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  • Writer's pictureDiana McDaniel Hampo

An Architectural Beauty,Transformed

A few nights ago we tried to meet up with friends at The Rooftop Bar at the Waters Hotel on Central Aveue. It was 6:30 on a Thursday and we were told there would be a 45 minuet wait. Wow! But the Rooftop is packed up and popular, even in almost off season, for good reason. It's stunning.

A few years ago the old Thompson Building downtown Hot Springs was in heart breaking disrepair. It was featured on the website Abandoned Arkansas. Once again Hot Springs was

letting one of our most beautiful buildings crumble. So many times we have squandered our Architectural inheritances.

But something happened this time. The Thompson Building was adopted, like an old

broke down race horse, by the brilliant architectural team of Taylor and Kempkes. They saved a thoroughbred! And what a gift they have given to the city of Hot Springs.

Built in 1913 by architect George R Mann, the Thompson Building is a grand example of Corinthian/Neo Classical architectural style. It was originally filled with Doctors offices who treating visitors who came to "take the waters." Thankfully, in restoration, Taylor and Kempkes were able to save so many original light fixtures, sconces and much of the beautiful tile in the lobby and hallways,They even saved the ornate glazed terra cotta facade. I love standing right in front of The Waters Hotel and simply looking up. It's so very pretty. If you just wander in and out of the lobby take a moment to actually look at things like doors and lights.

I haven't been in the rooms. No doubt they are magnificent. But my new favorite spot in Hot Springs is that Rooftop Bar. The views are astonishing, you can look up and down Central Avenue from the Arlington to the Army Navy, you can study the National Park, watch folks walking up and down Central. It's all so wonderful.

Not only is there the unmatched view, The Water's Rooftop Bar has an easygoing menu with

things like quesadillas, a charcuterie board and dressed up fried shrimp and it's all reasonably priced.

Maybe, Hot Springs is finally learning to protect and love our architectural history. And the Rooftop bar at the Waters Hotel is just one example of how wonderful things can be.

Maybe next week we'll try to get up to the Rooftop again, but maybe on a Tuesday? No matter, it's worth the effort.

If you liked this post, I hope you'll check out the others at with more stuff in town that I love. And please feel free to send me ideas.

If you'd like to support the blog got to and order a shirt or mask. I'd really appreciate that help.

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