A stately component of Bathhouse Row at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is moving from soothing patrons with hot waters to slaking them with microbrews.
The Superior Bathhouse was built in 1916, closed in 1983, gutted in the 1990s when its fixtures were removed and its plaster wallcoating removed, and rehabilitated in 2008, according to Park Service records. Now it will house a microbrewery run by Vapor Valley Spirits, Inc., park officials announced last week.
"We are very excited about the possibilities and thrilled that another one of these beautiful buildings will be re-opening to serve visitors and offer a new experience in the park," said Park Superintendent Josie Fernandez.
The lease-signing was the culmination of negotiations between the Park Service and Vapor Valley that included submitting all architectural renderings and getting approvals that take into account operating in a historic building.
The lease authorizes the company to brew and distill alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, operate a restaurant and a retail shop that offers business and park-related merchandising as well as host tours, tastings, and offer education programming. The lease also allows for special events for private functions.
"This venture also aims to harness the power of our famous thermal water to save energy and reduce production costs while making world-class beers, spirits, and root beer," Superintendent Fernandez said in a release. "This is a viable and appropriate new use of the building that is in keeping our historic preservation mandate and provide an positive economic impact to this community."
The NPS has executed three long-term leases at Hot Springs National Park since 2007. Quapaw Baths and Spa offers spa services and the thermal waters in pools and or a private setting Quapaw Bathhouse. The Museum of Contemporary Art operates at the former Ozark Bathhouse and it is a setting for wedding receptions and gatherings.