History Record View

Title: In Retrospect
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Attachment Type: image

A wave of interest is aroused again regarding Mudlavia Springs in Warren County. This is a periodic phenomenon. It is likely that the subject of Mudlavia and it's associated acitivities has been discussed in the columns of this paper more times than any other through the years. From once a busily populated health spa to a near ghost town, Mudlavia's legend survived the ravages of fire and evolution. For some rather mysterious reason, the romance of this huge and luxuriant Mudlavia Hotel of mud bath famed continues to create intense interest in each new generation, through the magnificent structure has been gone since March 1, 1920, when fire destroyed the $350,000 investment. Together the sanitarium and grounds were valued at $1,500,000 when the fire struck, a vast sum in 1920.

For most people expressing an interest today in the hustling bustling Mudlavia, information must come through story-telling and history. The living testimonials to the famed resort are a bit scarce now, but there are some yet around who have vivid recollections of the splendid hotel which nestled among the misty hills along Pine Creek at Kramer in Liberty Township.

An article recently appeared in a question-answer column of a Chicago newspaper regarding the original Mudlavia Hotel. A question was aked by W. H. of Waukegan, Ill., as follows.

"Enclosed is a copy of a 1903 letter from my grandfather written to my dad, touting a mudhole in Indiana with fancy stationery and curative claims. Was the old gent being taken for a ride or was there really such a curative sink called Mudlavia?"

In a detailed reply the paper answered W.H. in the affirmative. It listed as a part of the 250-room facility, the passenger elevator telephone and telegraph service, electric lights, and 9-hole golf course, bath house and the 400-acre farm which furnished most of the food.

The paper even checked with the Athritis Council in New York on the possible effectiveness of the mud treatments. An authority stated that mudbaths were widly used then for treating arthritis and rheumatism especially in Europe. They were effective in that they provided temporary relief by holding body heat in, thus relieving aches and pains.

After the fire ended the largest and most successful endeavor of Warren County's history, the project was abandoned for eight years. The financial depression of the late 20's showed the plans of the Indiana Springs Company, led by Harry L. Kramer, to rebuild a bigger and better resort at the site. During the six year period a beautiful rambling building arose from the ashes of the old. It opened to the public in 1934, never to recapture the glories of the original hostelry and spa. The second hotel was plagued by fire and financial reverses, changing ownerships a number of times until its last bout with fire in 1974, which destroyed a portion of the structure and led to its final closing.

In the same era of the first Mudlavia Hotel, there was built a massive structure called Hunter Springs Hotel, a half mile or so to the west, on the Lover's Leap Road. This hotel also catered to the mud bath traffic, which came from all parts of the world, and housed overflow guest of Mudlavia Hotel.

Hunter Springs Hotel (or Hunter House) as pictured here, shows one of the hacks (far right) used to meet the prospective patrons at all trains arriving in Williamsport and Attica. At that time there were eight day time trains stopping in both towns and the hacks of these two Kramer hotels met them all. It was exciting to see the hack drivers barking and handing out literature to entice the travelers to their hotel. Competition was keen between the two. A Dr. Dinsmore operated Hunter House then and he lived about halfway up the hill between the the two hotels. His house was once the home of Dollie Brant and her family. Dollie resides in Williamsport and has a vivid recollection of Mudlavia hey days. She provided information and picture for this story which appeared in The Review Republican on Aug. 6, 1970.

Arson was suspected when the Hunter House burned and it was never rebuilt.

Nevertheless, like Mudlavia Hotel, a fascination mistique surrounds the story of the Hunter Springs Hotel, and the public never tires of tales told about these Warren County landmarks, absent though they've been for many years.

Date: 10/5/1975
Origin: Unknown
Record ID: 00001570
Type: Periodical
Source Archive: Warren County Historical Society
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Collection: Hunter House
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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