“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Berkeley Springs in Morgan County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)

Berkeley Springs State Park

Washington Heritage Trail

Berkeley Springs State Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, May 12, 2018
1. Berkeley Springs State Park Marker
Inscription. Today's 4.5-acre Berkeley Springs State Park has always been public ground. Native tribes were known to use the springs but none called it home. Colonial owner Thomas Lord Fairfax allowed its public use. When the town was established in 1776, the area directly around the springs was retained for public use, called Bath Square and administered by Trustees.

During the 19th century, the public area was called the Grove thanks to an abundance of large oaks that framed the Promenade where visitors strolled along the springs. Under direct control of the state for most of the 20th century, it became Berkeley Springs State Park in 1970 and was later listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The buildings and monuments reflect both the eternal purpose of the area — "taking the waters" — and the changing fashion of meeting that purpose over the centuries.

Warm Springs Run is a mountain stream that joins with springs overflow under Fairfax Street and eventually wends its way north through town to the Potomac River.

After 1784 a Gentlemen's Bath House was built on the site of today's Roman Baths. Local legend attributes its design to steamboat inventor James Rumsey. The present two-story brick structure was constructed about 1815. Original colors of yellow, cream and green are now
Berkeley Springs State Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, May 12, 2018
2. Berkeley Springs State Park Marker
used throughout the park. Since 1984, the Museum of Berkeley Springs has been located on the second floor.

The Gentlemen's Spring House on pillars over the main drinking spring could date to 1816. An 1853 account describes today's structure exactly. There has been a public drinking spring or fountain in this location since 1787. The water has always been free to the public, a right enshrined by the Virginia Legislature in the 1776 law establishing a town at the springs.

Several springs are sourced in the area south of the drinking spring, filling stone pools and a spillway—the largest public display of water among all the springs that line the Blue Ridge.

The public swimming pool was built in 1951 on the site that held covered bathing pools in the previous two centuries. The Victorian pool building demolished in 1948 was a single 150-foot-long structure designed and built by Henry Harrison Hunter in 1887 while he was Park Superintendent. It was divided into two pools, one for each gender.

George Washington's Bathtub is a modern stone reconstruction of the primitive conditions prior to 1784 where early bathers including Washington and hundreds of other summer visitors, soaked in springs-filled pools hollowed out from the natural terrain of the sandy hillside. The spring enclosed here has the highest elevation of any in the park.

Lord Fairfax's spring is hugged by rocks as it empties into the southernmost pool. Up to the 1850s there was a rough shanty over it, allegedly built by Fairfax who always reserved a spring for his own use. This spring provided water to the succession of covered bath houses and now to the outdoor pool.

The yellow brick Main Bathhouse at the south end of the park was built in 1929 on land added after the Berkeley Hotel burned in 1898. Massages have been given here since at least 1932.

The gazebo on the eastern side of the run was dedicated in 1931.

Converted to rest rooms and an office in 1930, the small brick building was once frame and described in 1787 as a Poor People's Bath. The original structure was attributed to James Rumsey.

We this day call d to see y. Fam d Warm Springs. We camped out in y. field this night.
George Washington's Diary, March 18, 1748
Erected by Travel Berkeley Springs.
Location. 39° 37.594′ N, 78° 13.723′ W. Marker is in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, in Morgan County. Marker is on South Washington Street (U.S. 522) north of Liberty Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. On the grounds of Berkeley Springs State Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2 South Washington Street, Berkeley Springs WV 25411, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Centennial Time Capsule (within shouting distance of this marker); Henry Whiting, Angus McDonald, Jane and Katherine Dalton, Angust McDonald (within shouting distance of this marker); Bryan Fairfax, Thomas Bryan Martin, & George William Fairfax (within shouting distance of this marker); Berkeley Springs Baths (within shouting distance of this marker); Berkeley Springs Sanitarium (within shouting distance of this marker); Morgan County Court House Stone (within shouting distance of this marker); Thomas Lawson and John Orr (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); William Herbert / Dr. John Meade Travers (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Berkeley Springs.
Categories. Charity & Public WorkColonial EraNative Americans
Credits. This page was last revised on May 14, 2018. This page originally submitted on May 12, 2018, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 162 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on May 12, 2018, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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