Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: Hot Springs Fire Of 1905

Aug 2, 2019

A 1905 fire devastated downtown Hot Springs and brought a new look to the town’s architecture. Hot Springs was a tourist mecca in the early 1900s, with some coming for the healing waters and others for the rampant illegal activities.

At 3 a.m. on February 25th, 1905, fire broke out at the elegant Grand Central Hotel on the south side of town. Strong winds spread the conflagration to Central Avenue as desperate guests jumped from the upper floors of burning buildings. As firefighters sought to control the blaze, water pressure failed at 5 a.m. and firemen and civilians formed bucket brigades.

The fire was out by 9:30 a.m. and stopped short of the central business district, though the Garland County Courthouse was lost. Some 25 people and 400 buildings were lost to the flames.

Hot Springs quickly rebuilt, and new architectural styles emerged as post-1905 fire codes barred wooden structures and fire-resistant brick and stone buildings such as those on Bathhouse Row emerged along Central Avenue.

To learn more, visit the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.