HARRISON, Ark. - Harrison’s past includes being the final stop on the way to fame for bandit Henry Star. During his 32 years as a criminal, Star robbed more banks than both the James-Younger Gang and the Doolin-Dalton Gang combined. For his last heist in 1921, he traveled to a bank on the square in Harrison by car. A bullet in the back ended his career and his life.
Eight years after his death, and within sight of the old bank where he was shot (and fast on the heels of an epic stock market crash), construction of the 35,000-square-foot Hotel Seville was completed. The building became the ornate centerpiece of Harrison. The cost of building the structure in 1929 reached $150,000 with furniture costing another $20,000, a tremendous amount back in the good old days.
Of course, the old hotel did not have modern amenities such as air conditioning and Internet access. So when developers came in to modernize the venerable hotel, they looked for ways to provide these modern comforts without losing its old-world charm - a necessity if they wanted to get the hotel listed as a registered landmark with the National Historical Society. This was accomplished with ductless mini-splits.
NEW A/C AMID OLD-WORLD CHARMThe 30 mini-split, multi-zone heat pumps, with condensing units that serve two-to four-evaporator units (including seven ceiling-mounted cassette units), now meet the indoor comfort needs of the entire building, including all public spaces and private guest rooms.
“The key challenge, and what led to our initial research into split-system technology, was the great difficulty and expense of installing a central HVAC system,” said Don Alberson, part owner of the hotel. “The old structure had many spaces that just weren’t suitable to duct runs and trunk lines. Then we looked at overall system efficiency, and at that point the mini-splits - which offered not only super-high efficiency, but the greatest level of control and zoneability - sold themselves.”
“The only challenge, if you could call it that, was the need to get all of the refrigerant lines between the air handlers and roof-mounted condensing units within the maximum allowable distance and rise,” said Bobby Deaton, owner of Island Airco, who subbed out much of the installation work to Philip Curtis of Curtis Heating & Cooling. “But Chad Ellis and Cash Curtis, the key installers, could work with the 82-foot line set allowance we had between units, and made all the connections successfully.”
The Fujitsu systems were sourced through manufacturer’s rep Bill Riddell and Robert Crow, branch manager of Sanders Supply.
“The Halcyon multi-zone heat pump line gave us 110 component combinations to achieve mix-and-match flexibility,” said Curtis. “We wanted the R-410A inverter units, but also the highest efficiency systems we could get. The multi-zones we installed offered efficiency ratings of up to 16.5 SEER and 9 HSPF. We could select either 24,000- or 36,000-Btu outdoor units, combined with 9,000-, 12,000-, or 18,000-Btu wall-mounted or concealed ceiling indoor units - a variety that worked well for every need within the hotel.”
HISTORIC HOTELBack in the day, the old hotel had plenty of amenities and gracious living to spare. According to an article dated Sept. 24, 1929, “On the first floor is a spacious lobby, its ceiling reaching in the center to the third floor, circled on the second floor with the balconies of the mezzanine lounge. Here are found the wonderful arches and pillars so characteristic of the architecture of Old Spain, with decorations of parallel lines of opposing colors ... with Arabic inscriptions on wall decorations in gold and rich tints.”
The hotel became the first establishment in Boone County to serve “ice cold water.” Among its notable guests have been the 33rd U.S. President Harry S. Truman and Grand Ole Opry star Minnie Pearl.
Since its early days, the hotel served as the hub of business and social activity in Harrison. But there were years of neglect throughout the decades. Its new owners wanted to return the building to its elegance and grandeur, with amenities in line with modern hotels.
“We knew that eventually we could overcome the many challenges of bringing the hotel back, even making many contemporary improvements,” said Alberson. “What we have now, after many months of renovation, is a four-star hotel with one of the finest eateries in the state. It’s become an oasis for business travelers, the community, and for special events.”
For more information, visit www.fujitsu-air-conditioning.com.