Parks - steve-coyle

Superior Bathhouse

National Park Week starts this weekend, so I thought I'd start things off with this shot I took outside Superior Baths on Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park. Because Hot Springs was designated as Hot Springs Reservation in 1832, before the National Park System existed, some consider Hot Springs National Park as the nation's first national park.

Superior Baths operated as a bathhouse from 1916 - 1983. Today it is a brewery and craft beer tasting room. My wife and I stopped in here for a little refreshment after touring the park and it’s definitely a place I’ll stop again when we’re in the area. Great place to stop for a Friday night after a long week working or sight seeing (hint, hint).

For a little history on Superior I checked out Wikipedia and found this info:

The northernmost bathhouse on the row is the Superior which was completed in 1916 and designed by architect Harry C. Schwebke of Hot Springs, Arkansas. The building is designed in an eclectic commercial style of Classical Revival origin. The building has two stories and a basement, is L-shaped in plan and is constructed of brick masonry and reinforced concrete. It contains 23 rooms and is more than 10,000 square feet (930 m2). The building was constructed on the site of an 1880s Victorian style Superior bathhouse. Brick from the previous bathhouse may have been reused in this structure.

Principal exterior architectural details are on the front elevation. The three bays are separated by brick pilasters with patterned insets and decorated with concrete painted in an imitation of ornamental tiles. Green tile medallions (paterae) are centered over the pilasters in the friezes below the first and second story cornices. Both roofs are flat and topped with brick parapets. The cornice and exterior trim are painted metal and stone.

The one-story sun porch at the front elevation projects out from the main mass of the two-story building. The first floor contains the sun porch, the lobby flanked by the stairs and the bathing facilities. The men's bath hall, dressing rooms and pack room are on the longer north end of the building. The women's facilities are smaller and located on the south side of the building. The two stairways leading upstairs have marble treads and balusters with tile wainscoting on the walls. The second floor is divided down the middle with dressing facilities, cooling rooms and massage rooms on either side for men and women with each served by its own stairs. Bath stalls are marble-walled with tile floors and solid porcelain tubs. The front desk in the lobby is marble while most of the interior hardware is brass. Walls vary from painted plaster to marble (men's hot room) and tile (bath halls). The double hung wood–frame windows have twelve lights over one light. A concrete ramp edged with wrought iron railings provides a central entrance to the structure.

A cooling tank and steel frame to support it were added to the rear of the building in 1920. The building was damaged by a flood in 1923 but the extent of repairs is not known. Some remodeling was completed on the interior in the 1930s, but again the extent of those changes is unknown. In 1957 the massage room was extended, wall radiators were installed, floors were re-tiled and modern lighting fixtures were added. Many of the original furnishings were also replaced at that time. Other changes to the building include the installation of whirlpool equipment in 1962 and air conditioning in 1971. The Superior closed in 1983 and the furnishings were sold at auction.

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