Friday, July 19, 2013

Faded Beauty

A postcard from 1951 showing the Hotel Mountainaire in all of its glory.
   Following in the style of last week's post, this week we have the 1940's built Hotel Mountainaire in Hot Springs, AR. This motor-court hotel was built on Hwy 7/Park Avenue which was the principle route to Hot Springs from Little Rock until I-30 and Hwy 70 were built. It is commonly hailed as being the best example of Art Moderne architecture in the state. (For an explanation of the Art Moderne style please see the post "Modern Beginnings)
  We see several examples of the Art Moderne style in these buildings that were not in the Goshen  Avenue house as well as several more direct nods to its Art Deco heritage. First, notice the windows on the corners, they extent around the corners in a continuous motion, sometimes they continue around multiple corners. This is a tell-tale sign of Art Moderne. There is also a noticeable lack of ornamentation on the facades. The only real decorative items we see on the building all serve to accentuate the architecture of the building. Examples of this are the inset ridges that run between the small windows on the sides of the building, which serve to enhance the presence of the windows, and the brick screens on the penthouse balcony and the ground floor patios, which create privacy while still allowing breezes through. Curved surfaces are also common features on Art Moderne buildings, which here are seen on balconies on the rear of the buildings. Where we see derivations from the Art Moderne design aesthetics is in the symmetrical arrangement of the facades and in over all very vertical emphasis in the design.  As mentioned in the previous post, most Art Moderne buildings have an asymmetrical massing and arrangement which is more leaning towards the coming Modern architecture movement, however these buildings' symmetrical design was likely more for pragmatism that an intentional step away from the style. The vertical emphasis was most likely intentionally done though but then again, there are always deviations in any examples of pretty much any style. All in all, though, it was a beautiful and "modern" sight to see upon entering the vacation city of Hot Springs during the 1940's, 50's, and 60's. It was during this period that the hotel was booming from the steady stream of vacationers coming from Little Rock.
   However, the storm clouds of abandonment were gathering at the end of the 1960's. The creation of Interstate 30 and the expansion of Hwy 70 allowed visitors an easier, faster route to the Spa City, but it also directed people away from the Hotel Mountainaire by leading them into the southern part of downtown instead of the northern Park Ave./Hwy 7 route. By the mid to late 1970's the area of Hot Springs where the hotel exists was quickly falling into disrepair and the visitors stopped venturing to area. The Hotel Mountainaire suffered the same tragic fate as many of the stunning Victorian houses on Park Ave/Hwy 7. By the 1980's the North end of Park Avenue was a crime infested area where even long time inhabitants of the city would fear to tread. The fate of the Hotel Mountainaire seemed sealed. Things seemed to be looking up when in 1990's an investor bought the old hotel with the intent to remodel into apartments. Work was started but did not progress very far before the investor fell on hard times. Again the Mountainaire was abandoned. There was also an art show held at the hotel in the early 2000's which attempted to garner public and financial support for the building, but little came of it. Now the hotel just sits in its sadden state, falling apart brick by brick. It is incredible unfortunate that such significant structures can simply crumble and fade away as this one is, but there doesn't seem to be any stopping it.
    Below are photos taken from of the current state of the Hotel Mountainaire.

the rear of both buildings

Decorative brick screen on the balconies
Curved Balcony missing its railing

Hotel Mountainaire from Park Ave/Hwy 7

1 comment:

  1. The buildings will now be renovated. New buyer as of 8/28/16.