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Historic New London, Virginia
Item 9 of 9
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.

  • Aerial photo from 1956. From Friends of New London Library.
  • Engraving. From the Friends of New London Library.
  • Advertisement for Bedford Springs, 1885. From Jones Memorial Library, Lynchburg, Virginia.
  • Front view of the exterior of the Bedford Alum Springs Hotel (Fall 2018)
  • Interior of the front room (Fall 2018)
  • Main staircase of the Bedford Alum Springs Hotel (Fall 2018)
  • View of the Bedford Alum Springs Hotel approaching from the main walkway (Fall 2018)
  • Front view of the Bedford Alum Springs Hotel (Fall 2018)
The property where the Bedford Alum Springs Hotel sits today was originally owned by Colonel James Callaway. Callaway was a prominent figure in the area around the time of the American Revolution. His father, William Callaway, had donated the original tract of land which became New London. Callaway owned this land between 1757 and his death in 1809. The connection to Callaway, as well as a few primary source writings, provide evidence that the Revolutionary-era military arsenal from this area was located on the property.

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.

Bedford Bulletin (Bedford) February 13, 1902.

Cohen, Stan. Historic Springs of the Virginias: A Pictorial History. Missoula, MT. Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 1981. 

Moorman, John Jennings (1854). The Virginia springs: comprising an account of all the principal mineral springs of Virginia, with remarks on the nature and medical applicability of each. The Library of Congress. Richmond, Va., J. W. Randolph.

Read, Daisy I. New London Today and Yesterday. Lynchburg, VA. J.P. Bell Company, 1950.

Sons, P. Echols & (1867). The Bedford Alum and Iodine Springs, Near New London, Bedford County, Virginia. King & Baird.

Walton, George E. The Mineral Springs of the United States and Canada, With Analyses and Notes on the Prominent Spas of Europe, and a List of Sea-Side Resorts. New York, NY. D. Appleton and Company, 1883.