Bedford Alum Springs Hotel
The original Bedford Alum Springs Hotel was constructed in the 1870s. The building which stands on the property today was constructed in 1913 and is the third hotel on the site. The two previous structures were both destroyed in fires. Designed to appeal to travelers seeking the health benefits of the nearby alum mineral springs, it provided the impetus for a brief revival of the town of New London in the 19th century. At the time the town was briefly renamed Bedford Springs to capitalize on the popularity of the resort. For the last 70 years or so, the building served as a private residence, until Liberty University purchased the property in the summer of 2018. Plans for archaeological investigation and restoration are in progress. Evidence points to the likelihood that a Revolutionary War arsenal was located on the site.
Backstory and Context
Another prominent local figure Samuel Miller, eventually acquired this property from his mother in 1817. Miller and his mother also operated the Roland Academy school for girls out of the Mead's Tavern property down the road. A Ralph Smith owned the property briefly and then Peregrine Echols purchased the plot of land. Echols operated a tavern on the property. He was also the first to utilize the nearby natural springs as an attraction for guests. Echols bottled and sold the spring water and began to use his tavern as a place of lodging, referring to the building as the Bedford Alum Springs Hotel.
The building which stands today is not the original tavern. The original property was destroyed in a fire in 1871. John Maben, who purchased the property in 1877 after this fire, built a new hotel on the same site. This new hotel also burned to the ground in 1887, making the building which stands today the third version of the hotel constructed on the property.
The Bedford Alum Springs Hotel was used as a private residence for about seventy years. In the summer of 2018 Liberty University purchased the hotel and the property. The school plans to utilize the site as an opportunity for hands-on learning and to conduct historical investigation and restoration at the site.
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