Wednesday, April 28, 2010

~Historic Hospital Tour in Hot Springs~

I'm about to finish up my 5th week of clinicals with Arkansas Rehab Services in Little Rock. 7 weeks to go! The OTs who are supervising me are employed by and work as consultants for the state of Arkansas, assessing the assistive technology needs of clients for their home, vehicle, or workplace. Because they serve the entire state, travel is frequent...and those days are my favorite.

Today, we went to Hot Springs for a quick delivery and setup of a client's new computer program and devices for low vision. Afterwards, they took me on a tour of Hot Springs Rehab Center, which is run by ARS. This building used to be called The Army-Navy Hospital, the first military hospital in the entire nation.

The story, and the building itself, were fascinating to me, so I did some research. Here's the history...

In the early 1800's, mineral waters were believed to have therapeutic value, which attracted people to Hot Springs. A dinner party was held in 1882 at the Palace Bathhouse. It was given by a former Confederate army surgeon to honor U.S. Senator John A. Logan, a former Yankee general who served on Ulysses S. Grant's staff.

There, the groundwork for the hospital was proposed and the senator believed Hot Springs was the "ideal location for an institution of this character". Upon returning to DC, he made it happen.

The Army-Navy Hospital opened to veteran patients in 1887.

The building was replaced with fireproof brick and steel and reopened in 1933 as the building that still stands today.

After World War II, wounded soldiers were sent to Hot Springs to receive hydro-therapy treatments with the spring water.

The building was turned over to the state of Arkansas in 1960 for $1 to become the rehab hospital it is today, where people with disabilities receive therapy services and are taught independent living skills.

As we circled up the winding hill, I peered out of the van window, staring at the most picture-perfect, spooky, surely haunted, hospital.

Just look at it...It's both eery and beautiful.

{The hospital entrance}

Walking in felt like stepping into both another era, and a horror film. An old wooden hand-rail resembling a ballet bar lined both sides of the halls. No cold, institutional metal here.

I was immediately reminded of a movie called "Autopsy" that Sean forced me to watch on the Sci-Fi channel, where college friends are in a car accident while on a cross country road trip. They are taken to an empty, old hospital in middle-of-nowhere-Louisiana at night, where the staff proceeds to conduct inhumane and gory "experiments" on their bodies. It was scary. I regret it.

{This is what I imagined it would be like walking in this hospital at night.}

{And this is what I expected to see when I peeked into a room. I was scurred.}

{Yes, that's Escobar from Nip/Tuck. Pushing a cart of bloody body parts. See? Scary. Never again, Sean. Never again.}

Before my imagination could get carried away, I centered my focus on the charming vintage appeal.

I was in awe of the thick vintage wood work. And the intricate curved molding between the ceiling and the walls.

{Staircase with decorative metal grates and design cutouts above the doorways}

{Beautiful original woodwork}

The COOLEST vintage elements to me, were the recessed drinking fountains! All of the water fountains were little wall niches where you leaned through the wall to take a drink. Definitely NOT accessible by ADA standards, but dripping with vintage cool.

We finished up the day trip with lunch at McCLard's. So old timey, they don't even accept debit/credit and we had to run to an atm. Today, I realized, I haven't been to historic Hot Springs since I was a kid. I've only made lake-trips since I was 10. Being there appealed to the vintage-vixen in me and really made me want to go back, so we're planning a weekend for this summer. I can't wait!



  1. Sounds like a fun trip! I love the pics of the hospital. BUT O.M.G. I watched that crazy horrible creepy movie too!! Yowza. Nightmares. For reals. And the pictures you posted of it totally distracted me and I had to go back and re-read everything after it!! :)

  2. Thanks! It was so cool, it didn't even feel real. I couldn't believe it was a real hospital people work in every day. And yeah...I don't know what possessed me to keep watching that movie!


I love hearing from y'all! Tell me what you think.