Basin Park Hotel Press

Early photo of the Basin Park Hotel

Eureka Springs' 1905 Basin Park Hotel Celebrates 100 Years of Hospitality

Three-day Centennial Celebration To Feature Reunion Barefoot Ball, VIP Event

EUREKA SPRINGS, AR - The historic 1905 Basin Park Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, will celebrate 100 years of history, service and hospitality July 1 - July 3 during a three-day "Centennial Celebration & Reunion" led by former United States Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt of Harrison. The Basin Park Hotel was an integral part of the early years of tourism in the state, drawing thousands of visitors seeking renewed health and leisure.

Located in the hub of the downtown historic district of Eureka Springs, the hotel is adjacent to the cold water Basin Spring, which came to be the heart of the new health resort community 100 years ago. With its signature white limestone and pink dolomite rock walls built into the side of a mountain, all eight levels of the hotel are at "ground level," bringing the hotel international recognition by being named to Ripley's Believe It Or Not list.

A birthday festivity will kickoff the celebration weekend on Friday, July 1, at 1 p.m. for hotel employees, tourism VIPs and local citizens. Former employees of the Basin Park Hotel, as well as local citizens that were part of the hotel's history will reminisce during a roundtable discussion immediately following the event at 2 p.m.

At 5 p.m. an invitation-only event, including state notables, tourism VIPs and past guests and employees of the hotel, will feature a Eureka Springs memorabilia show with live entertainment and keynote address by Hammerschmidt. A painting commissioned by local artist Larry Mansker, will be presented for auction. All proceeds will benefit the Eureka Springs Historical Museum.

The current-day Rooftop Billiards Room, located on the sixth floor of the hotel, will also be renamed the Lucky 7, as it was well known by visitors in the 1940s.

Saturday will kickoff with an antique car parade led by former Basin Park Hotel limo driver Floyd Pendergraff, who will chauffeur Grand Marshall Hammerschmidt. A Reunion Barefoot Ball will follow that evening.

The Barefoot Ball, initiated in 1948, was inspired by Ralph Edwards' radio show Truth or Consequences . A newlywed couple from Santa Ana, California won a two-week vacation in Eureka Springs at the Basin Park Hotel from the show. The "consequence" was that the couple had to arrive and remain barefoot for the duration of the trip. To celebrate the couple's accomplishment, Joe Parkhill, owner and manager of the hotel at the time, held the first ball on June 25, 1948.

Arkansas' own Greasy Greens will provide live entertainment at the already sold-out July 2 event. Original Barefoot Ball Queen and Truth or Consequences winner Marge Pruitt, who now lives in Irvine, California, will be in attendance.

A "Charming Farewell" event will conclude centennial activities on Sunday morning.

"This celebration is more than a trip down memory lane, "Basin Park Hotel General Manager Jack Moyer said. "The Basin Park Hotel is a gem in the foundation of Arkansas' tourism, and a cornerstone of Eureka Springs' history. This once-in-a-lifetime celebration will be a weekend for everyone to enjoy."

For more information about the 1905 Basin Park Hotel or scheduled centennial events, visit www.basinpark.com or contact the hotel concierge at 800-643-4972, ext. 350.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Eureka Springs one of America's Distinctive Destinations for being one of the best-preserved and most unique communities in the United States. An authentic 19th century Victorian resort located in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, the town is encircled by two beautiful lakes and two scenic rivers and is filled with old-world charm and European flavor.

Claude Fuller

A Family Affair: The 100 Year Anniversary of the Basin Park Hotel

Prominent Eureka Springs Family Intertwined with Landmark Hotel's History

EUREKA SPRINGS, AR - Next month will mark the 100-year anniversary of the historic 1905 Basin Park Hotel, a tourism milestone in the heart of downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Known for its unique construction and rich and colorful history, the story of the Basin Park Hotel cannot be told without mentioning the legacy of one of the city's and nation's most notable leaders.

It is not known if there was one defining moment when Claude A. Fuller decided he would become a mover and shaker in the city of Eureka Springs, but much of the former United States congressman's life, and the lives of his descendants, would be wrapped up in one of the city's major landmarks - the Basin Park Hotel.

It was during his second term as Mayor that Fuller, at age 50, purchased (for the first time) the Basin Park Hotel in 1926. During this time, he also owned the historic 1886 Crescent Hotel.

"I can never think of the Basin Park Hotel without thinking of my late grandfather, Claude A. Fuller," said John Fuller Cross, Chairman of the Bank of Eureka Springs and grandson of Fuller. "He had an illustrious career in this town, state and nation."

One hundred years ago this year, a curious eight-story construction - literally against the side of a mountain in the heart of Eureka Springs was completed. The Basin Park Hotel opened to much fanfare; with the oddity that each of the eight floors was on ground level, "fireproof," the result of its mountainside construction.

The Fuller/Cross Family

At the time, Fuller was working as a lawyer and completing a stint in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

To understand Fuller's rise to prominence locally and nationally, you must understand that tireless work and a sense of adventure was behind everything he did. At the age of nine his family moved from Illinois to a small farm outside Eureka Springs. Fuller hit the ground running, whether out of necessity or simply the drive to work, plucking chickens for another of Eureka Springs' hotels of grandeur, the 1886 Crescent Hotel, driving a mule for the Eureka Springs Street Railway and hopping freight trains back and forth to and from Chicago. Fuller also worked as a dishwasher in the red light district of The Windy City during the 1893 World's Fair.

Deciding that law held the keys to his future, he apprenticed for two years in a Eureka Springs law firm and passed the bar in 1898 at age 22. No law degree was required at the time.

Fuller wasted no time making a name for himself. He immediately began practicing law and embarked on a concurrent career in public service by serving a two-year term as City Clerk of Eureka Springs. After that he spent two years (1903-1905) in the Arkansas House of Representatives, followed by the first of two terms as Mayor of Eureka Springs from 1906-1910, and again 1920-1928. In between he served as prosecutor for the Fourth Arkansas Judicial District, 1910-1914. He also found time to serve as president of the Eureka Springs School Board, 1916-1928.

Under Fuller's terms as mayor, the courthouse and City Auditorium were built. A mere three years later, Fuller was elected to the U.S. Congress where he would serve for 10 years. He sold both hotels in 1931, but this would not be his last venture into the hotel business.

During the 1940s, while Fuller was practicing law and was engaged in banking and agricultural businesses, the Basin Park Hotel slipped back into the family, but at a distance. Roy Parkhill, a cousin of Fuller's, purchased the hotel for his nephew.

Fuller was nearing 80 when he purchased for the second time the "gem of the Ozarks" - as the Basin Park Hotel was called - from his distant relation.

John Fuller Cross, Fuller's grandson, was in his 20s in 1960 and asked his grandfather for the chance to operate the hotel's restaurant.

Cross was involved with the Basin Park Hotel and other business interests when Fuller died in 1968, bequeathing the hotel to his daughters, Ruth (Cross's mother) and her sister, Dorothy Mathews. Cross's mother sold her interest to him in 1971 and he operated the Basin Park until 1975 when he and his aunt sold it.

Over the years Cross followed a path well worn by his grandfather. He entered banking, becoming Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of the Bank of Eureka Springs, encouraging restoration, tourism and promotion of the city. Cross is keenly aware of the city's rich history and the role his family continues to play. In fact, he has referred to the bank as a "working museum." The bank was built specifically to bring back the Victorian look of Eureka Springs. It is filled with period furniture, artifacts, including a few precious pieces that belonged to Fuller.

A champion of historic preservation, Cross points to the bank as an example of leading by example.

Cross not only knows Eureka Springs inside and out, he believes passionately in the uniqueness and singularity of it as a treasured piece of American history. And at the center of this American treasure, your will find the Basin Park Hotel.

"It is the heart and soul of downtown Eureka Springs," says Cross.

 
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