Maurice Bathhouse

21
City/Town: Hot Springs
Location Class: Commercial
Year Built: 1912
Year Abandoned: N/A
Status: AbandonedGutted
Photographer: Michael Schwarz

Construction began on the new Maurice Bathhouse in 1911 and was completed by 1912. The building was designed by George Gleim, Jr. of Chicago. The building was remodeled in 1915, following a design by George Mann and Eugene John Stern of Little Rock, which added the front sun parlor and made the white hygienic appearance warmer and more luxurious.

The exterior of the Maurice Bathhouse is simple yet elegant in design. The interior of the Maurice – patterned after the most successful contemporary European spas – was one of the best equipped and luxurious early-20th-century American bathhouses. The Maurice is probably the best example on Bathhouse Row of a bathhouse specially designed using concrete, metal, and ceramic elements to furnish a hygienic atmosphere and specially equipped with the ultimate in early-20th-century bathing technology. Technologically advanced heating, ventilating, and vacuum-cleaning systems were installed in the Maurice to provide a comfortable, healthy atmosphere for the bather. A therapeutic pool was installed in the Maurice in 1931 to treat various forms of paralysis (spurred on by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s treatments at Warm Springs, Georgia). At this time it was also the first of the Hot Springs bathhouses to provide specialized treatment for polio and other severe muscular and joint problems, being the only one to employ a registered physical therapist.

The first floor has the entrance through the front sun parlor, lobby, stairs and elevators, men’s facilities to the south, and women’s facilities to the north. The arches and fluted Ionic pilasters of the lobby re-emphasize the elegance presented by the front elevation. An addition to the lobby space is the orange neon “Maurice” sign on the wall behind the marble counter of the front desk. Neon signs were also found on the interior of the Superior and in other businesses in the immediate vicinity. Stained glass skylights and windows of mythical sea scenes in the men’s and women’s portions contribute to the sophistication of the building. The second floor contains dressing rooms, a billiard room with a mural, and various staff rooms.

The third floor houses the dark-panelled Roycroft Den, named after Elbert Hubbard’s New York Press, which promoted the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States. Also known as the “Dutch Den”, it replaced a solarium during the 1915 remodeling. The den contains an inglenook fireplace with flanking benches and carved mascarons detail the ends of the ceiling beams. In 1930 the men’s basement gymnasium was replaced when the den was converted to a gymnasium; originally there were both men’s and women’s gymnasiums in the basement.

The building, generally square in plan, is three stories in height and contains 79 rooms and nearly 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2) (including basement). The building was designed in an eclectic combination of Renaissance Revival and Mediterranean styles commonly used by architects in California, such as Julia Morgan. The brick and concrete load-bearing walls are finished with stucco on the exterior, and inset with decorative colored tiles. The front elevation of the building is symmetrical, with a five-bay enclosed sun porch set back between the north- and south-end wings. Besides the symmetry, the hierarchy of fenestration found in Renaissance Revival buildings is also present: delicate arches of the porch window and door openings on the first floor, paired nine-light windows on the second story, and enormous rectangular openings on the third floor, further illuminated by the skylight above. Much of the roof is flat, with parapets and other sections of the roof visible from ground level are covered with green tile. The skylights are metal frames with wire glass. The concrete beams on the interior of the beam and slab floor construction are exposed, finished with plaster similar to the interior walls.

Originally, this building contained 27 tubs (seven of them in the ladies’ department), a Nauheim bath, and hydro-therapeutic baths; it could handle 650 bathers a day. Additional tubs were installed in 1924. A Nauheim or effervescent bath is a type of spa bath through which carbon dioxide is bubbled, named after the German spa town. Battle Creek Sanitarium also employed Nauheim baths.

The Maurice represents another facet of American spa history. It provided special services, elegant appointments, and luxurious decor to attract sophisticated bathers who came to Hot Springs to fraternize with their peers. It is said that Jack Dempsey trained in the gymnasium and Elbert Hubbard based one of his Journeys booklets on W. G. Maurice and his bathhouse.

21 Comments

  1. Maurice bathhouse is indeed very nice. It's indeed a historical journey. Watching all of these images is awesome and I just love the woodwork of the Maurice bathhouse.

  2. Really great post. This answered the majority of my questions. When I read this I actually opened up a word document and started taking notes haha.

  3. I was curious if you ever thought of changing the page layout of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

  4. This is a blog to watch for sure. I think you have a really awesome writing style by the way. Very easy to read. Your blog design is so clean too! Thank you all the hard work!

  5. Do you have a Youtube channel as well with this kind of content on it? I would love to see this post turned into a longer video if possible. Maybe I can share on it on my website.

  6. May23 Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It really is very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.

  7. Valaki tud valamit a másik szülőről?Számoltam,nézegettem őket és már 4 napja nem ment haza éjszakára sem,és a kicsik egész napra egyedül vannak hagyva.Remélem nem történt semmi baj,de ez furcsa hogy 4 éjszakája csak az egyik szülő van velük,és napközben teljesen magukra vannak hagyva.Zalaistvándon nagyobbak a fiókák,de még mindig van velük valaki,éjszaka pedig mindkét szülő ott van.

  8. I would like to know why that house name was named Maurice bathhouse. Is that house used for bathing purpose only?

    Anyway, I enjoyed reading the historic information behind that house and those images are nice.

    • The Maurice Bathhouse was named after William G. Maurice, the original owner of the bathhouse starting in 1911. When Maurice died in 1927, the business was passed down to his son.

      • Also, the bathhouses were used for medical, entertainment, and social purposes. The hot, mineral waters of Hot Springs were said to contain special healing powers. The bathhouses also were used as spa resorts, hints the nickname for Hot Springs "Spa City". Special gyms, as well as, men's and women's chambers, seen exhibited in the Fordyce Bathhouse, were used as a social setting for those using the baths.

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