HS architect on whether Majestic Hotel could have been "saved" before blaze

HOT SPRINGS (KATV) -{}The historic Majestic Hotel{}was unrecognizable as crews wrapped up demolition{}Saturday evening,{}two days after a devastating fire engulfed the structure. But one local architect has a lot to say about the piece of Hot Springs history that is now a pile of rubble.

Since that blaze and{}into the final stages of the demolition there has been a lot of talk among residents about these historic buildings, specifically the Majestic Hotel. Should the city have done more to save it and restore it? Channel 7 talked{}to a local architect who says it may have been too late.

"I hope that this awful event makes people more conscious of what we need to do to save our other historic buildings," said Liz Robbins, executive director of the Garland County Historical Society.

It's a painful thought that crossed the minds of many residents as the last wall of the Majestic Hotel came crashing down.

"It's so sad to have seen that wonderful historic building get in the condition it was and then to see it go up in flames like that was very, very said," said Robbins.

Thursday's blaze lit up a fire in local residents, including historian Liz Robbins. They don't want to just speak of Hot Springs history, the want to save it. With holes in the roof and a rotting wooden structure, it was far too late for old majestic.

"A lot of progress has been made toward that, toward getting things going and then at this juncture to have this one fine old building to burn was pretty emotional," said Anthony Taylor, co-owner of Taylor and Kempkes Architects which is based in Hot Springs.

Taylor said there's a profit to be made off of salvaging historic buildings but it's not all monetary.

"There are stories to be told about every one of these buildings. The things that happened there, people that were there," he said. "This is who we are as a people, these are the footprints we've left."

He said a movement among residents to preserve that history is now stronger than ever.

"Perhaps this would be a platform from which to go forward. I think it really has galvanized the community," said Taylor.

Taylor said that the previous owner had taken steps to renovate the building and turn it into low-income housing but he was unable to get the funds for the project. That was the last of any known efforts to bring it back to life somehow.