Last updated: November 15, 2020
Hot Springs is home to the former Army-Navy Hospital, the first general hospital in the nation that provided treatment to both Army and Navy patients.
The dream of the Army-Navy Hospital came to be during a dinner party in the Palace Bathhouse in 1882. Sen. John Logan declared Hot Springs to be “an ideal location for an institution of this character” and promised to introduce legislation for an appropriation upon his return to Washington, D.C. The Army-Navy Hospital opened to patients in January 1887 and was led by the Secretary of War, but control was handed off to the U.S. Army in 1957.
In the early 1930s, the original building was replaced with a brick-mortar and steel facility with 412 beds. It cost a mere $1.5 million, which would equal nearly $15 million in today’s market. (Photos of both facilities seen below)
During World War II, the hospital was at its peak business, having become the army’s leading medical facility in the country for treating patients with arthritis. Even after the close of the war, the hospital continued to grow, serving more than 100,000 veterans by 1945.
In 1960, the hospital became a rehabilitation center and was run by the state of Arkansas. It continues to serve as one of the most interesting historical landmarks in the state.