The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had said a decision on whether to demolish or keep the Monte Ne tower would be made by the end of January, but Mike Richards, deputy operations manager of Beaver Lake, told the Northwest Arkansas Times (http://bit.ly/wWwnTm) that no decision will be made until after the site has been documented and a study regarding preservation or demolition is completed.
A two-person team from the Center of Expertise for the Preservation of Historic Buildings and Structures, part of the corps, is scheduled to visit the historical site either next month or in March.
The center recommends whether historical structures on corps property should be preserved or destroyed, said Lauren McCroskey, program manager of the center.
“We will document the 5-acre site with photographs and field notes as the first step. Our report will likely be complete by early summer. At that time we will offer an opinion on preservation or demolition,” McCroskey said.
Businessman and political figure William Harvey built the Monte Ne in 1900 on 300 acres. It had the state’s first indoor swimming pool in 1901, one of the state’s first bowling alleys and Northwest Arkansas’ first golf course, historians have said. The resort thrived until the advent of the automobile, which encouraged travel.
The community was one of the most visited resort towns in Arkansas between 1900 and 1920, said Allyn Lord, director of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. Lord wrote a book on Monte Ne, the majority of which was flooded when the corps finished Beaver Lake in 1965.
The three-story tower was part of a 1910 hotel called Oklahoma Row, and is one of two physical structures from the resort remaining above ground or water. The chimney from another hotel also is intact, officials have said.
Gaye Bland, director of the Rogers Historical Museum, said she hopes the tower can be spared.
“The Corps of Engineers has the money to demolish or preserve the Monte Ne tower, but it may take the formation of a nonprofit organization to work with the corps on preservation of the site,” she said. “No one group has stepped forward to say it will take on the project.”
The Historical Alliance of Arkansas, the Benton County Historical Commission, the Arkansas Archaeology Survey, the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce and the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, have expressed a desire to preserve what remains of the resort, she said.
The corps has estimated it will take $240,000 to preserve the site or $125,000 to demolish the tower. Officials have said they would like to find partners to help defray preservation costs and improve the grounds, which has become a place for illicit activities.
Lord said the masonry has to be cleaned up and the graffiti on the structure has to be removed. The tower also must be sealed so no one can enter; interpretive signs and walking trails need to be built and the backside of the tower needs to be stabilized, she said.
If the site is preserved, trails are built and the Monte Ne marketed, it could be a tourist attraction, Lord said.
“It might be something visitors to Crystal Bridges would want to add to their ‘to do’ list while they are here,” Lord said, referring to the art museum in nearby Bentonville.
For some great pictures of Monte Ne before the lake was flooded visit Monte Ne.