The Monte Ne historical site in Benton County, built around 1900, was originally a hotel called “Oklahoma Row.” William Coin Harvey, a well known politician and lecturer, built and operated Monte Ne as a popular health resort until the ’30′s.
What’s left now is mostly ruins, except for the “tower section” of the crumbling old hotel.
This time last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put a locked fence around the area to help prevent crime in hopes of one day restoring the site.
As lake levels continually drop, more of the Monte Ne area is revealed including the amphitheater, which can only be seen when Beaver Lake is at its lowest.
Park Ranger Alan Bland said the lake needs to drop another 8 feet for the amphitheater to be fully visible.
“Right now, there’s really nothing to see except this three-story structure,” said Bland.
Bland does not expect the lake levels to drop enough to fully expose the amphitheater; but, lake levels are low enough to cause problems for boaters.
“There’s a lot of chunk rocks, a lot of concrete, some of the old foundation from some other buildings out here are starting to get exposed,” said Bland. “So, if you are a boater, you want to be really careful. There’s some stuff out here that you haven’t seen in a while because the lake has not been this low since 2006.”
As the old Monte Ne resort sits vacant, the question is: Should it be restored, demolished or left alone?
Organizers are trying to raise $10,000 for a feasibility study.
The study will allow experts to examine the Monte Ne area and decide one of two things:
“Is there enough interest in Northwest Arkansas to preserve the structure because it’s on the national [historic] register or, if there’s not enough interest, and there’s not enough money, then another option is to eventually tear it down.”
Bland thinks most people will want to preserve the site.
Don Thornhill has lived near Monte Ne for nearly six decades.
“I think it’s good for the community, I think it would be a tourist attraction,” Thornhill said. “We have Crystal Bridges [art museum] now so, more people are coming into the area. I think it would be an attraction if it were kept up.”
Ranger Bland said preserving the old Monte Ne resort will cost about $300,000, while demolishing it would run just under $200,000.
He hopes the decision will be made by the end of the year.