Medical Arts Building

25
City/Town: Hot Springs
Location Class: CommercialHospital
Year Built: 1930
Year Abandoned: 1991
Status: AbandonedEndangeredNational Register of Historic Places
Photographer: Michael Schwarz

In 1930, in downtown Hot Springs, two blocks from the Majestic Hotel, the Medical Arts Building became the tallest building west of Mississippi from the day it finished construction until 1960. This building, credited as being one of the most important Art Deco structures in Arkansas history, is now considered one of the most endangered buildings in the state by the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas. A certified building in the National Register of Historic Places, the United States branch of government dealing with historical buildings, the Medical Arts Building has been abandoned since 1991 after four years of having no power or electricity to the middle thirteen floors.

medical-arts-hisThe Medical Arts Building was constructed by general contractor G. C. Gordon Walker with work beginning on December 1, 1929. Designed by Almand & Stuck, which also designed Little Rock Central High School, the building has a certain indescribable beauty and elegance that has caused a recent public uproar to restore or otherwise renovate it. According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, “Bas-relief limestone carvings on the frieze and on the facing of the main entrance are among the building’s notable features, along with the bronze grille work above the doors.” This unique look, which provided the exterior for the Daily Planet building in the original Superman television series, earned the building its reputation as, from Sentinel-Record, “One of the most imposing buildings in Arkansas and a valuable addition to… Hot Springs.”

The current condition of the structure mirrors that of the Majestic before its ultimate destruction. As a community, there has been much protest and concern raised that the building’s fate will be the same as its abandoned cousin. The building’s latest owner, Marshall Coffman of Coffman Investment Inc. of Little Rock, reassured the Sentinel-Record in 2012 that the building “absolutely” will not be torn down. The Medical Arts Building stands out as one of the most important buildings in Arkansas history and we here at Abandoned Arkansas are happy to see the amount of attention and support put into the notion of restoring it. Other major, historic buildings that are vacant in downtown Hot Springs include the former Majestic Hotel and former DeSoto Hotel.

We bumped into Scott McClard, a local entrepreneur to Hot Springs and amature film maker, while exploring the Medical Arts Building; he made a video that keeps in the spirit of Abandoned Arkansas and really helps to create a live, detailed recreation of the Medical Arts Building inside and out. Please show your support for the restoration of Historic Downtown Hot Springs by taking a look at the video and pictures below; hopefully, with enough attention, we’ll be able to capture how important these buildings are to the people of Arkansas.

Article written by Wells Thompson – AAR staff

Scott McClard’s video on the Medical Arts Interior.

25 Comments

  1. Who did you contact to get in to do this? I would love to go in and get some shots for a College Project.

  2. I hope that since the Thompson and 1st Federal Buildings are being refurbished, maybe there's hope for this one (and many others) too. Neat video and haunting music.

  3. Great old building. I hope that since the Thompson and 1st Federal Buildings are being refurbished, maybe there's hope for this one (and many others) too. Neat video and haunting music. I wonder if the songs were created specifically for this video?

  4. Does anyone know how to get in there? I would like to check out the whole thing and want to see the rooftop. If anyone knows a way in I would love instruction.

  5. I have been in the Medical Arts Building twice in the last two years. It is a beautiful building and it worthy of restoration and redevelopment. I do hope that an angel investor steps in to save it.

    However, if you assess it objectively it has many obstacles to overcome:
    1. Condition – The interior has been left open to the elements from several open or broken windows. Due to age, the building assuredly has lead paint and asbestos which will require remediation. The building was not equipped for modern HVAC.
    2. Floorplan – The square foot of each floor is very small which will not allow for ballroom or meeting space which is vital for any hotel profitability. No lobby or provisions for a bar/restaurant.
    3. Ownership – A total mess. Good luck on consolidation. The only solution is for the city to obtain it via eminent domain and then sell it to a developer.
    4. Market/location – Hot Spings is very nice, but it is not the major destination it once was. All the other empty buildings in Hot Springs should be an indication to anyone that this is not a growing destination. To generate a profit, you must have a continual flow of guests to fill rooms. race season is not enough to support it.
    4. Competition – Look across the street. They have everything Medical Arts does not have space to accommodate.

  6. I can not believe they've let the building get so bad.I cleaned it in the late 80's. you could have used any part of it. The doctors moved out because of customer parking and to be near the new hospitals.

  7. Where you able to get through the whole thing? My grandfather had limandri's men store on the 10th floor back when they shut down the top floors.

  8. As a teen ('94-95) we used to romp around in old apartment houses around downtown HS. We never had the courage or know how to breech the Medical Arts building's heights, but it was discussed

  9. RLECOMPTENTERP.84 on

    Does anyone remember the movie ''wallstreet''charlie sheen renovated an apartment out of one of these flats and it was worth almost a million dollars,IS ANYONE OUT THERE SEENG WHAT A POTENTIAL THERE IS FOR THIS PLACE!!!!!opportunity is there!…p.s. my great granny was working in that building in the 40s and 50s,she recalled it when a boulder the size of a u=haul rolled of the mountain and hit the building shakin it all over!

  10. I worked in the Medical Arts Building for a short while after Melvyn Bell bought KRZB TV-26 and moved the station there (literally overnight in the back of pick-up trucks!) I think it was April 1988 when we shut down for good and all got laid off. Interesting times…

  11. Wow! I do remember that building. David Settlemoir and I and others worked in that building for a short time before the TV station went dark. It's funny you mention the move, David. I was driving a truckload of racks and tape machines to the medical arts building when I was pulled over and spread eagle by the local police. I had to explain that I wasn't stealing this equipment that I was driving through town at 3AM! Then, David Stewart, chief engineer got mad at me for being late.
    I didn't see any rooms that would have indicated the station was there in the video. I remember helping David Stewart install the microwave link dish on the roof, though.
    MB did have some grand plan to renovate the building, be he lost his butt in the stock market crash of '87 and couldn't even afford to keep the station open.

  12. This was awesome…..You know Bill lived up there in the building when he first moved here. His dad's podiatry office was in that building. Bill lived on the level at the top with the cat walk that goes around the top of the building. It would be so wonderful to see that building restored!!!! Thanks for taking the time to do this and share! You need to send this to the tv stations!! Awesome job!

  13. As a child my mother took me to see an oral surgeon in the Medical Arts building. While waiting we met Glen Campbell's parents. I wish I could remember the doctors name. It was a building that to a young girl was impressive and almost bigger than life itself. I have heard that the building was the model for "The Daily Planet" in Superman comics. At any rate it is a part of history and could be stunning again. Thanks for making the film Scott to raise awareness of our amazing buildings and history here in Hot Springs

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