration.


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