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November 19, 2017

10/13/2017 6:03:00 PM
Historic Pools Closed

WARM SPRINGS — The historic Jefferson Pools have been closed due to deteriorating conditions.

Bath County Building Official and Emergency Services Coordinator Andy Seabolt notified Omni Homestead officials of his decision to close the pools by letter Wednesday.

“I have inspected the structures at 11 Bath Street, Warm Springs, known as The Jefferson Pools,” Sea-bolt’s letter stated. “The office and especially the bath houses are dilapidated, unsafe for any occupancy and need to be closed.”

Seabolt cited a portion of the Bath County Code which states that “the owners of buildings and structures upon real estate shall henceforth be required to remove, repair or secure any building, wall or structure which might endanger the public health or safety of others.”

“As these are historic structures, I understand that every nail tells a story but simple renovation would not be enough as the structural joists, vertical framing and surface finish boards are rotting,” Seabolt said. “I also have concern about foundation stability as it is pointed stone and the cement is deteriorated.”

Seabolt forwarded copies of the letter to Warm Springs District Supervisor Bart Perdue and County Administrator Ashton Harrison.

“The structures may no longer be used and shall be secured from entry immediately,” Seabolt’s letter stated. “Please contact this office within 10 business days with a mitigation plan for these properties.”

The Omni Homestead Resort responded Thursday with a statement from Lynn Swann, director of marketing and communications.

“Regrettably, the historic Jefferson Pools are closed and will remain closed until further notice, based on directive from Bath County officials,” Swann said. “We continue to evaluate all options to ensure the long-term viability of the Jeffer-son Pools.”

In January 2016, The Omni Homestead Resort announced plans to prepare a historic structures report on the Jefferson Pools. The report was part of the resort’s celebration of its 250th anniversary.

The report would also serve as a guide for repairing, rehabilitating or restoring the property.

At a press briefing, Homestead officials also announced that a committee would be formed to oversee the structures report.

“The Omni Homestead is committed to preserving the historic ambiance and the continued use of the pools,” said then-Omni Homestead Managing Director David Jurcak. “The pools are part of the resort and the foundation of Bath County; the historic structures report is a key first step in ensuring their future.”

The Jefferson Pools trace their roots to the mid 1700s.

The Gentlemen’s Pool House is the oldest spa structure in the U.S. — its octagonal wooden building built in 1761. The Ladies Pool House was built in 1836.

The spas are naturally fed by 98-degree mineral spring water. The men’s spa holds 40,000 gallons of continuously flowing water.

Famous bathers include Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the U.S. who spent three weeks there in 1819 bathing three times a day. He described the waters as “first merit” in a letter to his daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph.

The site was listed as the Warm Springs Bathhouses on the Virginia Landmarks Register on Nov. 11, 1968 and the National Register of Historic Places on Oct. 8, 1969.

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