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Washington County, Illinois

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The Carlsbad Hotel and Springs
Nashville, Washington County, Illinois

Carlsbad Hotel and Springs, Nashville, Illinois
(Pencil sketch by Maryann Bohbrink, 1988)
Washington County Historical Society's
early publication (date unknown) Looking Back
courtesy of Jo House
      At the turn of the century, Washington County was a mecca for those who felt that there was medicinal value in taking hot mineral baths and drinking the mineral water from the springs; in fact, you might say the county was "The Hot Springs" of the midwest.
 
      The county boasted three hotels and bath houses; "The Washington" and "The Original" at Okawville and "The Carlsbad" at Nashville. Of the three only "The Original" is still in operation under the management of Mr. and Mrs. Albert (Abbie) Krohne. A trip to the bath house is a delight, not only for the baths, but for the pre-century decor which has been maintained. The Washington, which was converted to a nursing home for many years, is currently being razed. The Carlsbad, which is our feature story, burned to the ground in 1901.
      The Carlsbad which was situated at the south end of the lake on the home-owned power plant, was a beautiful three story frame building. The building faced north overlooking the lake and the city of Nashville. The spring that fed the hotel and bath house was located to the west of the hotel and derived its name from the famed Carlsbad Springs in Germany. The brick spring house that still stands was later built by K. A. Steinhauser after he purchased the power plant. The water was available to the public free of charge and could be pumped from a small hand pump mounted on a wooden platform on the outside of the building. I can attest to the clear and pure taste of the water for as a child, I pumped a container full each day. Postcard; Ice & Electric Plant, Nashville, Illinois
1914 Postcard photo
Ice & Electric Plant, Nashville, Illinois
      The Carlsbad not only served as a resort, but also as a meeting place for the various organizations to conduct both business and social gatherings. To further inform our readers about the Carlsbad, we quote from several articles from a book of clippings kept by Mary E. Law dated about 1892.
The clippings were from the Nashville Democrat.
 
1892
      The first was written to the Democrat by Miss Elva Mae Whedon of St. Louis, Mo.
 
      "It seems to me that the praises of the Carlsbad Springs and the Hotel have not been half sung, and having been a guest at the place for a short time, I wish to add my praises, both to the beautiful location of the Hotel and the surrounding country and the excellent management of the ladies in charge of this much needed enterprise. The rooms are cool and airy and spotlessly clean, and the bathrooms are perfect in every respect. All guests will testify to the excellent cuisine of the management.
 
      The pretty little city of Nashville nearby, affords a pleasant walk, and some attractions in the way of band concerts and moonlight vocal sextettes are very much in appreciation by the occupants of the hotel veranda. Shadow lake in the park furnishes pleasure and exercise for those who like rowing and the country abounds in lovely walks and drives. Last but not least of these attractions is an occasional member of the "sterner sex" who ventures timidly up the board walk, glances at the imposing building in a frightened manner, then crosses the foot path in the direction of the "power house" and no doubt is soon lost in the mysteries of electricity. Now to all those interested in this work, my wish is that you may succeed beyond all expectations, and rest assured that the writer will always be ready with a good word for your beautiful and healthful resort".
 
1896
      "A brilliant affair? Well, we guess that's no joke either. It was at the Carlsbad - a Leap Year party and ball and was arranged and managed by Nashville's enterprising young ladies, of course, all by themselves for the entertainment of their gentlemen friends.
 
      Leap Year of 1896, that boon of the fair ones, it granted deviation from the formalities of other years and tendered special privileges to the ladies, and those of Nashville did not allow old '96 to rail away without demonstrating to the young men the grand results of the efforts of our city's daughters.
 
      For several days they have been busily engaged arranging for the grand gathering that the cruel calendar of time, cruel to the young men as well as the young ladies, brings. The boys departure from the hotel last evening will not permit a repetition of such an affair for at least 8 yrs.
 
      The girls were not forgetful of the facts that the prided Carlsbad is quite a distance from the central portion of our city and that Nashville is in possession of a bus and carriages, so during the hours of early evening they called for their gentlemen beaux for the notable occasion, promised their Mamas a safe return of their boys early in the year of '97, and departed for the scene of social festivities.
 
      The Carlsbad was in a state of brilliant illumination that night and the electrical rays seemed to beam brighter than ever. (Editor's note: It was during this time that the home-owned power plant furnished dusk to dawn electricity.)
 
      Before 9 o'clock the entire party had gathered, the signal was given the musicians and the dance begun, which was continued until a late night hour and all glided and dined until the chimes of '97 bells announced the presence of the new year that pressed old '96 into history. The sumptuous supper was prepared and served by the young ladies, assisted by Brueckman and Keyler.
 
      That the young ladies did themselves proud was the verdict of all at that hour of departure and the echoes of the songs of praise can probably be heard there yet."
 
1898
      "The Carlsbad, under Mrs. Springer's management, is experiencing a very successful season this year. During the summer the hotel has been crowded with lady guests from St. Louis and all are loud in their praise of the resort and the management of the same. Up to the present day, one hundred forty-one ladies have registered at the "Summer Rest," remaining from one to several weeks. The number of those this year exceeds that of 1897 for the same period by five and last year was considered a prosperous one. The following have registered during the week." : Misses Grace Gasting; Emma Gasting; Nettie Eichel; Margaret Rieder; Nell Ferriter; Henrietta Schulte; Mary Kilgallon; Anna Jacoby; Emma Parboy.
Postcard of Carlsbad Lake, Nashville, Illinois
 
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Nashville Journal
Nashville, Illinois
March 27, 1902
Courtesy of Larry House
THE CARLSBAD IN ASHES
Fire Totally Destroyed the Noted Resort and Contents
Early Sunday Morning
      Fire totally destroyed the Carlsbad Hotel at this city early Sunday morning. All the furniture and contents of the noted resort, with the exception of a few chairs, also met the same fate.
 
      During last week the owners of the hotel had a force at work cleaning up the interior of the building and preparing it for a new coat of paint. The building was heated for this purpose and during the afternoon, Saturday, fire broke out in the building but was discovered by those engaged there and extinguished. The origin of the fire at night is unknown but it is supposed that the fire of the afternoon was not entirely extinguished and smouldering, broke out again Saturday night. The hotel and electric light plant was originally erected by a company of ten men of this city. C. M. Forman, who was a stock holder purchased the other interests and afterward traded it to John Drury, of Jersey County. During this year the property passed into the hands of a company headed by Mr. Foreman and the latter are the present owners. The building was one of the finest hotels in Southern Illinois.
 
      The fire had evidently been burning some time before discovery and the sounding of the fire bell which occurred at about 12:40. Will Green, who had made a business trip south of this city, was probably the first to discover the blaze. When two miles from town his attention was attracted by the fire. He applied the whip to his horses and soon arrived on the scene of the fire. He immediately went to the front door of the building, thinking that some one was asleep there but Willie Forman, who sleeps at the hotel, was at the power house about a hundred yards away. Mr. Green called to the men at the power house and they sounded the whistle. Night-watchman Hiram Rice, whose attention, at this time, had been attracted by the power house whistle, went upon the steps at the Mike Pitts building and seeing the fire, sounding the fire alarm. When the engine and the fire company arrived at the hotel the flames had gained such headway that they could not be checked and the building burnt to the ground. The building and contents were covered by $8000 insurance.
 
      The bath house was erected in 1892 at a cost of $3220. During the next year the Carlsbad hotel was constructed at a cost of $11,500 including pipings and radiators, boiler, etc. The hotel was furnished at a cost of $1500 which makes a total loss of over $16,000. The hotel has been occupied as a summer resort and sanitarium since. During the past few years the building has been occupied, by the Christian Home, as a summer home for young lady employees of St. Louis.
 

© 2015     Wayne Hinton
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