Once regarded as one of Arkansas’ finest hotels, the Hotel Pines is a historic Pine Bluff building in need of restoration.
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In the early twentieth century, the Main Street section of Pine Bluff north of the railroad tracks was a thriving business center, while the southside was not. In an effort to extend economic success south of the railroad tracks, Pine Bluff’s prominent leaders and business owners dreamed up a modern hotel.
In 1913, the Hotel Pines was designed by Arkansas State Capitol architect and interior decorator George Mann and Paul M. Heerwagen, respectively. The six-story, U-shaped hotel featured retail shops on the ground floor, a ballroom and conference rooms on the second floor, and rooms for all price ranges on the upper floors. The picture of classical detailing, the front of the hotel showcased its three-bay portico, ionic columns, and a third floor balcony. The lobby featured barrel vaulted, gray marble columns and pilasters, and a multicolored stained glass skylight. Designed to accommodate a vast array of guests, the Hotel Pines had both luxury suites, as well as smaller rooms with shared bathrooms for guests of modest means. It was one of Arkansas’ finest hotels.
Located at the northwest corner of Main Street and West 5th Avenue in downtown Pine Bluff near Union Station, the hotel thrived on its railroad clientele for the next fifty-seven years. It became the location of banquets, society balls and dances, and business and civic meetings.
Unfortunately, in 1968 railroad service to Pine Bluff ended, and the hotel lost its primary clientele. In the spring of 1970, the Hotel Pines closed its doors. In 1979, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as an abandoned and endangered historic building.
In 1991, Citizens United to Save the Pines (C.U.S.P.), a Pine Bluff non-profit group, purchased the building and began making repairs. They cleaned the building, replaced the roof, installed new windows, and renovated the lobby’s stained-glass ceiling. In 2003, C.U.S.P. sold the building to Davidson Properties of Jacksonville for ten dollars. Davidson Properties planned to make the hotel available for offices, business suites, and seventy-five upscale hotel rooms by spending eighteen months and $3 million on renovations. None of these plans came to pass. In 2008, Pine Bluff native Elvin Moon, bought the property with plans to convert the hotel into a mixed residential and commercial space, but was thwarted by 2008’s financial crisis. On January 17, 2017, Moon sold the property to Pine Bluff Rising, a local non-profit working to revitalize the city. They soon began undertaking restoration efforts.
Written by: Ninfa O. Barnard