Friday, October 25, 2013

Hot Springs, Va: The Homestead welcomes guests

The Homestead Resort has been housing guests in western Virginia since 1766. Thomas Bullett, Charles and Andrew Lewis were part of the militia and surveyors during the French and Indian War. They were told of the many healing qualities of the waters in the area around present day Hot Springs, Virginia. In 1764, at the end of the war, Captain Bullett received Gold and Silver for his services and received a colonial land grant of 300 acres which contained seven natural mineral springs from Colonel George Washington.

After receiving the land grant, Captain Bullett moved his militia company and their families to the area. Within two years, the land was cleared and an 18-room wooden hotel was completed. In 1766, The Homestead was opened and named in honor of the homesteaders who built the resort and bathhouses. From 1764 till 1778, Colonel Bullett along with his family operated the resort. During the American Revolutionary War, Colonel Bullett died during battle and his family retained ownership of the resort until 1832.

In 1832, Dr. Thomas Goode and his family purchased the resort from the Bullett Family along with the Resort in Warm Springs and Healing Springs. He was a prominent physician and is responsible for the European style of many different spa therapies. One of the most famous treatments still in use is the Cure, which is a salt scrub followed by a Swiss shower. Dr. Goode passed away in 1858 and upon his death, the family took over the ownership until the early 1880s.

M.E. Ingalls, a prominent lawyer from Cincinnati, Ohio came to the area in 1881, while doing research for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company. The railroad was looking to expand the lines into the area when Mr. Ingalls came upon the resort. For almost seven years, Mr. Ingalls, J. P. Morgan, and many other investors came to an agreement to purchase The Homestead and build a spur into the Hot Springs area. Within the first year of ownership, the investors raised over $1 million to build a whole new hotel.

On July 2, 1901, a fire, which started in the pastry shop, burned the entire resort. With the resort not being at full capacity, everyone was able to escape without any serious injury or loss of life. The staff was able to save the Spa, Casino, the cottages in Cottage Row, and the Virginia Hotel.

The day after the fire, Mr. Ingalls, Mr. Decatur Axtell, who was President of the resort, and the many investors met to discuss the resort's future. With the smoke and embers still in the distance and insurance not available, they came to the conclusion to rebuild the resort. Within a year, March 10, 1902, the Great Hall was completed and the Homestead was back in business. Former guests of the resort were returning to the grand hotel they loved. Within two years, the West Wing was added.

In 1911, the Ingalls family acquired the resort. The East Wing was added in 1914, and M.E. Ingalls, Sr. passed away. In 1921, the Empire, Crystal, Garden rooms and Theatre were completed and in 1929, our tower was finished. The last major addition during the Ingalls family ownership was the Garden Wing in 1973.

In 1993 Club Resorts, a part of ClubCorp, acquired The Homestead and began a total restoration. In 2001 The Homestead unveiled a new Grand Ballroom and outdoor pool, along with state-of-the-art snowmaking for the ski area and a new Shooting Club House and Pavilion.

In 2012, "The Next Chapter" was launched with the addition of Allegheny Springs - a new children's play zone, family pool, 400 ft. lazy river and water slides.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
History from
October 24, 2013

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