10. The Country Inn at Berkeley Springs
The Country Inn at Berkeley Springs, bordering the park and springs, occupies the historic center of hospitality. An empty lot south of its parking area and transversed by Warm Springs Run was purchased in 1777 by Robert Throgmorton who located his lodging house here. Known as the Sign of the Liberty Pole and Flag, it housed George Washington in September 1784. There, the nation's most famous man met Throgmorton's partner, inventor and sawmill owner, James Rumsey who demonstrated his mechanical boat to Washington. An antebellum residence on this structure was razed in 1983. At that time it housed the House of Musical Traditions, seed for the prominent Berkeley Springs arts community.
One of the ten lots occupied by Inn and Spa was owned by James Smith, Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Pennsylvania; another by General Horatio Gates who witnessed Rumsey’s successful public steamboat trial in Shepherdstown in 1787.
Prior to 1846, Colonel John Strother of Martinsburg bought about half the lots and built his Pavilion Hotel. He sold half of it to his son David Hunter Strother in 1855 and began calling it the Berkeley Springs Hotel. It was a 500-room resort facing onto the park. In 1848, President James K. Polk stayed at the newly completed hotel which he found to his liking until he discovered that Strother was an ardent Whig and opponent of Polk's Democratic Party. When Confederate General Stonewall Jackson spent two days in January 1862 shelling Hancock, Maryland, he quartered his men and horses in the grand hotel; both Strothers were well-known Union supporters. Upon the father’s death in 1865, son David Hunter Strother, noted writer, illustrator and Union Adjutant General, assumed complete ownership and operation of the hotel.
The Berkeley Springs Hotel continued as a mainstay of the resort town, famous for its dress balls and band music, until March 1898 when it burned. Only the machine shop and outbuildings survived. In 1906 and ‘07, there was a merry-go-round on the empty grounds and from 1928 to ‘31 it was used as a tourist campground. After three decades of rumors and false starts by various investors, the local Harmison family built the current center section in 1933 and moved their Park View Inn from its original site across Washington Street. It became so popular, two wings were added in 1937. Jack and Adele Barker bought it in 1972 and named it The Country Inn. During the 1980s a dining room, spa, and new rooms in a separate building were added. The facility changed hands again in 2003 and is now a member of the Historic Hotels of America under the name Inn and Spa at Berkeley Springs.
The tiny lodging place known as Bath Cottage, south of the Inn, was built in the 1990s on the foundation of the cabin where 19th century bathkeeper, John Davis, was born and lived.
Behind the Inn are two lots that once held prominent 19th century cottages demolished by town order in 1937. By tradition, cottages were named. These were Woodside and Ellen Gowan.
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