Lamar Bathhouse

Lamar Bathhouse viewed from the southwest along the Magnolia Promenade sidewalk.
Lamar Bathhouse facade viewed from the Magnolia Promenade sidewalk.

NPS photo

The current Lamar Bathhouse opened on April 16, 1923 replacing a wooden Victorian structure named in honor of the former U. S. Supreme Court Justice Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar. He was Secretary of the Interior when the first version of the bathhouse was built in 1888. The stone, brick, and stucco construction is moderately Spanish in flavor and coordinates well with the five other bathhouses with Spanish motifs. The Lamar was unique in that it offered a range of tub lengths (5', 5' 6", 5' 9", 6', 6' 6") for people of various heights. It also had a small coed gymnasium with another separate area for women adjacent to the gymnasium. The Lamar Bathhouse closed on November 30, 1985. Today, the structure houses offices for the park's Resources Management employees, the park archives, museum collection storage spaces, a small research library, and the park store, Bathhouse Row Emporium, operated by Eastern National.

Old wooden Lamar Bathhouse in 1889 with several figures standing out front.
First Lamar Bathhouse, 1889

Kenna Collection, HOSP archives

The present structure cost $130,000 to build. Harry Schwebke’s architectural design for the Lamar can be described as representing “a transitional style often used in clean-lined commercial buildings of the time that were still not totally devoid of elements left over from various classical revivals.” The most distinctive exterior component is the sun porch with its windows of three sections and a wide center bay. The lobby, featuring a long counter of Tennessee marble, was the largest of the eight bathhouses on the Row. Murals and stenciling were added to the lobby and stairways sometime in the 1920s by Danish muralist J. W. Zelm for a European aura. In the mid-1940's, the interior halls and stairs were embellished with marble, ornamental iron balustrades, and silver glass interspersed with red panel wainscots.

Last updated: March 2, 2018

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