Heritage Site of the Month: White Springs

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Florida boasts many heritage tourism sites. Yup, that is right, there is more to do in Florida than visit the beaches and Disney (not that there is anything wrong with doing either of those things!). In an effort to make more people aware of these wonderful attractions we are going to start posting a monthly blog article titled “Heritage Site of the Month”. Now we know that we have already posted some information about various sites without giving them this “official” title. We hope you will browse through past posts to check out and learn about some of those sites. The North Central region is just full of wonderful little gems of Florida History and it would take me years to get through all of them. So be  patient and if you have any suggestions we would love to hear about them. All you have to do is submit a comment to our blog or email the author at bhines@uwf.edu.

The bath house at White Springs as it looks today, very similar to how it appeared in the 1950s.

Recently I gave a talk at the White Springs Public Library. I happened to arrive a bit early, so I took a drive around the historic town and came upon the historic site of the White Springs, which is obviously the namesake of this town. The town is located in Hamilton County right on the banks of the famous Suwannee River. In the mid-1800s springs throughout Florida had become popular tourism spots, in fact, they were probably the earliest tourism destinations in Florida. These springs, including sulphur springs such as White Springs, were said to have tremendous healing properties. People would flock to these springs to heal ailments such as arthritis, skin rashes and irritations, dyspepsia, kidney disease, anemia, even spinal irritation. Eventually business entrepreneurs built resort style hotels and lodges encompassing many of these Florida springs.  One such resort was constructed at White Springs. By the late 1800s this resort boasted 60 rooms to accommodate 200 guests. It had a large dining hall, it’s own livery and stable, bowling-alley, billiard hall , croquet grounds and of course the bath pool. The bath pool measures 20 ft by 30 ft. The bathing pool is cut from the solid rock and the water maintained a temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

By the 1930s the popularity of the resort had faded into Florida’s history. Today the springs and it’s surroundings look much like they did in the

The bath house at White Springs in 1914. Photo courtesy of the Florida State Archives.

1950s. Adjacent to the spring is the the Florida Nature and Heritage Tourism Center. Here you can pick up information about heritage and ecological sites throughout the state that you can visit. White Springs is also host to the annual Florida Folk Festival, which has giving the community the reputation as a long-standing reputation as a folk art destination. Just a tad further down the road is the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park which is another Florida heritage gem, encompassing vast formal gardens and unique Florida architecture. White Springs is just a hop, skip and a jump off of I-10 and well worth a stop, even if just for the day!

 

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