Date: January 4, 2024 | Story: Stephanie Maxwell Newton | Art Direction: Bailey Dougan |
Low’s Bridal: Also known as The Rusher Hotel and The Great Southern Hotel
Every year, more than 3,000 brides-to-be descend upon Low’s Bridal in Brinkley, Arkansas, to pick out the dress they’ll wear on their big day. Now a city with a population of 2,700, it might seem surprising that this is the setting of the 25,000-square-foot store that has become a mecca for boutique bridal looks. However, given the history of the building—and the city—it’s not quite a mystery how this came to be.
The three-story, Spanish Colonial Revival-style brick building at 127 West Cedar Street was originally constructed in 1915 as The Rusher Hotel. Dorcas Prince, owner of Low’s Bridal, says her mother remembers the hotel as “the place where everyone went for lunch on Sunday after church.” “It had 61 hotel rooms and electricity, which for that era was huge,” she adds. At the time, seven railroad lines criss-crossed through Brinkley, making it a bustling hub for commerce and travelers. That pace slowed when the interstate system was built in the 1970s.
During this time, Dorcas’s mother had operated Low’s Bridal out of a space above the pharmacy on nearby Main Street. When the old hotel came up for sale in 1981, Dorcas and her husband, Stan, bought it and turned it into a bed-and-breakfast and restaurant called The Great Southern Hotel. After a tornado caused severe damage to the building, the Princes purchased Low’s from Dorcas’s parents and decided it was time to move the ever-growing bridal store to the building. Here, the specialty shop has grown to the operation it is today, drawing young women from near and far to choose the perfect gown. “The building has worked out wonderfully for the bridal shop,” Dorcas says. “The beautiful architecture just adds to the experience of looking for a dress in a beautiful setting.”