Basin Park Hotel Stories
Court Decides Case Involving Slot Machines and Illegal Bars
Basin Park Hotel Manager Joe Parkhill Pleaded guilty in circuit court Wedensday to a charge of possesion and operation of slot machines in his hotel, and was assessed a fine of $150 by Judge Maupin Cummings. 3 machines seized in the raid during the Barefoot Ball last June were ordered destroyed by the Judge.
Wedensday afternoon Sheriff Deweese and Deputy Sheriff W. D. Binam, assisted by Rex Martz, local deputy broke up the three machines in the side yard by the court house and burned the wreckage. The question of whether the money taken from the machines should be turned over to the county or returned to Parkhill, was taken under advisement by the court.
Parkhill also plead guilty to a charge of operating a bar and selling intoxicating liquors without a license, and was fined $250. Other defendants charged following the Spetmeber raids which included the Crescent Hotel, were Dwight Nichols and Lawrence Thurman.
Location, location, location! Located in Historic Downtown Eureka Springs Since 1905
The choice location for the Basin Park Hotel was on the north side of Basin Circle Park, on Spring Street, in the downtown building district. It was built on the site of the Perry House, a four story hotel built in 1881.
Captain Joseph Perry built the hotel after moving to Eureka Springs because of poor health. He had several hotels, in different locations in the United States, prior to his arrival here.
A Grand Opening was held on July 1, 1905. William M. Duncan and his associates built it. They owned The Syndicate Company that owned and operated many businesses in town. The building, including furnishing, cost over $50,000.
Like the Crescent Hotel and many other buildings in town, the limestone quarry near the town of Beaver provided the rock exterior of the hotel.
There are several horizontal rows of red dolomite around this building. Although very evident when built, it is quite easy to miss seeing the red dolomite now.
In it original state, the Basin Park Hotel had 100 rooms, a cage elevator, electric lights, steam heat, and telephones in the rooms. It also had complete fire protection.
Ripley's "Believe it or Not"
Eureka springs is an unique and quaint Victorian town nestled in the Ozark Mountains. One thing that intrigues our guests is the fact that every floor of the Basin Park Hotel is ground level, causing it to be recognized by The Ripley foundation.
This is possible because the Basin Park Hotel is built into the mountain. In the early years guests would go out through the different floors and explore the paths in the mountain.
Two Local Hotels Raided for Illegally Operating Bars
Two Hotels in Eureka Springs were raided Saturday night by state and local officers, who had warrants alleging that the managers and others were "selling intoxicating liquor without a license."
Joe Parkhill, manager of the Basin Park Hotel and Jack Rabbitt, an employee were arrested about midnight Saturday. Deputy Sheriff W. H. Binam reported that a quantity of of Arkansas and Missouri whiskey was being sold over an open bar by the drink.
Later the group of officers served warrants on Dwight Nichols and Lawrence Thurman of the Crescent Hotel for alleged "selling of intoxicating liquor without a license." A quantity of liquor with Arkansas revenue stamps was reported to have been found there.
Four plainsclothesmen from the state bureau of revenue visited both establishments last week and reported to Prosecutor Ted Coxsey, who issued the informations.
Sheriff Deweese and Deputy W. H. Binam were accompanied by State Policeman Carl White and the four state revenue men.
All four defendants posted cash bonds of $250 each.
Written in 2003
In 1944, Roy Parkhill, a prominent oilman from Tulsa OK, was convinced to invest in and purchase the floundering Basin Park Hotel and its surrounding property for his young nephew, Joe Parkhill.
Joe Parkhill was a smooth talking salesman and knew the art of entertaining clients. During the war years regular tours from Chicago arrived by train at Monett, MO where Joe and his wife Inez would drive a bus to meet them for an all inclusive and inexpensive Ozark vacation staying at the Basin Park Hotel. The visit also included arranged hayrides, horseback riding, dancing, fishing or perhaps one of the many local parades. Monett MO also housed Camp Mead and soldiers on leave regularly traveled to the Basin Park Hotel on the bus for Saturday night dances.
The Barefoot Ball would prove to be Parkhill's greatest success and most defining legacy. Held in the Barefoot Ballroom it started in 1948 and become an annual tradition in Eureka Springs. Inspired by Ralph Edwards "Truth or Consequences" radio show, a newlywed couple, the Forehans, from Santa Ana, CA were contestants and won a two-week stay in Eureka Springs at the Basin Park Hotel. The consequence was that the couple would arrive and remain barefoot during the entire trip. Good sports, they could be seen trekking barefoot up and down the streets of Eureka Springs. To celebrate the couples accomplishment, Parkhill, complete with a live radio hookup to the "Truth or Consequences" show, held the first ball on June 26, 1948. In 1999, 50 years after that first ball Mrs. Forehan-Pruitt returned to celebrate the Barefoot Ball with her wonderful memories of Eureka Springs.
A true wheeler-dealer, Joe Parkhill had a vision of the Basin Park Hotel as an entertainment center for Eureka Springs and a playground for the rich of Chicago. Joe began to add Cedar to everything in the hotel and the traditional daytime activities of hayrides and dances quickly became upstaged by an evening of gaming and liquor by the drink business. The hotels first floor and the current day Billiards Room on the sixth floor were equipped with slot machines, fake doors marked "storage" and long bars to serve up liquor by the drink. These activities were illegal during this period, however Joe's strategy worked and business at the Basin Park Hotel boomed. Parkhill's "friends" from Chicago became increasingly frequent guest of the hotel. Al Capone's sister was a registered guest for over one month. Joe, registered numerous other "friends" at the hotel at no cost, and some guest stayed until things cooled down for them in Chicago.
Life was sweet for Parkhill, who was also entertaining in such places as the Hotel Muhlbach in Kansas City, French Lick Resort in Indiana or the Goldman Hotel in Fort Smith where he was often the center of attention and his promiscuity became evident. It was the high life, however, in 1955 things were about to change for Joe. The Sheriff decided to take a stand and planned a raid on the Basin Park Hotel during the Barefoot Ball. Of course, it was common knowledge that Parkhill served liquor by the drink and that night the State Police, who often frequented the hotel, let Joe know the raid was planned. The Barefoot Ball was underway and as time passed, no raid. Joe grew impatient as this was his biggest night of the year and at 11PM he made the mistake of instructing the crew to open up the upstairs (Billiards Room) and break out the liquor and slot machines. At 11:20PM the Carroll County Sheriff and State Police raided the Basin Park Hotel and seized all slots and liquor. Parkhill was incensed. He and two others were hauled off to jail. Inez Parkhill, who managed the front desk and the day-to-day hotel operation, would post $1,000 cash bond to free the three men.
Shortly after the raid, the pressure to operate the hotel had grown to great for the Parkhills and Roy Parkhill sold his interest in the hotel to Eureka Springs' celebrity and retired U.S. Representative C.A. Fuller. With the exit of Joe Parkhill, so exited the gambling era. Joe and Inez eventually divorced. Joe remarried and lived in the local area until his death in mid 1980's. Inez also remarried and lives in Eureka Springs.