by Captain Franklin Ellis432
Lebanon Springs is located in the northeastern part of the town, and is the largest and most flourishing village within its bounds. It is principally situated at the base of a hill several hundred feet high, from which issue the famous thermal waters. From the summit of this hill is afforded a view of indescribable beauty,--a pleasing and harmonious combination of mount and vale, relieved by trees, gardens, fields, and farm-houses, with an effect that delights the eye and inspires the mind with the sublime glories of he scene. These happy conditions, and the rare qualities of the spring waters, have given the place great prominence as a summer resort,--a distinction it has enjoyed longer than any other place in the country. It was formerly known as "Montepoale," and was frequented by the natives centuries ago. When Captain Hitchcock visited the place, in 1756, he found the spring in a small clearing, curbed with logs, backed with clay, in which the Indians were accustomed to bathe. The effect of the waters upon the system of Hitchcock induced him to make the place his home, in 1771, and he thus became one of the first permanent settlers, as well as the first white man to visit this spot. A small house, with a bath-room attached, was erected for his accommodation immediately below the spring. The land at this time belonged to Charles Goodrich, of Massachusetts, who executed a lease to Hitchcock Nov. 19, 1778, for and during his natural life, the consideration being "the love of God, the public good, as well as benevolence towards said Hitchcock; and, also, the miraculous virtues of the waters upon the health of said Hitchcock." The privileges of this lease were enjoyed by Hitchcock until Nov. 4, 1806. He took a small fee for the use of his bath, which gave him a moderate support. The springs had become so popular, meanwhile, that more extensive accommodations were demanded. The buildings erected comprises a large bath-house, summer cottages, and spacious hotels. In the court-yard of one of these--the Columbia Hall--is the spring. It is on the south slope of the hill, three hundred feet above the valley and twelve hundred feet above tide-water. The water bubbles up from the bottom of a basin twelve feet in diameter and four deep, and has an unvarying temperature of 730 Fahrenheit the year around. It is soft and tasteless, but possesses medicinal properties of great merit, as will be seen from the following analysis by Prof. H. Dussauce, chemist to the Conservatoire Impérial des Arts et Métiers, Paris:
FOUND IN ONE GALLON OF WATER.
Many eminent physicians acquainted with its properties have recommended its use for the following, viz.: eczema, flesh-poisoning, scald-heads, arthritis, cutaneous diseases generally, morbid conditions of the liver, constipation, dyspepsia, chronic and inflammatory rheumatism, bronchitis, diseases of the kidneys, grout, and nervous diseases generally. As a beautifier of the complexion it has few equals, giving the skin a smooth, velvety appearance. The spring discharges five hundred gallons of water per minute, supplying a commodious bath-house in close proximity, and also furnishes the water for several mills farther down the hill.
One of the first houses built for the accommodation of visitors occupied the Carpenter lot. It was owned by Cyprian Bigelow, and was a long, gambrel-roofed structure. About 1790, Caleb Hull erected the second hotel, near the spring, a portion of which is yet used as a livery-stable opposite Columbia Hall.
In 1794, William Nichols, of Hartford, put up a building west of this, which after 1800 became the property of Caleb Hull, afterwards of his son Henry. These began a series of improvements, which have resulted in the present "Columbia Hall." It is an imposing structure, several hundred feet long supplied with the appliances of a modern hotel, and has pleasant accommodations for three hundred guests. The house stands on thirty-eight acres of ground, affording woodland rambles, pleasant walks, croquet lawns, and contains spacious buildings for indoor amusements. It is one of the most desirable places of resort in the State. Excepting a few years, the Hulls, father, son, and grandson, have been the proprietors of the Hall the past sixty years, and are favorably known for their hospitality and accommodating disposition. Since the completion of the railroad the Springs have become more easy of access, and in summer the place is thronged by gay and fashionable crowds as well as by those who seek rest and relief from their ills.
On the 13th of June, 1825, the Marquis De Lafayette and his son visited Columbia Hall. They were accompanied by General Solomon Van Rensselaer, Colonel Clinton, Colonel Cooper, Major Van Schaack, and other officers of Colonel Cooper's regiment of dragoons which acted as an escort to Lafayette. A reception was tendered him in the drawing-room of the Hall, which was so largely attended that the floor threatened to give way. The Hall has also been visited by many other celebrities, and in early time was a favorite resort of the Livingstons and other old families of the State.
Several other hotels were erected on the hill, after 1820, but were soon devoted to other uses.
Near the centre of the village is Field's Hotel, a house of excellent repute, which was erected by Jarvis Mudge, before 1780. It has been much enlarged and remodeled, and was kept, before the Fields, by Peter Cottle, Edmund Hand, Abel Mott, and others. Below the village, Reuben King had a pioneer tavern, about 1774. Here the committee of safety frequently assembled, and the patriots were there several times addressed by Parson Allen, of Massachusetts, who was very active in provoking resistance to Great Britain.
John Tryon had one of the first stores, on the site of the brick block, Gillet & Harris had another, on the opposite side of the street, and William Clark had the third store, in the same quarter. In the eastern part of the village, Stephen Hall had a store, the lower part of which was used as a distillery. Among those who were subsequently most active in trade were N. Nichols, P. Smith, E. E. Griggs, E. T. Tanner, and Gay & Pierce; Mr. Gay being still in business. There are several fine business blocks, and half a dozen stores in the different branches of trade.
It is probable that a post-office was kept at John Tryon's store, which was afterwards removed to New Lebanon. Subsequently a post-office was established in "Columbia Hall," with Henry Hull postmaster. The name was afterwards changed to Lebanon Springs. The postmasters have been John Bull, Jr., H. C. Bull, and Henry D. Gay, the present incumbent.