Downtown Siloam Springs is a beautiful area filled with historic buildings. Most probably assume that the oldest buildings in the downtown area reside on Broadway, the district’s current main street, but this is not the case. When John Hargrove platted the town in 1880, the streets emanated from Siloam Spring which lies about three city blocks to the west of Broadway Street. Therefore, the oldest standing buildings in the downtown district are those closest to the intersection of West University and North Wright Streets, just to the north of City Park. The oldest of these buildings is the Crown Hotel. Originally named the Lakeside Hotel, it was built in 1881, the very year Siloam Springs was incorporated.
In its infancy, the springs and the “lake” created by the dam on Sager Creek were Siloam’s main tourist attractions. During the summer, the town’s population would swell with travelers coming to drink from the springs which were said to have medicinal properties. The Lakeside Hotel was in an opportune spot to house travelers who wanted to stay close to the waters they came to visit.
In its archives, the Siloam Springs Museum has several photos which show the evolution of the Lakeside Hotel building through the decades. This week’s featured photo, donated to the museum in 1984, shows the hotel in the early 1930’s. By this time, automobiles were prevalent enough technology that the owners of the hotel encased the bottoms of the balcony supports in concrete to protect the poles from any cars that might strike them. Other businesses housed inside the building painted their advertisements on the poles. On the south side of the building (right side of the photo), a coffee shop has hung a sign from the bottom of the balcony and has painted its name on the pillars. On the west side of the building (left side of the photo), a barber shop has done the same. At the time the photo was taken, the bricks still had their original color.
When it was first built, the poles supporting the building’s balcony lacked the concrete protection at the base. Before automobiles were a common form of transportation, there was no need to protect the poles from damage.
Today, the historic building still stands as the Crown Hotel. As the town has changed around it, the hotel has remained largely the same, although the building’s bricks are now painted white.
Written by Chuck McClary using information from the Siloam Springs Museum archives and Images of America: Siloam Springs by Don Warden.
Photos provided by the Siloam Springs Museum and its archives.