Firehouse turned into hostel

Sunday, January 8, 2006

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A firehouse in Little Rock that closed down in 1960 is being turned into a hostel geared to international travelers.

The city approved leasing the old fire station near MacArthur Park and the city's downtown area to Arkansas Hostelling Inc., a nonprofit group formed by John and Linda Fordyce.

"Our idea was that another thing that makes Little Rock attractive is if we attract international travelers who may not be on a large budget," John Fordyce told the Little Rock Board of Directors, which approved the change earlier this month. "Little Rock is ideally located for a hostel because there's nothing nearby to compete with it."

According to Hostelling International, the closest large hostels to Little Rock are in Dallas and Memphis.

The firehouse opened in 1917 and closed more than four decades later. The new lodge will be called Firehouse Hostel. Eventually, it will feature artifacts and memorials dedicated to the city's firefighters.

City Manager Bruce Moore says that, if all goes as planned, renovation work will begin soon and the building could be usable by the end of 2006.

The old fire station closed when a newer station opened nearby.

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