Bathing Again – 1910

By Lois Lombardo

Mount Clemens is no stranger to relaxing spa atmospheres, massages and soaking in healing, holistic water. With the discovery of the healing mineral waters of the Michigan Basin in 1870, first noted by Dorr Kellogg, people began to flock to the area creating the need for hotels and bath houses.

The Park Bath House and Hotel, pictured above on a postcard dated 1910, was located at 61 East Street overlooking the Clinton River (now North River Road). It became the fourth bath house in Mount Clemens. In its day, the Park had a national reputation and was one of the most lavish of all bath houses in the city.

It was owned by Margretha Kieffer, who originally came from Buffalo, New York, with her ailing daughter in 1887. The daughter passed away, but Kieffer, had invested with her son-in-law, Benjamin McArthur, changing its name to Park Hotel. Eventually Margretha’s husband, John, and his business partner William Burgard, built a new bath house that connected to the Park Hotel. The very large, threestory, 200 room addition took six years to complete.

In 1911 the proprietors purchased the grounds across the street formerly occupied by the Avery Hotel, which had been destroyed by fire. They turned the area, which was between Jones and Park Street, into a park with fountains, flowers, shrubbery and paths, perfect for relaxation for their patrons.

By 1928, nearly half a million mineral baths had been given. Business declined slowly and by 1937 the hotel was listed as vacant demolished in 1940. A USO Recreation Center was built and converted into the Mount Clemens Civic Center after World War II.

Over the years few have tried to continue the bath house experience. However, Sue Gans started a mineral skin care company called Vitl Waters some 20 years ago bottling the nutrients found in the mineral waters. Gans had owned the land and the well on Park Street which originally supplied bath water for the Park Hotel. After her passing, I (Lois Lombardo, owner of Olympia Salon & Spa on Cass Avenue) purchased the property and the well in hopes of carrying on the torch that Gans had carried so proudly.

On the small empty lot is a one car garage sitting quietly unnoticed. Inside that small garage is an electric well that is the famous well to the grand Park Bath House and Hotel. It is waiting patiently to be a part of something big again using the pure mineral waters of Mount Clemens.

Today, I have plans to create a new soaking experience directly from this well so people can step back in time and enjoy the benefi ts of this healing water once again.

Photos courtesy of the Mount Clemens Public Library Local History Photo Collection.

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