Mr. Van Lyell and his wife, Frances, formerly of the Ziegfield Follies, moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas from New York in 1927. Upon their arrival he purchased the Coca-Cola franchise in Hot Springs. At the time, a franchise area was established by how far a horse -drawn wagon full of cola could be drawn in one direction and come back in one day. This turned out to be a ten-mile diameter.
By 1929 Mr. Lyell had acquired vast holdings of property in Hot Springs. At the time Carpenter Dam was being built Mr. Lyell decided to build an estate fashioned after a Mediterranean Villa on the soon to be created Lake Hamilton. As the house rose and Carpenter Dam began to hold back water the hill on which the home was being built quickly became a three-acre pennisula. He used the house as a lake getaway for business, personal recreation, and entertaining. It is rumored that even gangsters visited the home.
The house remained in the family until 1971 when Dr. William Smith and his wife Jacquelin purchased the home and named it Hamilton House. It served as a fine dining establishment until September 2003 when it closed its doors. The home was then restored back to its original decor and is now a bed and breakfast and common wedding location.
Located in an area dominated by modern condominiums, the Van Lyell house survives as one of the few historic homes in its general area of Lake Hamilton. This unique property is a vital link to the history of Hot Springs as the first home constructed on Lake Hamilton.