Downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas


As the name suggests, the Eureka Springs area is dotted with natural hot springs.  During the Civil War, Dr. Alvah Jackson established a small hospital in a cave near Basin Spring and used the water to treat his patients, after claiming that it had cured his eye ailments.  In 1879, Judge J.B. Saunders also claimed to be healed by the spring waters, and heavily promoted Eureka Springs.  Thousands flocked to the area.  It was officially incorporated as a city in 1880, and was one of the state’s largest cities in the early years.  The town quickly became a popular tourist destination in the Victorian era, and remains so today.  The original downtown and nearby neighborhood streets have been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1970.

The old downtown rises along streets that climb and wind around the hillsides, including Main Street, Spring Street, and Center.  Some buildings have entrances on multiple levels.

The Grand Central Hotel and Spa was built in 1883.

Flatiron Building

The first “flatiron” building was built in Eureka Springs in 1880, but many others were constructed subsequently in cities across North America; most famously, the 1902 Flatiron Building (originally Fuller Building) in Manhattan.  Conforming to their triangular or trapezoidal lots, they resemble the old clothing irons of the era.  The building in Eureka Springs, at the fork of Spring and Center, was destroyed by fire in 1890, rebuilt, and then burned again.  The current building dates from 1987.

Basin Park Hotel

The Basin Park Hotel was completed in 1905, on the site of a smaller hotel built in 1881.  Each of the upper floors has a fire escape bridge to the bluff behind.  The exterior is limestone, common in the region, with bands of red dolomite.

Basin Spring Bath House

This 1889 brick building replaced the original Basin Spring Bath House from 1879.  The first two floors were accessed from the entrance on Mud Street, and a bridge from Spring Street connected to the third.  Eventually Mud Street (renamed Main Street) was raised, and the former second floor became the first floor.  It was gutted by fire in 1986 but restored.

On the right, Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall…