This week I’m posting the contents of an ad that appeared in the June 14, 1888 edition of Atlanta’s Constitution newspaper along with some pictures of what some termed “the Saratoga of the South”. I’m posting some pictures I’ve received from various sources regarding the hotel and springs.It was an amazing place.
Sweetwater Park Hotel is now open for summer guests and has been since June 1st. Undoubtedly this is one of the finest hotels in the southern states. Everything the heart can desire can be found there. E.W. Marsh & Company, the proprietors, have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fixing up this grand hotel and chautauqua grounds at Lithia Springs and have made it the summum bonum of summer resorts.
The Chautauqua grounds covered a few acres adjoining the Sweetwater Park Hotel property. I've written about the Piedmont Chautauqua here and here.
Three or four years ago there was nothing at Lithia Springs except the springs. The ground was rugged, the fields barren: today the springs have been beautified, lakes have been built, avenues opened, parks made, making it one of the most beautiful pictures imaginable. The trees have grown to give a heavy deep shade. One is delighted with the cool breezes which invariably come from the southwest.
Hmmm....well, there WAS something at Lithia Springs before the hotel and water company...and the Piedmont Chautauqua. The land was owned by Judge Bowden, and it was all part of his plantation. It was heavily farmed until he leased the springs and sold the land where the hotel was located to E.W. Marsh. I've written about Judge Bowden here.
The Constitution ad continues....
"The Sweetwater Park, as a hotel," said a gentleman yesterday, "has no equal in Georgia. The fare to be obtained there is all that money and time can produce. Every vegetable grown, every luxury obtained may be found upon the tables. There is nothing too good for the proprietors to serve their guests with. This fact has done a great deal to advertise the hotel and hundreds of people are coming from New Orleans, Montgomery, Mobile, Galveston, Birmingham, and other southern cities to spend the season at this famous hotel. I have been boarding at Sweetwater Park for over a month, and know that it is the most delightful summer resort I have ever visited. My wife is greatly improved in health, and I feel like a young man again."
It was at the bath house (pictured above) where folks could bathe in the medicinal waters at any temperature they desired.
The ad continues:
This is the expression of everyone who has been a guest of this famous hostelry. Major Rider, of the Georgia Pacific railroad has arranged four schedules a day from Atlanta to Lithia Springs. The train runs as follows:
Leave Atlanta at 9:00 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 5:40 p.m. and 10:10 p.m.
Returning to Atlanta, leaving Lithia Springs at 5:29 a.m., 7:40 a.m., 11:25 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
This is a perfect schedule and suits the people of Atlanta and those passing through Mr. Rider says he will see that these schedules are run to the minute. No road running Atlanta is better managed and has a more perfect system of schedules than the Georgia Pacific. For months its trains have been arriving and departing on the minute and no complaint can be made whatever as to schedules. The road furnished reduced fare for round trip. The trip is made in exactly forty minutes.
Having the cooperation of the Georgia Pacific was very important to the Sweetwater Park Hotel. They depended on folks who came to stay at the hotel, but much of their business came from folks who came out to Lithia Springs for the day on the weekends or for the businessman who could work in the city and join his vacationing family each night and get to the office the next morning.
Folks visiting the hotel or the Chautauqua grounds would reach the depot at Lithia Springs and then get on the dummy line which was a spur railroad that took visitors to the hotel. The dummy line train was dubbed "The Anna" and was named for the wife of James Watson.
The ad continued:
If you were to ask what were the attractions at Lithia Springs for summer guests it could be stated that there were many. In the first place, it is a quiet cool place. It is beautiful with lovely shade trees, placid lakes and flower gardens.
The picture below is the rose mound on the chautauqua grounds where band concerts were often presented.
The picture below is the lake on the chautauqua grounds.
The ad continues:
The hotel is as perfect as money can make it. The fare is all that can be described.
The ad continues:
The drives are wild and beautiful. The conveniences to Atlanta are many. The rates for accommodation are extremely low when compared with what hotels of this character usually charge. It will be remembered that the guests at Sweetwater Park Hotel have free access to the Lithia Springs mineral water.
I've been conducting lots of research regarding the hotel and the Piedmont Chautauqua and have a few more tidbits of history to bring you in the near future regarding the goings on at the Springs....
Thanks for staying tuned.
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