The Historic Fordyce-Ricks House

Zoie Clift
A Walks Through
History tour is set for this Saturday (April 17) for the Fordyce-Ricks House
Historic District at 1501 Park Ave. in Hot Springs. The Fordyce-Ricks
House is a noteworthy building of the district. 
Completed in 1909,
this Adirondack style estate was built by railroad mogul Colonel Samuel W.
Fordyce. When he arrived in the city in 1873, he saw the potential of
Hot Springs as a health resort, and worked towards making the vision a reality. 

He invested in many of
the town’s early infrastructure including hotels, the Opera House, the street
railway system and several bathhouses. The Fordyce Bathhouse, now the National
Park Visitors Center, is among these. Fordyce was also instrumental in having
Hot Springs named the first National Reserve in the U.S, an entity that would
later evolve into the National Park Service.

In an autobiography about
Fordyce, he mentions the planting of a Southern tree, the Magnolia, on the
southern side of the driveway as well as the Arbor Vitale, a Northern variety, on the north side of the drive. These trees were to symbolize the
reconciliation between North and South in the recent aftermath of the Civil
War. The house was sold in 1937 to General Earl T. Ricks, who was a general of the Arkansas National Guard, mayor of Hot Springs, and an American
Aviation Hall of Fame inductee.  The house remains the best example of the
Adirondack style in the city and in 2003 was listed on the National
Register of Historic Places.

The “Walks
Through History” program is a series of monthly outdoor walking tours
hosted by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. The goal of the program
is to introduce people to the historic structures and sites around them. The
tours begin at 11 a.m. on Saturdays.

Join the Conversation