Friday, June 22, 2012

Fun Friday Facts #41: Berkeley Springs Edition


I'm doing this week's Fun Facts in honor of Berkeley Springs, where I am right now, entirely because I was frocking around on Facebook a couple of days ago and I saw that my old schoolmate from Hollins University, Beth, was planning to come and I was all “I wanna come!” so she invited me, and I totally did not invite myself, at all, in any way, nuh-uh.

I wouldn't do that.

I tell you guys what, I totally wish I lived in Berkeley Springs. If I had not just bought a house in Morgantown, I would totally buy one here. In fact, I'm actually tempted to sell my house in Morgantown (that I haven't even moved into yet), and buy one in Berkeley Springs, except I know that towns this cutesy and chock full of spas and boutique shops cost a lot to live in, ie, more than I have.

Besides,  it probably has a seedy redneck underbelly.

I mean, there's a freaking castle here, for f*ck's sake. I know I spent years in Europe and should be totally desensitized to castles by now, but...F*CKING CASTLE, man.

Boom.

But you can't go inside this castle, because SOMEBODY FREAKIN' LIVES IN IT. I mean, yeah, Europeans have a lot of castles, but they don't freakin' live in 'em, do they? F*CK all those Europeans who don't live in castles!

I tried, but I'm only one woman.

It's actually called Samuel Taylor Suit Cottage, because that is a cottage if ever I saw one. I guess if you're rich enough to come to West Virginia and build a freaking castle, it would seem like a cottage to you.

Colonel Samuel Taylor Suit, of Washington, DC, began building the castle in 1885. Because castles aren't something you just throw together in a couple of months, construction continued until the early 1890s. Unfortunately for Colonel Suit, he died in 1888. His widow, Rosa Pelham Suit, took over the construction of the castle, finishing it up with work that is “of noticeably inferior quality” according to Wikipedia.

Apparently, the castle, which SOMEBODY FREAKING LIVES IN, has a 50 by 40 foot (15.2 by 12.2 meter) ballroom, because that's just what every young couple needs. You can see interior pictures of the castle here.

Berkeley Springs is America's first spa city, founded in 1776. It was originally called Bath, after the city of Bath in England. It's still officially called Bath, but everyone calls it Berkeley Springs, even the road signs.

Back in 1802, when the postal system came to West Virginia, there was no West Virginia, only Virginia, since that whole Civil War thing hadn't happened yet. There was already a Bath in Bath County, so they named the second Bath's post office Berkeley Springs after the healing waters themselves, which were so named for their location in Berkeley County, Virginia, which is now defunct.

As it should be.

In its early days, Berkeley Springs/Bath was the go-to luxury resort town for what Wikipedia refers to as the “colonial elite,” including George Washington, his brother Lawrence, who was sickly, and Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, who ruled over his vast New World land grant from his estate at Greenway Court, Virginia. Today, two of the town's main streets are called Washington and Fairfax.

That's what you get for being beautiful.

The Berkeley Springs State Park is the nation's oldest health spa, founded in 1776. Use of the springs for restorative purposes goes back much further, and the area has been a resort since the 1750s. It is the only state-run spa in the country. The water comes out of the springs at 74.3 degrees Fahrenheit (23.5 C) and contains large amounts of sulphates, carbonates and nitrates. The Roman style Bathhouse at the park, which is the oldest public building in town, was built in 1815. It replaced a smaller bathhouse built in 1784. The spa is open daily, which is why I want to move here.

Also, castle.


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