Hilltop Manor, a historic hotel in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, was originally built in 1890 by a gentleman named Mose Klyman. He was a Jewish man who belonged and is still remembered by the Congregation House of Israel in Hot Springs.
Mose was also Vice President on the Leo N. Levi Memorial Hospital Association. A hospital that is serving citizens yet today. Mose owned a laundry in downtown Hot Springs called Craighead Laundry, which is also still operating. It is rumored that he mixed with the gangsters who roamed Hot Springs in the early 1900s. He stood as a witness in a court hearing in 1921 stating that he had frequented the Arkansas Cigar Store and had participated in card games played there for money. These gambling rooms were for invited guests only. They would pay $6 for a seat at a table. This money was considered the fee for the house to keep the rooms open and available. Then the money won & lost on the table was in addition to that. The largest loss at one time that the defendants could recall for a participant was about $150. In the early 1900s, it is said that Al Capone and his associates had been present at parties hosted by Mose.
Hilltop Manor Bed and Breakfast is a gentlemen’s home - Mose was a bachelor when he built his estate. This explains the Craftsman style versus Victorian, which was so popular in the 1890s. Mose may have thought he was a confirmed bachelor when he built the manor, however nothing lasts forever. He married a woman named Billie Leonard. They went on a whirlwind honeymoon tour to Asia, which is where they purchased the lighting that still hangs in the dining room today. The chandelier and sconces in the dining room are a combination of Craftsman and Asian style - very much like the exterior of the home. The antique lighting is about 100 years old; it originally would have been installed with gas and then converted to electricity. Electricity didn’t come out to this part of the city until 1926, over 30 years after the manor was built. So you will find five original fireplaces inside the home which kept it warm. Hardwood floors throughout Hilltop Manor are still original and have a unique border around each room. This gives the impression of a separation of rooms even with the large pocket doors open.
Prior to Mose Klyman, the history is sketchy. We aren’t certain who owned the property; however, there is evidence that the land was used for farming. Stone walls surround the property; a pit, a horse trough, remnants of a retail shop, and large barn still remain, as well as the stairs to the first farmhouse. A lovely stone Spring House is intact. It is rumored that Frank and Jesse James used the barn as a hideout during their misdeeds in Hot Springs. January 15, 1874, Jesse James and “party” robbed their first known stagecoach near Hot Springs. It was said to bring in $1,000 - $8,000 in cash and jewels. After Jesse’s death, a gold watch from one of the passengers was found among his effects. It is said he may have been drawn to Hot Springs for the mineral baths since Jesse suffered leg and chest wounds during the Civil War.
City of Hot Springs
Hot Springs, Arkansas was named for the world-famous thermal waters that flow into the historic downtown district of the city. About a million gallons of the 143°F water issue forth daily from 47 hot springs. The City of Hot Springs is the only American city located within a national park. Hot Springs National Park was established in 1921. It was set aside as the nation’s first National Reservation in 1832, due to the need for federal protection of the hot springs. This is why Hot Springs National Park is the first in a series of National Parks to have a minted quarter in The America the Beautiful Quarters Series. It was just released in April 2010.
In 1673, Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet explored the area and discovered the springs before claiming the area for France. After the French and Indian War ended in 1763, the area came under Spanish rule. In 1800, control of the land returned to Napoleon’s French Empire before President Thomas Jefferson bought the land in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, doubling the size of the United States. In 1818, Quapaw Indians ceded the land to the United States during a treaty signing in St. Louis, Missouri.
Hot Springs has had a wild life and continues to flourish today. You can find more information about Hot Springs history at Arkansas.com and Hotsprings.org.