You can take a free, self-guided tour inside Fordyce Bathhouse. Also serving as Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center, this bathhouse is the only one in the area that allows guests to explore for tours. This building served for many years as a therapeutic spa aiding people with medical conditions as well as serving as a relaxing venue. Restored to its original condition, the Fordyce Bathhouse allows guests to enter into what life was like here a century ago.
On March 1, 1915, the Fordyce Bathhouse opened operations along Central Street in downtown Hot Springs. Many other bathhouses were closely in the area as it was in the valley between two mountains and near the thermal springs. The only other Bathhouse still in operation from before 1915, is the Buckstaff Baths.
The Fordyce Bathhouse is special in regards to its large size. It features itself as the largest spa on the street at a stunning 28,000 square feet. This huge facility was able to service hundreds of people a day.
For years, people would come to the Fordyce to enjoy the calming waters and even for therapeutic help. Many people with disabilities and muscular issues would visit the bathhouse to be aided by therapists in these thermal baths. This service was similar to what physical therapists do today. Guests could even stay right at the Fordyce in their own stateroom while they were undergoing treatment. A lot of visitors had prescriptions from doctors who believed that the warm water would be therapeutic to their condition.
When the Fordyce Bathhouse closed their doors in 1962, they were the first along Central Avenue to do so of the original eight bathhouses. It was an end of an era as more places were able to help guests in their own cities and Hot Springs became less of a tourist destination from its previous Roaring 20’s desire.
In 1989, the bathhouse was renovated by the National Park Service. Since then it has undergone extensive renovations and became a popular destination for visitors to the Hot Springs area.
How to Visit
The Fordyce Bathhouse is located at 369 Central Avenue. Aside from being a museum open to the public, it is also a visitor center for the National Park. Entering Fordyce Bathhouse is free during hours of operation.
For more information about Hot Springs National Park and Fordyce Bathhouse, please visit the official website here.
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