At ‘This Place in History,’ we’re in Clarendon Springs with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.
“We are talking about that building [behind us] and we are talking about mineral springs and the therapeutic value that they had to people. So there are a lot of springs in Vermont. You’ve probably heard of Middletown Springs and Clarendon Springs. And you’ve probably heard of Saratoga Springs in New York, all named after the water bubbling out of the ground,” began Perkins.
“So there was a very interesting medical theory in the 19th Century that the idea of mineral water was therapeutic, and if you drank it or bathed in it, or you did all sorts of other stuff with this water, that it would cure all of your ills. And so anywhere where these beautiful springs came bubbling out of the ground, hotels and spas, as we know them today, started to grow up.”
“The hotel wrote in its literature that it was discovered in 1776. A guy named Asa Smith had a dream that there were therapeutic waters in the west side of Clarendon, the town. So he went off searching for it. He found these waters, drank of them and they cured all the problems that he had. It wasn’t until 1827 that the first hotel was built on this site, and it grew from there into the hotel we see behind us,” explained Perkins.
“Really, it hit its heyday right before the American Civil War where wealthy travelers from all over the U.S., and especially the South, would take the trains up to West Rutland. A livery service would go down and meet them and bring them up to this hotel, and all of the cottages, and they could spend a whole week here being pampered, bathing in and drinking the great water.”
“They would take walks. They would go fishing, horseback riding, all sorts of calisthenics and different types of exercises that were meant to get the blood moving and get the bad humors out of your body; a lot of the same stuff that we would do in the spa today, except this was really considered medicine at the time,” continued Perkins.
“The building at one point held 200 guests, and then in addition, cottages held more around the space. It stayed in operation until the early 1900s before it finally went out of business. We’re not really near any major transportation hub at this point. Spas like this and springs started to go down after the American Civil War, or really during the Civil War, because most of the travelers who came and spend a lot of money up here were from the South.”
“After the Civil War, folks moved on to different types of travel and these grand spring resorts started to go into disrepair. Saratoga Springs really kind of stayed and we still know about them today as a great resort town, but who has heard of Clarendon Springs as a great resort town? So early 1900s, I think 1907 or so, is when the resort finally folded,” concluded Perkins.
“It’s privately-owned [today] and has been for many years, and preserved as it is. But the owner is looking to sell it. So if you want to own a spa resort in Clarendon Springs, there you have it.”
At ‘This Place in History’!
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