Photo: Arkansas Dept. of Parks & Tourism
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) -- Hot Springs has long been known as the Spa City, and the Buckstaff Bathhouse is celebrating 100 years of bathing the world.
The Buckstaff opened Feb. 1, 1912, and is the only bathhouse that has been in continuous operation on historic Bathhouse Row.
During the 100-year anniversary Manager Michael Branch hopes visitors and residents will take time to enjoy a bath at the Buckstaff. "There are so many people, even those who live here, who have never had one of the traditional thermal baths," said Branch. "We invite people to come to the Buckstaff and see how Hot Springs got its name as the 'Spa City.'"
When the Buckstaff opened its doors some declared it the "handsomest and most complete bathing establishment in the world."
The Buckstaff is named after George H. Buckstaff of Oshkosh, Wis., who began visiting Hot Springs in the early 1880s and believed in the healing powers of the water.
The day before its grand opening, the staff opened the Buckstaff for public inspection. According to an article in the Feb. 1, 1912, edition of The Sentinel-Record, more than 1,000 people visited the bathhouse that day and there were "exclamations of surprise at the perfection of the work of the management in the creation of their ideas."
A visitor from Wisconsin wrote, "as a bathing palace it has no rival in the world."
The three-story, 27,000 square-foot-building cost $125,000 to build. The Buckstaff was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Over the years, much care has been given to retain and restore the building to its original glamour of a bathing palace.
Stepping through the doors of the Buckstaff is stepping back in time. The beautiful marble walls, porcelain tubs, vintage plumbing, and crank elevator make it easy to recall days gone by.
The Buckstaff still offers the traditional bathing regimen, which is not the typical modern-day spa experience. Visitors should remember the bathing routine was originally intended to be a series of treatments to help alleviate or cure various ailments. The routine includes a 20-minute soak in thermal water, hot packs, sitz bath, vapor cabinet and needle shower.
The Buckstaff remains privately operated by the Buckstaff Bathhouse Company and is operated under a concession contract with the U.S. Department of the Interior. All services are regulated and monitored by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service. All attendants are trained and licensed masseuses and masseurs provide massages.
The Buckstaff is located at 509 Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs. For more information, visit the Buckstaff Bathhouse online for more information or call 501-623-2308.