It was a busy week, with many miles logged out to Cambridge Springs and Meadville, Pennsylvania (361 miles one way), for our most current genealogy research trip to continue discovering more about my ancestors. And, as an added bonus, we stayed two nights at a 130-year-old Victorian inn and met some very nice and wonderful folks along the way.
We spent two days at the Crawford County Historical Society of Meadville and the Cambridge Springs Heritage Society and Museum respectively. We “hit the mother lode,” as Carolyn says, locating obituaries, wedding announcements, and other documentation of my ancestors.
All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better result. Many thanks to Joann in Meadville and Rose Smith in Cambridge Springs for spending so much time with us and guiding us to that “mother lode!”
Now, back to that Victorian inn…
The Riverside Inn and Hotel came about because of the mineral springs that had been discovered in 1860 by a Dr. John H. Gray, who owned a large farm along French Creek. Considered to be healthful and possess curative powers, these springs opened up new vistas for the small community as the Riverside Inn and Hotel was developed as, perhaps, the first health spa of its kind.
The Riverside flourished for years, accommodating wealthy patrons during this “mineral water boom” of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The small rural community became a busy resort.
Several other large and grand hotels sprouted in Cambridge Springs, but the Riverside Inn and Hotel is the lone survivor. After the burning of the other remaining one, the Rider Hotel, in 1935, and the decline of the belief in the healing powers of the mineral springs, the tourist trade faded.
The Riverside has managed to live on, however, keeping alive its traditions. A change of ownership in the 80s allowed for major restoration, helping to return the Riverside Inn and Hotel to its original splendor.
Carolyn and I truly enjoyed the quiet, country atmosphere and wonderful food in the beautiful Concord Room for breakfasts and dinners. It’s definitely a step way back in time: No elevator, no TV or phone in the room, and very limited Wi-Fi. What it did have was excellent charm.
We will return!