11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Bathhouse Row, Hot Springs National Park

Year Listed: 2003
Location: Arkansas
Threat: Deterioration, Neglect

Bathhouse
Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas. Bathhouse Row was on the 2003 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

Credit: National Trust for Historic Preservation

Significance

For thousands of years, travelers have come to Hot Springs to be healed by its curative waters. Today, Hot Springs National Park, the oldest unit in the national park system, protects 47 springs -- as well as eight historic bathhouses. Constituting North America’s greatest collection of these unique structures, the buildings along Bathhouse Row offer an intriguing glimpse of early 20th-century social practices and quirky wellness therapies. With their eclectic architecture and decorative flourishes, these facilities were once among the most luxurious in the world -- but not any more. Mothballing and basic stabilization efforts have kept them standing, but the long-term survival of these evocative links with the "Golden Age of Bathing" is dependent on the sensitive redevelopment and implementation of viable adaptive-use strategies. If the Hot Springs bathhouses are allowed to disappear, an elegant era of leisure and grace will run out of steam.