"Arbordale - Fountain Lake"

Information courtesy of Garland County Historical Society & Bill Lerz

Photo postcard compliments of Donna Smith

What's Behind the Big White Stucco Arch?

As you drive down Park Avenue headed to Benton or Hot Springs Village, you pass a very peculiar white arch across from Fountain Lake Shopping Center.

I have asked many local residents what mystery lies behind the grand white entryway.  Is this the entrance of a rich person's estate?  Does the tree-lined driveway lead to a mansion owned by someone famous?  Most people don't know that from 1933 until 1949, this was Fountain Lake, an entertainment complex just 4 miles from Hot Springs on the old Little Rock highway.

Fountain Lake had picnic areas, a large swimming pool, dance pavilion, lodge, cottages, a wishing well, pinball arcade and fireworks on July 4th!  Local historian Bill Lerz claims that as many as 1500 to 2000 people gathered for leisure and amusement beyond the white archway.

Dr. H. D. Ferguson developed the property back in 1933, and the Welchman family took ownership in 1945.  On Sunday morning, December 20, 1953 the property was destroyed by fire.  It was never rebuilt.

In 1958 the Arkansas Sheriff's Association considered buying the abandoned property for a proposed boy's ranch.  In 1962 the Fountain Lake resort property of 157 acres was purchased by Arbordale Springs, Inc of Springdale, Arkansas.  The intention was to develop a Lutheran Senior Citizens Home and retirement area.  That dream never became a reality.

The property is now owned by Affiliated foods of Little Rock, who purchased it in 1993.  Five of the 25 springs on the property produce more than one million gallons of spring water a day.  If you drive by the facility now, sometimes you can see tanker trucks hauling water to Little Rock to be bottled as Mountain Pure Drinking Water.

Although this is the original Fountain Lake, there is a neighboring town with that same name, including Fountain Lake Schools and Fountain Lake Shopping Center.

I have toured the facility and seen the lake and many of the rock "building foundations" of the old structures that once graced this beautiful property.  Why doesn't Hot Springs have any swimming areas like this anymore?  Why hasn't someone done more with the property than draw water from it?

This aerial view, provided by Map Quest reveals Park Avenue, the white arch and the lake located at the end of the tree-lined driveway.

Dr. Rando, PhD of Wit


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