Cove Lake Bathhouse

The Cove Lake Bathhouse, part of the Cove Lake Recreation Area on Arkansas Highway 309 near Corley (Logan County), is a stone-masonry structure exhibiting an unusual interpretation of the Rustic style of architecture. It was built in 1938 under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief agency, as part of a project to develop Mount Magazine.

In 1935, the U.S. Resettlement Administration (USRA) acquired 110,000 acres on Mount Magazine in an effort to relocate farmers from the poor land available on the mountain and to develop the mountain for other uses. By 1935, the project was designated as the “Magazine Mountain Forestry, grazing, game and recreational project” in WPA records, and an effort began to improve the road from Paris (Logan County) and Havana (Yell County) to the mountain and to create a pair of man-made lakes.

The WPA built the Cove Lake Bathhouse as part of WPA Project No. 165-63-1644, which would also include the Cove Creek Bridge and Cove Creek Tributary Bridge and Cove Lake Spillway Dam/Bridge. V. D. Hill of Paris was the director of the project.

Construction of the Cove Lake Bathhouse began a few days before the April 28, 1938, dedication of the Mount Magazine project, with the Arkansas Gazette reporting that “V. D. Hill, project manager, has received orders to start work on the bath house.”

The completed Cove Lake Bathhouse was a one-story, T-shaped building with a full front porch and a gabled roof. The porch roof of the native stone structure is supported by eight stone columns accessed by a central stairway and smaller stairs at either end. It receives light from banks of hopper-style windows and is fronted by a broad flagstone patio.

“The design of the Cove Lake Bathhouse remains one of the more unusual examples of the Rustic style of architecture,” the National Register nomination states. “The use of the eight plain, slightly-sloped stone piers to support the full-width shed roof porch, the three diminutive, symmetrically-placed gabled vents in the roof slope above and the lack of any significant cornices lend this building a timid awkwardness that is not at all typical of the Rustic style. Nevertheless the fieldstone masonry construction is extremely well-done and typical of the Rustic style. Therefore, though not particularly successful aesthetically, the Cove Lake Bathhouse is significant for its unusual interpretation of this style and for the quality of its construction.”

The Mount Magazine project ultimately involved around 2,500 WPA and USRA workers, a major boost to the area’s economy during the Great Depression. President Franklin Roosevelt turned the Mount Magazine project over to the U.S. Forest Service on August 30, 1938. While much of the project became part of Mount Magazine State Park, the Cove Lake Bathhouse is still operated by the Forest Service as part of Cove Lake Recreation Area.

The Cove Lake Bathhouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 11, 1995.

For additional information:
“Cove Lake Recreation Area.” Recreation.gov. https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/233834 (accessed December 21, 2020).

Story, Kenneth. “Cove Lake Bathhouse; Ozark-St. Francis National Forest.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/LO0056.nr.pdf (accessed December 21, 2020).

“Water Pours Over Spillway of Cove Lake Near Paris.” Arkansas Gazette, April 24, 1938, p. 2.

Mark Christ
Central Arkansas Library System

Last Updated: 12/21/2020