Opal's Steak House

Opal’s Steak House is a single-story building designed in the Art Moderne style. Constructed as a restaurant circa 1948 on Park Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County), it has held various businesses over the decades. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004.

The brick and stucco building faces Park Avenue to the south and is turned at an angle to the street. The building is fronted with a door to the left and a window that covers the center and right side of the front wall. Constructed from brick, the front of the building includes two projecting brick bands above the door and window. Both corners of the front façade are curved. Another window appears on the west side of the building, and both windows are horizontal, non-opening. The building is topped with a brick-topped parapet; it is not present at the rear. A second door is located on the west side of the building. (These doors and windows are not original.) Two steel eight-over-eight windows are present in the rear of the building. The roof of the building is slightly sloped.

The interior of the building was not preserved, as multiple renovations to support different types of businesses were undertaken over the years.

The building was constructed between 1946 and 1948. Another restaurant previously operated at the same location. This period saw many restaurants, motels, and other related businesses established along Park Avenue. The street led travelers from into Hot Springs from the north, and the close proximity of the hot springs made the area desirable for travelers. Many came to the city to take advantage of the supposed medicinal benefits offered from soaking in the springs. Advances in medical care and a shift of the tourist industry to the south side of Hot Springs in the 1950s led to the closure of many of the businesses along Park Avenue, but this location continued to house a variety of businesses serving both tourists and locals.

The building first appears on a 1948 Sanborn Fire Insurance map as Opal’s Steak House. That business also appeared in the 1951 city directory. The Golden Drumstick opened in the location in 1952, and a number of other businesses, including a clothing store, used furniture store, and coin-operated laundry, used the building. By 2019, a coffee roaster was located in the building. It is the only structure on the site, with a small parking area located in front and to the side.

For additional information:
“Opal’s Steak House.” National Register for Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Office, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/GA0708.nr.pdf (accessed April 26, 2019).

David Sesser
Henderson State University


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