It ain't pretty being easy... (soopageek) wrote,
It ain't pretty being easy...

Tatham Springs Hotel: The Final Chapter

Tatham Springs Hotel: The Final Chapter

What follows is an epilogue to a series I originally posted here in the summer of 2005. If for some reason you missed the original series and would like to view it, here are the links.

Part I - The Exterior of the Hotel
Part II - The Pool  & Bath Houses
Part III - The First Floor Interior, A
Part IV - The First Floor Interior, B
Part V - The 2nd Floor Foyer, Hall, and Exterior
Part VI - The 2nd Floor Interior
Part VII - In search of the Tatham Spring
Part VIII - Epilogue, Tatham Springs: The Final Chapter

hen I was home in June, I was finally able to drive out to the grounds of the old Tatham Springs Hotel in Washington County, Kentucky. I had visited the grounds twice in the summer of 2005, taking an immense and extensive photo record of the property. In May of 2006, I was alerted by a friend of mine that the building had completely burned to the ground. As a point of reference, please consider the following three photographs. The first is a historical photo of the building that I found online.

The next photo is from roughly the same angle, taken by me last summer.

And finally, the way it looks today after the fire, from the same angle.

When I arrived at the gate, the first thing I noticed after the pile of charred rubble at the end of the driveway were the signs which were posted on the side of the old general store.

I would later learn, in a conversation with my brother, that the old hotel was one of two properties that had burned that night. Just a couple of miles up the road, a brand new double wide trailer, whose owners had not ever had the chance to move into yet, had been torched. The current theory (it seems to me anyway) is that some hooligans probably got all liquored-up one night and caused some mischief. While I feel for the owners of the trailer, I'm sure their insurance will replace it. The old hotel is a piece of history that is now lost forever. I feel privileged that I was able to tour the grounds as extensively as I did last summer and that my photos from my expeditions are likely the final record of the property's long and enigmatic history. I'm told that the Washington County Historical Society is aware of my photos and that they even directed someone to my LiveJournal series about it. I've even been told that they're interested in publishing them, but they've yet to contact me. If I don't hear from them soon I'll probably contact them myself and make available to them, as well as the local library, my high resolution version for prints if they so desire.

What follows is a collection of photos of the property in its current state. There's not really much to say about the photos, so my usual narrative will be sparse. Enjoy.

When I mentioned the fire a few weeks ago upon learning about it, someone suggested to me in the comments that maybe the bath houses had survived. I'm sad to to report that they were lost in the fire as well. I didn't really expect them to since they were so close to the main building. The only structures which remain on the property is the old pump house and the recreation shelter, in addition to the pool. Of the main building itself, all that's left are the three chimeys.

Of course, what little foundation the building had remains as well, a testament to its many additions and eras. It's a combination of rock...

...poured cement (in the case of the bath houses)...

....cement block....

...and brick.

The main building had very little indoor plumbing, so there wasn't much evidence of pipes and boilers/heaters except near the bath houses.

Since the building was made almost entirely of wood, all that really remained was a lot of curled tin from the roof and piles of ash mixed with plaster from the walls. There were a few charred pieces of wood scattered about, but for the most part, the building was completely vaporized by the fire.

One thing I like to do when I revisit a place that has changed dramatically is to recreate photos, either from the same angle or in spirit. In addition to the reference shots at the beginning of this entry, there is another I'd like to share with you. The first of these photos originates from my second trip to the property last summer when I took welfy to see the place. We took a timer photo of ourselves sitting together on the porch steps of the second level.

She came with me to see the post-fire ruins, so we found a piece of foundation to sit on that was approximately in the same location as where we were on the stairs and took another timer photo.


I took some new photos of the pool, most of which aren't spectacular or add anything new to the photos I had taken on previous trips, with the exception of one, of something I hadn't noticed the previous times.


In the original series, I spent some time exploring a creek where the old hotel's spring-access was purportedly located, including some shots of the Chaplin River which flows beside the entire property. I never really captured any good photos of the river, so I made-up for that this time. When I left the property, I drove across the bridge and down a side road on the other side of the river, and found a nice spot for grabbing a few photographs.

You can see the chimneys just beyond the tree-line on the river bank. Those chimneys look so lonely and stark. I hope the owners leave them when they bulldoze and remove the rubble. They might not be much, but they're all that remains of a grand old building with a colorful, if sketchy, history. I'd like to think that some day, in another hundred years, someone will be wandering through there and find the chimneys mingled with a small forest of oaks and maples and wonder about what it used to be.

The entire set of photos I took of the fire ruins can be viewed in my online photo gallery.

The entire set of my first trip to Tatham Springs can viewed there as well, in addition to the second trip there a couple of months later with welfy.

x-posted to abandonedplaces and rural_ruin
Tags: photo, welfy

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