Carlisle Springs Hotel Destroyed by Fire in 1869

Advertisement for the Carlisle Sulphur Springs.

Advertisement for Carlisle Sulphur Springs appearing in the American Volunteer, June 21, 1821.

The healthy sulphur spring waters and the cooling breezes from the North Mountain made Carlisle Springs a favored summer vacation spot for families from Philadelphia and Baltimore. In 1852, Morris Owen and Anson P. Norton1 bought the Carlisle Sulphur Springs Hotel and petitioned the court to grant them a tavern license.2 Norton sold his share after five years, and by the time of the 1869 fire the property had changed hands several times.

Carlisle Herald, February 5, 1869. “GREAT FIRE. The Carlisle Springs Hotel Utterly Destroyed. The well known and popular summer resort known as the “Carlisle Springs,” situated on the Sterrett’s Gap road, about 5 miles north of Carlisle, near the North Mountain, was totally destroyed by fire on Tuesday morning last. The buildings were entirely of wood and composed three sides of a square; having a front of at least a hundred feet on the Sterrett’s Gap road, with two wings extending at right angles for almost equal length. The whole were three-storied and contained all the apartments necessary to accommodate comfortably, at least three hundred guests. The hotel was generally opened about the 1st of June, and kept open until autumn. At the time of the fire, the only occupants of the buildings were Mr. Charles Bates and family, who were left in charge by the owner and proprietor, Mr. Wm. G. Thompson, of Harrisburg, who is also proprietor of the State Capital Hotel at the latter place.3

The fire was first discovered about 4 o’clock on Tuesday morning and had its origin in the northern end of the western wing, in the second or third story, a part of the building that was entirely unoccupied, which fact tends to the belief that the fire was the work of an incendiary. A number of farmers and other persons living in the vicinity were attracted by the flames and their persistent exertion succeeded in saving nearly all the furniture, bedding, etc.

The property was well covered by insurance…The loss of these buildings will be seriously felt by the citizens of this section of our county, as well as the numerous guests who were wont to spend the heated term there imbibing health and vigor from the medicinal waters.

We hear from a trustworthy source of a project to rebuild the hotel, which we sincerely hope may be successful. As an item of interest connected with the old place we can state that in its earlier history HORACE GREELY was a part owner of the property.”

Much more information about the history of the hotel and the resort at Carlisle Springs can be found in the 1997 Cumberland County Historical Society publication In Pursuit of Pleasure: Leisure in Nineteenth Century Cumberland County by Clarke Garrett, Ph.D.

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References (Sources Available at CCHS in bold)

[1] Thomas Cushing, A Genealogical and Biographical History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Reprint. (Genealogical Publishing Company, 1975), 553 for a biography of A. P. Norton.

[2] Cumberland County Clerk of Courts. Tavern Petition 1852.044. Cumberland County Archives. Carlisle, PA.

[3]Carlisle Herald, April 27, 1866. Announcement that N. W. Woods sold Carlisle Springs to Messrs. Thompson and McCulloch of Harrisburg for $8,000. They planned to refit and improve the property.