Pontiac Coffee House: End of an era

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 334 views 

SPRINGDALE — Nancy Charlesworth Hagen, her sister Susan Whitehouse and their mom Donna Charlesworth were among a handful of folks looking on Tuesday morning (April 10) as a piece of their family history crumbled to dust to make way for a new hospital expansion.

The Charlesworths owned and operated the Pontiac dealership in downtown Springdale from 1948 to 1984 and since that time the historic building has served as a coffee house and entertainment venue, that was until the hospital purchased it last October.

“It’s been a 20-year effort to buy this property from the family,” said Dan McKay, CEO of Northwest Health System.

He said it was the only obstacle left to the hospital’s needed expansion — which includes an expanded Emergency Room and new entrance facing Thompson Street.

“It’s a bittersweet day for us, but we know the hospital needed the space. My farther-in-law sold the first piece of land here for the original hospital in the late 1940s. We sold them some more land in the 1970s, and more in 1990s, we sold it because we wanted to keep the hospital here in town,” Donna Charlesworth said.

Nancy Hagan owns and operates the Pontiac Coffee House on the adjacent corner, a building it shares with Jim’s Razorback Pizza. She said the hospital owns that building too, but has opted to leave it.

Hagan says she is living her dream of operating a coffee house that displays the Pontiac name and signage from her father’s dealership — a notion she concocted 20 years ago when she was a patient at the hospital.

It took two bulldozers about 30 minutes to level the buildings that had stood since 1948. But the Charlesworth family took home a brick from the foundation and a slew of memories that can never be sold.

Granite from the face of the building was removed and given to the historical museum so that it can be used as stepping stones at the new trailhead downtown along the Razorback Greenway, that is slated for completion in 2013.

Northwest Health Springdale plans to break ground on the new emergency room in two weeks once the rubble is cleared away.

“We are anxious to get the new space because we are seeing 35,000 patients a year in a space designed for 20,000. In keeping with our 15-to 30-minute pledge for being seen in the ER we really do need the added beds,” said Patricia Driscoll, spokeswomen for the hospital.