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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • NORTH TUSCANY COAST, 1948

Fountain House: 1899

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Fountain House: 1899

Macomb County, Michigan, circa 1899. "Fountain House, Mount Clemens." Bath houses and mineral springs were the draw in this 19th-century spa town. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Spa Town Doppelganger

The architecture of this hotel reminds me very much of the former Orkney Springs Hotel in Orkney Springs, Virginia in the Shenandoah mountains. The hotel was built starting in the 1850s, and is said to have served as a temporary hospital during the Civil War. Orkney Springs was a fashionable summer resort from the late 19th century to the 1920s, with seven purportedly healing springs.

The former hotel, which is the largest wooden structure in Virginia, was bought by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in 1979, and is now part of the diocesan retreat center Shrine Mont. I went to six years of summer camp at Shrine Mont, and a favorite prank to play on first-year campers was to tell them that the red waters of the chalybeate (iron-bearing) spring tasted like Kool-Aid (they tasted like licking an iron pipe, of course!).

Three "ghosts"

I see the girl behind the tree in front of the house to the left, and the man waking on the sidewalk on the right. Those can be explained by lens and timeing, but how in the world did that lady get to sit sidesaddle up on top of that telephone pole in that huge tree?

In the tree

I don't see the ghost that is hiding, but if you look up into the middle of the tree you see wires. One of them looks like it has snapped and coiled.

Let's go Bathers!

Mt. Clemens' days as a bathing resort may be long over, but there is still one notable remnant of that era in the town's history. The Mt. Clemens High School Battling Bathers!

Ghosts!

I see two! One is obvious, the other one's hiding.

You can still get a room

But in decidedly less swanky surroundings.
More information about Mount Clemens and this particular Bath House/ Hotel may be found here.

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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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