People Saving Places: Elise Roenigk and the Basin Park Hotel

Downtown view of Basin Park Hotel

May has been designated as Preservation Month by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in order to promote historic sites and heritage tourism, with a 2022 focus on the People Saving Places. The Basin Park Hotel, which has served as “the Centerpiece of Main Street Eureka Springs” for over a century, is owned by Elise Roenigk, a preservationist of national significance and one of those special people.

The 1905 Basin Park Hotel

Built as a first-class hotel, neglected during the depression, restored as a speakeasy, and later a museum, The Basin Park Hotel was brought back to life by the current owner Elise Roenigk, and her late husband Marty, 25 years ago.

The hotel first opened its doors on May 5, 1905, with a grand opening on July 1st. The Basin Park Hotel cost $150,000 to build and was equipped with all modern conveniences.

Over its first 92 years, the hotel shuffled through almost a dozen different owners.  Neglected during the Great Depression, it was restored as a speakeasy and later served as a museum.

In 1996, Elise and her husband stopped in Eureka Springs, Arkansas while visiting nearby Fayetteville from their home in Connecticut. Charmed by the historic buildings in the area, the couple purchased the tallest building in Eureka Springs, the downtown Basin Park Hotel, with the idea of semi-retirement and converting the sixth and seventh floors into a bi-level apartment and display area for their mechanical music collection.

Three months later, when the 1886 Crescent Hotel became available for sale, the couple bought it and shifted plans, moving instead to what would become the

restored skyline of the landmark.   Elise however remained committed to the hotel and the downtown district that lured her to Eureka Springs.  Standing on her philosophy of “Old buildings should be repurposed and restored.  There is always a solution and alternative to demolishing or abandoning our character and history” Elise provided steady guidance on efforts to protect the irreplaceable hotel.

Renovations under Elise’s stewardship have always had a keen focus on period-appropriate decor.  This would include a return of the lobby layout and design, Jack Rabbett’s Whisky Bar, Fully restored hallways and corridors, the addition of Spa1905, and the restoration of every guest room with arts-n-crafts decor and furnishing.

Elise has long been a preservationist.   From her time living in the historic town of East Hampton, CT, and serving on Middlesex County Historical Society to today, where she remains philanthropically involved in the community through her involvement with such non-profits as The Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow, Eureka Springs School of the Arts (ESSA), and Main Stage Community Center.

In 2022, the Basin Park Hotel celebrates its 117th birthday.  Today, the iconic structure still stands tall in the heart of downtown Eureka Springs.   One of the tenets in the hotel’s creed is “Protecting the irreplaceable,” and due to the support of our hotel guests and local patrons, we are able to reinvest that into the property.

Elise Roenigk Honored by her employees for 25 Years of stewardship of the Basin Park Hotel

From Elise

The Basin Park Hotel will help Celebrate Preservation Month and its People Saving Places.  All members of the preservation community can enjoy a $99 room rate on Any Sunday or Monday between May 8 – 5/23 with a FREE upgrade to the best available in appreciation for their efforts.

Thank you for protecting the irreplaceable