There’s been much excitement recently for those who appreciate historic architecture in downtown Hot Springs as the historic Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa finally begins getting a noticeable facelift. Some scaffolding could already be spotted earlier this month from the Central Avenue side of the hotel but now the left tower atop the hotel is surrounded by construction scaffolding as work crews begin the long overdue process of repairing and replacing exterior stucco and apply fresh paint to the exterior of the historic building. From a statement on the Arlington Hotel social media regarding the improvements, “they are excited to be making these improvements, which they hope will be be done just in time to celebrate the hotel’s 100 year anniversary.”
A focal point for downtown Hot Springs, the Arlington Hotel built in 1924 makes up a large portion of the historic fabric that is Hot Springs. A popular resort destination historically for US Presidents, athletes like Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, silent film stars like Rudolph Valentino and other celebrities, literary figures and politicians, the Arlington continues to operate albeit as a shadow of its former self. As a modern day tourist destination the hotel has been simultaneously judged and defended by visitors and residents in Hot Springs over the years who are eager to see these updates occur.
Al Rajabi, CEO of Sky Capital Group, owner the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa, has been candidly outspoken in regards to the topic of historic preservation and its importance for his hotel in particular. In a public statement regarding the demolition of Saint Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, Rajabi discusses the initial investment made into the Arlington Hotel and its 450,000 square feet and the challenges they faced with the decades of neglect it had endured prior to their purchasing of the building.
Although Rajabi’s statements concerning the demolition of Saint Scholastica Monastery may have fallen on deaf ears, the action that’s happening right now at the Arlington Hotel and Resort is an encouraging sight for everyone in the state who appreciates history and the value of historic architecture. I hope to continue seeing more improvements like this in buildings especially in the downtown area so that perhaps future generations can truly appreciate the history of our past.
Which buildings in the state would you like to see rehabilitated? What building rehab projects are you the most excited about? Are there historic properties that aren’t getting the attention they deserve? Let us know and we may do a story about it at Arkansas Money and Politics.