George T. Williams bought this land for $500.00, built the Palace and then sold the completed facility in May of 1901 for $2,500.00 — and made a profit !
Irish stonemasons who immigrated to this area in the late 1800′s built the PALACE, THE CRESCENT and the rest of the limestone structures including the hundreds of miles of retaining walls seen in Eureka Springs. The limestone was quarried just a few miles from town.
The construction was as might be expected, very high standard, especially by current codes. Today, a builder erects a building and leaves a ‘rough opening’ for the windows and doors, later on in the construction prebuilt windows and doors are placed within those openings, leveled, squared and trimmed. In the PALACE, the window and door frames were built and set into the stone as it went up. This was discovered when the current owners tried to ‘trade’ out some of the more visible window units damaged over time, with others from less visible sections of the building. The timbers used for support in the basement are solid oak, 18″ by 18″, some as long as 25 feet. It must have been a pretty good system for the PALACE to be beyond its 100th Birthday.
George was fascinated with European castles and designed the Palace exterior in similar fashion. Eureka Springs drew travelers from both coasts and Europe. In the early 20′s, mobsters were often seen here. The most known notable celebrity frequenting the PALACE was W.C. Fields. Can you just see him sitting in that wooden steam cabinet, a stogie in his mouth, a bulbous red nose, saying ‘KEEP THOSE CHILDREN OUT OUT HERE !!
The earliest advertising touted, “each of our luxurious rooms has its own steam heat and a new electric light bulb.” Of course, there were no bath tubs in the rooms. If you needed a bath, a steam, massage, or special treatment during your stay, you went downstairs to the Bath House Spa. The bath and the steam in the ‘Turkish Bath’ as it was called was $.50 and $1.00 respectively. Each bath stall had a numbered electric button (at the head of the tub) connected to a control board (near the entry) that was visible to the staff. When pushed, the button rang a bell and tripped a brass arrow on the control board. The “bath attendant”, when summoned, brought soap, toiletries, towels, or whatever, the patron required. There were only two “W.C.’s” (water closets) on each floor. The double door, manually operated, “wire cage elevator” was one of the first electric elevators in the City.
Spring water from “Harding Spring” was piped under the street, about 200 feet into a cistern in the basement. It was then heated and pumped into two (hot and cold) steel vessels mounted on steel beams between the rear wings of the building. The tanks were 2 feet above Bath House floor level, and water pressure was aided by gravity flow to the baths.
The famous neon sign hanging on the front was the first neon sign installed west of the Mississippi River. We have found inconclusive articles stating it was built by the French inventor of neon, Mr. Georges, shipped from France to America, then by rail to E.S. and then by truck to the PALACE. Yes, that was the period of “Prohibition.” Like many hotels of that time, the PALACE really was a bordello. The neon sign was painted by a popular sign painter of the area, whose name was GOLLY – all of his work was signed “By GOLLY.” The sign has been completely restored and is “lighted’ during the early evening hours and on cloudy days. It was during the close of Prohibition that local folklore says (former lady of the evening) “Rosemary” the PALACE Ghost began to appear, after meeting her demise “in the throws of passion.”
The PALACE has been a Hotel & Bath House Spa since 1901, with only a few intermittent periods of vacancy due to wars and economic calamity. Real restoration began in the early 70′s. Extensive restoration in ’82 and ’83 was conducted by previous owners. The Palace Hotel is moving forward in the 21st century with new amenities, new grounds, gazebo, patio garden and stairs, all mixed in with old world charm. Come on and stay with us. We would love to have you as our guests.