Marquette Hotel

aka: Riviera Hotel

The Marquette Hotel is located at 719 Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs (Garland County), near the Hot Springs Convention Center. The building was constructed in the Chicago School style of architecture by the prominent Arkansas firm of Thompson, Sanders and Ginocchio. The Marquette Hotel thrived in conjunction with Hot Springs’ greatest period of popularity as a resort destination in the early 1930s through the late 1940s. On October 8, 1976, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places under the name Riviera Hotel.

The five-story Marquette Hotel was built on the site of a previous Marquette Hotel (which had been constructed in 1901 as the Navarre Hotel, renamed the Marquette Hotel in 1910, and expanded in 1920). On May 14, 1923, the original Marquette was destroyed by fire, except for its 1920 addition. The current Marquette building was erected in 1930. It added a northern bay that is an exact copy of the 1920 addition and replaced the burned middle bay with one narrower than the original.

The 1930 Marquette was designed by one of the state’s top architects, Charles Thompson, in conjunction with Thompson’s partners at the time, Frank Ginocchio and Theodore (Theo) Sanders. Elements of the Chicago School are present in the organization of its five stories with two tall arches flanking a central panel of windows, as well as its brick exterior forming four-story arches and a simple cornice. The Chicago style is especially evident in the configuration of the Marquette’s exterior, with horizontal metal panels connecting bands of windows within the arches. The street level features large plate-glass windows.

The Marquette Hotel was well situated on the main street in the heart of the Hot Springs business district, located less than two blocks south of Bathhouse Row and near the railroad station, bus depot, and many tourist attractions. Its slogan was “One Minute from Everything.”

On January 10, 1978, a fire that started on the fourth floor damaged more than half of the building, which for some time had been an apartment-hotel rather than providing lodging for tourists. A new owner that same year announced plans to reopen the structure as the Riviera Hotel. Although the building was repaired, the hotel plans did not materialize. The building was listed as vacant in Hot Springs city directories starting in 1978. In 1996, Belle Arti Italian Ristorante opened on the ground floor.

For additional information:
Ivory, Bennie. “Fire Destroys Hotel.” Hot Springs Sentinel-Record, January 11, 1978, p. 1.

Reynolds, Robert E. “The Great Flood of May 14, 1923.” The Record 52 (2011): 139–150.

“Riviera Hotel.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Roy, F. Hampton. Charles L. Thompson and Associates: Arkansas Architects, 1885–1938. Little Rock: August House, 1982.

Nancy Hendricks
Garland County Historical Society


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