By Ricki Chaikin, Co-Owner Reclaimed Relics as Featured on Abandoned

These lights were recovered from the roof of The Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The story of the Majestic begins in 1876, when the Avenue Hotel was built just north of where the Majestic now stands. In 1888, the Avenue was renamed The Majestic; a new, larger building was opened in 1902 and quickly became a popular spot for tourists.  The hotel continued to expand and became known for hosting well-known guests from Babe Ruth (Hot Springs was home to the first baseball spring training camps) to famous gangsters such as Bugsy Siegel.

Hot Springs was the Vegas before Vegas and they never skipped a beat. During Prohibition, bootlegging, gambling, and prostitution kept the city alive and quite popular. The government once called Hot Springs home to the “site of the largest illegal gambling operation in the US.”

In the mid-1930s, The Majestic added new spa facilities, making it an even more popular attraction. In most grand hotels, you would walk down the street to the spa. At the Majestic, you walked down the hall. In 1955, August Busch (owner of Busch Breweries) was married at the Majestic, while his famous Clydesdales stood in the parking garage. By 1963, The Majestic could host up to 400 guests and continued to attract wealthy guests.

Although the hotel underwent renovations through the 1980’s and 1990’s, its heyday had passed. The Majestic Hotel closed on October 22, 2006. Various renovation plans have been discussed, but the future of this beautiful, historic building is unclear.

As for what people saw first when entering Hot Springs and nearing the Majestic:  the large lights that stood atop the roof of the hotel; announcing to the city and the world that they were now at The Majestic. In the 1920’s marquee lighting became very popular at hotels and theaters and the exposed lightbulbs were a way to show off the fact that you had electricity!

When Jay made his way to the roof of the Majestic, there were three lights lying on the top of the roof. Apparently, these three had been replaced at some point and instead of being removed, were simply left on the rooftop. The lights still standing were off-limits because the Majestic is a historic landmark and the owner did not want to remove anything still attached to the building. It did, however, work out just perfectly. The three letters that happened to be for sale:  A, M and N.  Or:  M-A-N.  Jay knew right away that these lights would be refurbished into the ultimate MAN cave sign.

After removing the paint and returning the lights to their raw steel, Jay built a steel frame for hanging the three letters. He also put large wrought iron hooks on top of the frame so the lights can either be mounted on a wall or hung from the ceiling.  Then came the challenge of making them work!  After some investigating, we found porcelain sockets original to this type of lighting. We re-wired the lights and left the large electric bulbs exposed, just as they were throughout the early 1900’s! Every consideration to safety has been made to insure decades of worry-free enjoyment. The wiring in the three letters is connected, so they are now a majestic one-switch MAN light.

For decades, thousands of people arrived in Hot Springs and one of the first things they saw were these letters. While their use is left to your imagination, Jay can picture them in a restaurant or any other establishment where men gather to relax and enjoy America’s past times. As past times go, there is nothing more American than baseball—Babe Ruth himself looked at these lights when checking into the Majestic for spring training! If that’s not manly, we don’t know what is!

Ricki, by the way, is on the hunt for a W and O to complete the set. Find out more details, including how you can own this sign on Reclaimed Relics’ site.

Tonight on Abandoned: Hot Springs Hotel, the team heads to Arkansas to explore the Majestic Hotel, known for hosting Babe Ruth and Al Capone, the historic hotel closed its doors in 2006. At the abandoned hotel, the guys do some serious room service and find bathtubs, chaise lounges and a mosaic tile fountain. When Ricki gains access to what was formerly the tallest building in Arkansas, Jay gives Dan and Mark a chance to do some bargaining. Now, Jay must negotiate with the owner to take home at least one of his big finds, or he’ll be in hot water when he gets home to Ricki. Explore some of their other finds and find out how you can own them in Finds From the Hot Springs Hotel gallery.

 

Comments

  1. Amanda
    Hot Springs
    September 26, 2012, 2:47 pm

    I think this is so cool, that ya’ll are doing this show. I used to work there, along with my mom and my deceased husband, my sister, and my cousin. There are alot of memories there.

  2. Angela
    Waukegan,il
    September 26, 2012, 8:26 pm

    I am so glad you went here. My family and I used to go there almost every year. The last few times we went there and saw the majestic left there rotting made me want to cry. I am so sad such a beautiful hotel is just sitting there. I’m glad you had it on your show and are able to save somethings.

  3. Annette
    Deerfield Beach, FL
    September 26, 2012, 8:37 pm

    I stayed at the Majestic Hotel with my mother and grandparents who traveled there from Chicago to take the baths, probably around 1946. Dad stayed home at work. I remember the tile fountain in the lobby, the drinking fountain, and the soda shop. The floor is the same as it was back then. How do you purchase something you salvaged?

  4. Gail
    September 26, 2012, 8:58 pm

    I love this show but I can’t understand why people call them and then don’t want to sell anything. What do they think they’re going to do with a plaster cast of Nixon? Or some dudes eating dinner? LOL The plans they make will never come to pass and all the stuff will be sold at auction anyway. LOL

  5. Mandy
    Tennessee
    September 26, 2012, 9:41 pm

    Where did the “N” come from for the sign? I didn’t see one that
    could have been replaced? Just curious.

  6. Mary
    Texarkana Ar
    September 26, 2012, 10:42 pm

    The first time I went to the Majestic was 1970. We went ever year till it closed. The really tiny doors throughout the place was a family joke for us. We would tell our kids there were little people living in there so they wouldn’t run away from us down the halls. The ice cream shop, pool and the water fountain brought back so many memories. I have some of those keys still. What I’d give for a old piece of that place!

  7. heather
    north carolina
    September 27, 2012, 4:54 am

    I love your show! I think it is great you are preserving history and entertaining people at the same time. You can tell how much respect you have for these things and places and the people who own them. I live in North Carolina but I am from PA so the first time I caught the show it was already half over but I knew immediately you were from PA because of your accents and expressions. Love the show and keep up the good work!

  8. Cody
    Hot Springs
    September 28, 2012, 1:53 pm

    I am thinking that the N that you see in the photo above may have came from ” Majestic Resort Hotel AND Spa”

  9. Mitch Taylor
    Hot springs, AR
    September 28, 2012, 2:39 pm

    I really loved working over at the majestic very sad what happened to it! I snuck it about three months ago! There is nothing in that hotel worth going to see very very very sad!!

    Truthfully the Arlington hotel isn’t that much better! I worked for both hotels and spent the better part of 7 years wasting my time at the Arlington! The hotels are beautiful and historic!! A definite landmark of hot springs! Just wish the ownership and the management felt that way!!

  10. Denise Church
    Kansas
    September 28, 2012, 9:11 pm

    Trying to find out how you can purchase some of the items them recovered from these abandoned locations????

  11. Reclaimed Relics
    October 3, 2012, 9:19 pm

    You can purchase the objects that you see on the show at http://www.reclaimedrelics.com. Thanks for watching!

  12. Chris C.
    October 3, 2012, 11:50 pm

    Judging by old post cards it the sign seems to have said Majestic Hotel-Bathhouse Apartments. The M,A,N could have come from that.

  13. Cathy
    NC
    October 4, 2012, 1:02 am

    Wondering the same as other person, its like they want the guys to come there and haul out whats valuable, just so they will know whats valuable to sell it to someone else. Bugs the heck out of us, Love the show!

  14. jay at reclaimed relics
    p.a.
    October 9, 2012, 8:33 pm

    long day today thought i would check in with you guys and see whats new. i am glad i did. i have just gotta say you guys are awesome.a big thanks to the village that surrounds and supports us. i will check back soon. have a great night.

  15. Ben Sanchez
    TX
    November 26, 2012, 6:07 am

    How could you purchase items like announced on the show. I was interested in the fire extinguishers from the majestic. It would make a great addition to our fire house.

  16. sheila vogel
    the majestic hotel
    August 29, 2013, 8:16 am

    i was a security gaurd at the majestic hotel, hot springs ar. 2012, i and 1 other did the nightshift there and the woodwork alone is outstanding, try gaurding that place at night. very scarey. loved it.

  17. Jennifer Dobrecevich
    United States
    August 29, 2013, 10:12 am

    Dear Rick Chalkin
    Let me start I love your show!!!
    I need a rerun of a show and tell we when it is coming again..
    I stay at the Magestic Hotel for years going 3 times a year and sometime 5 times..Loved the staff and I even have keys for the rooms I stayed in.The folders they gave you with the history of the Hotel and colored photos.
    ..I caught the tail end of your show today August 29th 2013. So I would love to know when that show will be reran again. Did you find anything in the attic like old trunks, and did you find anything in the ball rooms that are there. We were the last couple to be married there and had our reception out by the pool…All the Bridal parties did the baths ect. So I am interested in knowing what you found I may be very interested i buying some piece of history for the hotel I loved the most…Rick please email me and tell me what you have for sale for the Magestic

  18. Jane
    Hot springs
    February 27, 11:15 pm

    Sad that burned tonite in fire