It is hard to imagine that the resplendent area we now know as the County of Bath was once the edge of the frontier. Yes, George Washington really did “sleep” here while as a young surveyor he traveled across the landscape that we now call Bath County. Indian raids were not uncommon, and there are stories of captives taken by local Indian tribes. Several markers along the scenic roads identify early Forts where local settlers sought shelter and protection from the wilderness.
The County of Bath was established December 14, 1790 from sections of Augusta, Botetourt and Greenbrier counties. And it was at this time that Warm Springs was designated the County seat and the first courthouse (1796) and jail (1792) were erected on the site of what is now the Warm Springs Inn. The facility was rebuilt (1841-42) and included a new court house and jail made of brick. The facility was also home to the sheriff. Court was held here and prisoners served time or were hanged on site depending upon the severity of the crime and the sentencing.
The building served as the County seat of government for sixty-six years—even surviving occupation by Northern troops during the War Between the States. However, the location of the jail and courthouse, directly across the road from the then well-established Warm Springs Hotel and the Warm Springs Pools (now known as the Jefferson Pools) was not ideal for the burgeoning tourist trade who came to enjoy the medicinal and social experience of summering in the mountains. Rowdy court days, hangings and general misbehavior, prompted local citizens to demand the courthouse and jail be moved and in August of 1906 the court demanded the Board of Supervisors build a new facility in a different part of Warm Springs. Today the Bath County Court House and Sheriff’s office are found just down the road a mile or two from this original location.
The move of the County seat deeper into Warm Springs left an aging building in a great location. Built on a high hill adjacent to the old turnpike road (now route 39) you had to pass right by the buildings to enter into the villages of Warm Springs and Hot Springs. Enter Charles Rogers, who purchased the aging original courthouse and jail with the dream of converting the property into a successful hotel. Rodgers first renovated the old jail building. He removed the bars from the windows, refinished the floors and added nice furnishings. His renovation of the courthouse was very costly due in part to the fact that he added a second floor to increase the number of guest rooms. He opened the hotel using the name Maple Court Hotel in honor of the beautiful maples that lined the lawns. After enjoying initial modest success, Rogers went bankrupt and the Inn was ironically sold at auction on the steps of the new courthouse in downtown Warm Springs. In 1928, the Inn was purchased by Orvis E. Dunham who operated it as the Warm Springs Inn. It was later purchased in 1947 by Edmond and Juliette Routier who further developed the property. Bob and Carol Routier ran the inn for 13 years until 1990 when winds blew the roof off the main building. The Routier’s sold the Inn to Ruth and Peter Worthy in 1991 who sold the property to their son Peter and his wife Trish in 2011.
Recently The Inn at Warm Springs has opened under new management. Owner Jarek Mika has re-imagined the charming, country Inn of years past. Rooms are individually decorated and designed. No two rooms are furnished in the same way. All are freshly painted and the beds have new linens and coverlets.
Yes, one or two of the floorboards may creak just a little or a door may be misaligned. But remember those rooms were built in 1842 and were not originally built with doors, they were built with bars! We are pretty sure that it is those little quirks that will help to make your stay at the Warm Springs Inn both unique and memorable.