Arkansas January 18, 2018
The New Chapter For This Fallen, Beloved Arkansas Landmark Is A Happy One
Every Arkansan was a little heartbroken when the Hot Springs’ Majestic Hotel stayed abandoned, then burnt and was completely demolished. We’re excited to share with you today a bit of good news, as the iconic landmark will live on through a new business. Let’s look at what we know so far.
First, a brief history lesson.
The Majestic originally opened as The Avenue Hotel in 1882, with the final name change in '88. It was one of the first brick buildings in Hot Springs, featuring 150 rooms, 50 of those with private baths. The Majestic was popular with tourists and had no shortage of celebrity visitors either. It was the home to the Pittsburgh Pirates during spring baseball training in the early 1900s and Babe Ruth reportedly considered The Majestic hotel his favorite place to stay. It was also frequented by notorious gangster, Bugs Moran, arch rival to Al Capone.
Unfortunately, due to different circumstances and outside forces, The Majestic began to decline. After ups and downs of renovations, new owners, and changing cityscape, the hotel closed in 2006.
After the hotel's closure, the once prominent city treasure became nothing more than a dilapidated building filled with memories and unsought potential.
Our friends AbandonedAR successfully documented the abandoned Majestic during multiple visits. We have their photo tours linked at the bottom.
There were different attempts at renovations.
After its closure in 2006, the building was donated to Ark of Arkansas. The non-profit wanted to turn the hotel into affordable housing. Then, after the fire, Garrison Properties took control in 2012. They were going to turn what was left of the building into retail space and apartments, which also never came to fruition. In 2016 the city completely demolished The Majestic and left nothing but an empty lot with broken bricks.
In 2010, unconfirmed arson engulfed The Majestic.
The tragedy took 22 hours to extinguish with the help of more than 75 firefighters.
We may still be a bit sore from the loss of The Majestic, but there are people working to preserve its memory.
Wally Mueller and Brenda Brandenbury are opening a bakery and cafe on Park Avenue, near the graveyard that is The Majestic. Both have close ties to the hotel; Brandenbury even used to help her father carry his drums in before his sets at the hotel.
The Majestic Bakery & Cafe will be a sweet way to pay respects to the fallen hotel.
After renovations, stepping into the shop will transport you to the 40s and 50s. The cafe will also be filled with Majestic memorabilia, which the two have been collecting for a while.
The Majestic Bakery & Cafe is also making headway by being Hot Springs' first gluten-free shop.
Everything will be gluten-free and with some lactose- and sugar-free options, too. Baker Wally Mueller has already been perfecting delicious treats (like this gluten-free raspberry tart) within these dietary restraints.
Although everyone would have loved to have seen The Majestic preserved in its full form on the National Register of Historic Places, honoring its memory and preserving pieces is an excellent way to keep The Majestic alive.
We're looking forward to the Majestic Bakery & Cafe grand opening on Feb. 27th, 2018. It will be the anniversary date of the fire that destroyed the original building.
If you’d like to learn more about the new owners and their plans, watch this:
To learn more about the Majestic’s history and abandoned photo tour, visit
AbandondedAR’s site. We look forward to sharing our experience and photos as soon as the cafe opens, so stay tuned!
If the name Bugs Moran caught your interest, you should read about
Hot Springs’ ties to the mafia.