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The facility began its history in 1887 as the first Army and Navy general hospital established during peacetime. The military hospital was built in proximity to the legendary hot springs which many people used for therapeutic healing purposes. In 1933, the hospital was remodeled to the building we know today on top of a hill above downtown Hot Springs. After World War II, many soldiers from Europe were sent and treated for wartime injuries at the facility. In 1960, the facility was turned over to the state and changed to a rehabilitation hospital. In 2009, the facility became the Arkansas Career Training Institute and was closed in 2019. The facility is currently on a list of the most endangered places to be torn down in Arkansas.

The Arkansas Career Training Institute from the 1933 remodel.

Architecture, Building, Church, Black-and-white

The Army and Navy General Hospital facility before the first remodel.

History, Stock photography, Architecture, House

A detailed map of the Army and Navy General Hospital District that includes the number of buildings surrounding the main facility.

Line art, Technical drawing, Diagram, Drawing

The civil war produced many sick and wounded soldiers who sought the healing properties of the hot springs. In 1822, General John A. Logan visited Hot Springs for medical purposes and met up with Doctor Garnett. Garnett convinced Logan to propose an amendment to the Army Appropriation BilI. As a result, the army established the first peacetime general hospital that housed both the army and navy. The facility was built to house a maximum of 100 patients. 

The early 20th century was an era of many breakthroughs in illness and infectious diseases. Doctors began to understand that bacteria caused diseases to spread and the importance of antiseptics. As a result, the facility was remodeled in 1933 as a tower hospital. This was to minimize the distance between wards and make the building more efficient. The hospital was over capacity and needed to be expanded to allow more patients. The new hospital could accommodate up to 500 patients. The facility saw a rapid increase in patients during World War II and admitted over 1,800 patients in June 1945. 

The hospital was used as a training facility for military personnel. The facility offered courses in laboratory, X-ray, dental, pharmacy, medical and surgical technicians. The Army established the first Medical Department Enlisted Technicians School for members of the Women’s Army Corps at the Army and Navy General Hospital in 1943. 

During World War II the thermal waters of Hot Springs became popular for the use of hydrotherapy treatment. The newly renovated hospital had a modern bath, vapor cabinets, an underwater pool, and whirlpool equipment that used the steaming waters from the hot springs. The Army and Navy Hospital was used to treat Poliomyelitis and was the largest treatment facility for the disease. In 1943, the hospital established the first Army Arthritis Center and their primary goal was to provide relief of pain and improve range of motion. 

In the early 1950s, the Army and Navy Hospital was closed as a result of the military trying to downsize their operations. In 1960 the federal government gave the facility to the state of Arkansas. The institution reopened under a new name, The Hot Springs Rehabilitation Center. By the early 1960s at least twenty-six courses were offered with over 135 students enrolled. In the late 2000s, the medical wing of the hospital was closed and the facility was renamed the Arkansas Career Training Institute. The facility focused on vocational training to train students for the outside world. Finally, in 2019 the building was closed for good and has remained vacant. 

Alta Smith to Bud, 31 October 1953, letter at the Garland County Archives, Hot Springs.

Report of Sanitary Inspection of Army and Navy General Hospital, Hot Springs, Ark., on December 23, 1918, by Lieut. Col. H. B. McIntyre, M. C. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 721 (Army and Navy Gen. Hosp.) K.

Correspondence relative to land and buildings at Hot Springs, Ark., for hospital sites. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 601 (Hot Springs, Ark.) S.

Shown on weekly bed reports. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 632 (U).

“Army and Navy General Hospital District.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at

Enna, Carl. “Arkansas Career Training Institute.” Encyclopedia of Arkansas, 29 Oct. 2020, 

Image Sources(Click to expand)

“Army and Navy General Hospital District.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at

FIG. 165.-Army and Navy General Hospital, Hot Springs, Ark.