Why A Hostel?
Backpackers, bicyclists, international travelers, running enthusiasts, school and scout groups: what do these people have in common with Central Arkansas? They are looking to spend a few days and nights having fun and learning about the attractions that abound in the central metropolitan area of the state. To visit the Big Dam Bridge then travel on down to the River Market or Argenta for lunch. Maybe take a tour of the Maritime Museum, catch an Arkansas Travelers game at Dickey Stephens Park or join in one of the monthly Art Walks. School groups from out of town might be interested in just seeing an exhibit at the Discovery Museum and then having lunch in the River Market before continuing on to learn about our Arkansas Heritage or to the Arkansas Arts Center for a play. If you consider seeing Clinton Presidential Library, Heifer International, Riverfest or attending a function at the Convention Center it might be that an additional stay is warranted later on.
In lots of cities around the world these travelers would stay in a centrally located, clean, secure and affordable place with shared kitchen facilities. A place to mingle in a common area, exchange experiences with others and hang their hat and bunk for the night. There are such places that provide just that and more. They are in converted castles, light houses, life saving stations, historic buildings and houses, literally thousands worldwide. In at night and out by day: A hostel is what we are talking about. Visitors and local businesses are asking “Where is the hostel; when will it be ready?” It will be located in MacArthur Park, next to the Arkansas Arts Center and it is the Original Old Fire Station #2. In January 2006, the City of Little Rock offered the Old Fire Station #2 to Hostelling Arkansas, Inc. for development as a hostel. Along with use of the building, the City will be fulfilling a need to provide innovative and unique lodging in the Park System. A working agreement between Hostelling Arkansas, Inc. and the Little Rock Parks and Recreation Department puts into motion the first steps to Little Rock having its first hostel. You have probably seen the old craftsman styled building many times and not paid much attention to it. Maybe you have enjoyed it previously for a meeting or in the case of one individual- I got to play baseball there with the firefighters way back. Memories are things we experience, keep and share, that is what hostelling is all about. That is what will be the Firehouse Hostel and Museum.
Donations of firefighter memorabilia have come from far and wide and are to be displayed throughout the hostel. With this unique collection of firefighting artifacts, rich with history, we will have items that provide creative opportunities for fire safety education.. Being in MacArthur Park is a great location for the hostel: close to avenues that provide paths for art, education, sports, or just plain fun events. The project is financially sustainable with excellent growth potential and will be a true asset to central Arkansas through the attraction of state, national and international travelers. Word has sped faster than imagined through an unbelievable network: that of the hosteller or one that uses the concept of hostelling. We presently get calls weekly to stay there from all over and we are not even open yet.
Hostelling Arkansas’ role is to renovate the building and set it up for use as a hostel. Being debt free upon opening is one of the goals set by its Board of Directors. Having the architect's plans and estimates in hand, the cost to renovate, will be right at $400,000. We are presently at a quarter of our goal in raising funds and once reached the estimated time of renovation is six months. Upon opening it will provide lodging as a 30-bed international hostel. The Firehouse Hostel and Museum will join the ranks of the historic buildings around the world having this designation.
Need to know more about hostelling? Go to the web: http://www.hiusa.org/hostels/what-hostels.shtml or just type in hostel in a search engine and learn what we are trying to bring to Little Rock and Central Arkansas.