Friday, June 19, 2015

Petit Jean State Park Visitor Center

The woman staffing the visitor center was not outgoing or helpful, but we did fine on our own, looking at exhibits:

and watching the bird feeder:

This statue is of Petit Jean, for whom the park is named:

We didn't realize there was a lake behind the building but went back another day once we figured that out:

You can rent a boat, but we didn't. They also offer Rent-A-Yurts, which you may can see through the trees:

There's a boarded up building between the Visitor Center and Lake Bailey:

Hardison Hall, built in 1948, was named after T. W. Hardison, a physician and naturalist who was instrumental in getting the area designated as a state park and who is considered the father of the park system. It was closed in 1974. Several efforts have been made to explore ways of renovating/restoring the building, but it seems the cost is prohibitive. Arkansas Online says,
Hardison Hall, measuring about 14,000 square feet, was built by the Arkansas Resources and Development Commission in 1948 at a cost of about $95,600. The structure’s original tri-level floor plan includes six 1,100-square-foot barracks-like dormitory rooms, four 200-square-foot bedrooms, a 200-person-capacity auditorium with a stage, and a 360-square-foot kitchen with a pantry. Additional areas within the structure include a 1,200-square-foot lounge, a reception area, a staff meeting room, an office, four restrooms and storage closets.
There is a Facebook page campaigning to stop its demolition. It does seem a shame to raze it.


  1. Some people who work in these Centers are paid and others are volunteers. It's often hard to tell if you'll get a helpful person or not. But I suspect you really didn't need that much help, anyway. I'm sure you had an idea of what to see before you went.

    It's sad about the building that could be razed. It doesn't surprise me, though. In conversations with my British internet friends, I often comment about how we Americans are so quick to demolish and build something new, rather than restore and repair. That's why European history and architecture are so much richer than ours. Seems we prefer to be "modern" in every sense of the word.

    I hope you enjoyed your time at the Park, though.

    1. It's the cost of bringing the property up to code and into ADA compliance that are the issues with this one. I wonder how much it'll cost to demolish it. There's a lot of concrete there.

  2. What wonderful nature! That third photo from the lake is stunning!

    1. That's where the yurts are. My son wants to do the rent-a-yurt thing lol