BEDFORD SPRINGS RESORT HISTORY
Just south of Bedford, PA is the Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa, which was once known as the Bedford Springs Resort. The resort hotel built near the springs was renowned throughout the 1800's and 1900's for its peaceful setting and elegance. What began as a hotel to house health conscious patrons in the early 1800's continued to develop into one of the country's top resort hotels.
Dr John Anderson began construction of the Bedford Springs Hotel in 1804, completing the hotel in 1806. The first hotel building was built mostly of native stone. From this first wing, the hotel grew each year with new additions. Two adjoining sections, the Swiss Building and the northernmost Colonnades were completed in 1840.
The Colonnade is built in Ante-Bellum architecture, perhaps to appeal to the many Southerners who were frequenting the spa.
The Bedford Springs Hotel was built to serve the many visitors to the area who were coming to drink the curative waters of the Bedford Springs. These visitors were often patients of local doctors, including Dr. John Anderson and Dr. William Watson who prescribed a regimen of diet, exercise and many, many pints of the springs water. These patients, who were wealthy enough to travel great distances to come to the Bedford Springs would also welcome a resort hotel where they could stay as they restored their health.
As the hotel grew in size and reputation, it served as host to a number of U.S. Presidents, including James Buchanon, Zachary Taylor, James K. Polk, William Henry Harrison.
There are many other famous guests that we could name but some of the most unusual guests were enemies of the United States. The Bedford Springs Hotel "hosted" nearly 200 Japanese Diplomats who were captured in Germany after Germany's surrender. These Prisoners of War were kept at the Springs until the end of the war with Japan. Officials were concerned that the local Bedford population would resent the Japanese being kept there, so they put out notices that the Japanese Ambassadors would not have use of the golf course and would not have access to liquor. The Bedford food supply would not be imposed upon to feed these prisoners. Food would be supplied by Washington D.C.
The Bedford Springs had already been helping with the US war effort, serving as a radio training school for the US Navy from 1942 through 1945. Over 7,000 sailors were trained here, with banquet hall full of radio equipment, the convention hall turned into classrooms. A number of men have visited us here at the Bedford County Visitors Bureau Office and commented to us about their experiences at the Radio Operator School. One ex-navy radioman commented, "We sat down for lunch one day and a guy draped a linen napkin over my lap. This wasn't exactly standard dining procedure in Navy chow halls and I wasn't sure if I liked that or not."The Bedford Springs Hotel, one of the most visible landmarks of the region’s past 200 years, received new hope when restoration of the facility to new glory was announced at a ceremony on the front lawn of the historic landmark in 2005. The Bedford Springs Resort re-opened to guests in July 2007 as the Bedford Springs Resort & Spa. In January 2009, the resort became known as the Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa, when Omni Hotels became the long term operator.
The 18 hole Golf Course received a lot of care and attention from the new operators of the Bedford Springs Resort during their renovations in 2006/2007. Overlooking breathtaking views of the Allegheny Mountains and Cumberland Valley, this remarkable course spans the work of three golf architectural masters—Spencer Oldham, A.W. Tillinghast, and Donald Ross. The total renovation was overseen by noted classic golf course restoration architect Ron Forse, restoring it to its original course layout. A round of golf on these historically significant tees will be a must-play for golf enthusiasts of all levels.
To see the Bedford Springs Resort official web site, click here.
For more information about the history of the Bedford Springs, I recommend the book (shown above) by Ned Frear. The book is 74 pages and sells for $10.00. To learn how to get a copy, visit our book sales page by clicking here.