Finding Aid of the Warm Springs Hotel Ledger of Accounts,<date calendar="gregorian" era="ce" normal="1881">1881</date>, PC.AB.510.4


Finding Aid of the Warm Springs Hotel Ledger of Accounts,<date calendar="gregorian" era="ce" normal="1881">1881</date>, PC.AB.510.4


The Warm Springs Hotel was established near thermal springs of the same name, in Buncombe, later Madison County, around 1832. Until destroyed by a fire in 1884, the hotel was one of North Carolina's main summer resorts. It was located in the community of Warm Springs (renamed Hot Springs in 1886), in the Appalachian Mountains of western Madison County near the confluence of the French Broad River and Spring Creek. The Swannanoa Hotel opened in 1880 in Asheville, North Carolina. Both hotels at separate times were briefly under the proprietorship of Dr. William H. Howerton, who had served briefly as a captain of Company H, 57th Regiment, North Carolina Troops in 1862. Following the war Dr. Howerton became active in politics and was elected Secretary of State on the Republican ticket in 1882. He operated the Warm Springs Hotel from 1877 to 1882.
A general ledger for the year 1881 containing accounts posted from a daybook now missing from the collection. The volume includes guests accounts due the hotel as well as accounts that were owed by the hotel to staff for supplies, advertising, and other expenses. The names of each guest are listed with the corresponding hometown or city. Incidental charges to guests and to staff are included for various infractions, including breaking glass and crockery. The index is partially obscured by the overwriting of a child's hand. Some other pages are filled with practice correspondence, essays, and a farcical song , parodying initiation into a black fraternal organization.

Descriptive Summary

Warm Springs Hotel Ledger of Accounts, 1881
Call Number
Warm Springs Hotel
1.00 items
State Archives of North Carolina

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    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], PC.AB.510.4, Warm Springs Hotel Ledger of Accounts, 1881, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC, USA.

    Historical Note

    Warm Springs, N.C., was a community located in Appalachian Mountains of western Madison County (formerly Buncombe County) near the confluence of the French Broad River and Spring Creek. It drew its name from the natural thermal springs in the area. Since the early 1800s or before, the locale had been a destination for travelers seeking relief from their ailments. The most well known of the hotels and guest houses in the area was the Warm Springs Hotel.

    The Warm Springs Hotel was originally owned by Philip Hale Neilson, followed by James W. and John E. Patton from 1832 until the end of the Civil War. The facility had over 300 rooms and its dining room could accommodate around 600 diners. In 1866 James H. Rumbough purchased the hotel along with the entire town and springs. In its heyday in the 19th century, Warm Springs Hotel was considered one of North Carolina's main summer resorts, boasting a ballroom that was the second largest in the state. The arrival of the train to Warm Springs further contributed to the influx of tourists and the potential expansion of resort accomodations. While this hotel burned in 1884, Rumbough did build within two years a successor, the Mountain Park Hotel. Also in 1886 the name of the town was changed to Hot Springs when springs of higher temperatures were discovered.

    Located in western North Carolina, Asheville (Buncombe County), is on a plateau at an average altitude of 2, 216 feet. Following the Civil War, Asheville experienced slow yet steady growth in the tourist industry, appealing primarily to a wealthy clientele. The completion of the Western North Carolina Rail Road, October 1880 ushered in a new period of economic prosperity and tourism. During that same year, the Swannanoa Hotel opened on South Main Street, now College. The Swannanoa was a four-story building and boasted the first bathroom in the city.

    William H. Howerton (Feb. 9, 1831 - Aug. 15, 1885), after qualifying as a physician, opened in the 1850s a medical practice at Richlands, Onslow County, where he met and married Amanda Koonce. Moving to Rowan County prior to the Civil War, he served briefly as captain of Company H, 37th Regt., North Carolina Troops, in 1862. Following the war, Dr. Howerton became active in Republican Party politics and successfully. stood for election to the office of Secretary of State on the Republican ticket in 1872. Upon completion of his term of office, early in 1877, Dr. Howerton left Raleigh for Warm Springs (now Hot Springs), Madison County, where he began operation of the Warm Springs Hotel. In November, 1882, Dr. Howerton negotiated for proprietorship of the Swannanoa Hotel in Asheville, and switched his operation from Warm Springs to Asheville in mid December, 1882. In 1885, Howerton took charge of the Ocean House Hotel at Morehead City, dying suddenly of a paralytic stroke at the height of the season on August 15, 1885, and was buried in Bayview Cemetery.

    Contents of the Collection

    Subject Headings

  1. Hotelkeepers
  2. Hotels--Employees
  3. Hotel management
  4. Mineral Waters--Therapeutic use--North Carolina--Madison County
  5. Resorts--North Carolina--Madison County
  6. Madison County (N.C.)
  7. Asheville (N.C.)--Social life and customs
  8. Warm Springs (N.C.)--Social life and customs
  9. Hot Springs (N.C.)--Social life and customs
  10. Account books
  11. Acquisitions Information

    Probable transfer to N.C. State Archives custody from Western Office, North Carolina Division of Archives and History, ca. 1992.

    Processing Information

  12. Processed by Fran Tracy-Walls, 2009
  13. Encoded by Fran Tracy-Walls, May 2009; September 2016