Waterville Historical Society

your connection to the past

The Waterville Historical Society collects, preserves, provides access to, interprets and fosters an appreciation of history that has an impact on the Waterville, Ohio and surrounding area.

The Silver Spring Sanitarium --- Mystery #3

                    Dr. C. Sumner Emery

A number of us “older folks” remember a strange old relic, a narrow wooden building squeezed between River Road and the Maumee River near the rapids. It was across the road from where the Turkey Foot Rock was originally located and some people knew the area as Presque Isle Hill. Presque Isle Hill would be River Road rising southward from the end of Jerome Road. The ruins were supported on concrete pillars and today only remnants of these pillars remain. The group working in the archives had much discussion about this place which led to a major research project. It seems that there is (or was) a running sulfur water spring at that location. Around 1910, Dr. C. Sumner Emery, a native of Maumee and practicing Toledo physician, purchased this property. He built and developed a health spa there which he called Silver Springs Sanitarium.  He believed that drinking and soaking in the mineral waters could cure various ailments. Dr. Emery and a partner Dr. Butler also had a health “spa” in Toledo on Dorr Street and in Sarasota, Florida.

Just up the hill from the spa was an old, three story hotel, said to have been a stage coach stop in earlier days. One source of information, a man who lived near there as a youth prior to 1958, remembers the hotel as abandoned and in bad shape and the old spa as a ramshackle house lived in a by poor family. The old hotel burned in March of 1967, a probable arson fire and the remains later torn down. At that time it was owned by W.H. Cook. It should be noted that the River Road was the principal route from Toledo to Waterville and beyond. On some of our old maps it is called the Toledo-Napoleon Road.

River Road 02 1929-30.jpg

One of our sources remembers a low concrete structure around the sulfur spring which seems to still be there. Lois Waffle, in our oral histories collection remembers walking up from Maumee and stopping at “old Doc Emery’s place” for a drink of sulfur water. A Monclova history suggests these buildings at one time may have had a darker history. The only photographs we can find of the sanitarium building were taken between 1929 and 1932 during ice jams and flooding along the river. Found in the Rulapaugh photo album, the attached photo shows the sanitarium may have morphed into a roadhouse covered with garish advertisements.  A recently discovered newspaper obituary dated January 2, 1947 states that John Cline was found dead in the old sanitarium building having lived there for seventeen years. Perhaps these frequent flooding events discouraged the sanitarium business or maybe the crash of 1929 forced it to close. Whatever the reason, these buildings had begun their slide into oblivion.  Today the Silver Springs Sanitarium is only a collection of concrete pillars and rubble and of faulty memories. New houses overlook the river up Presque Isle Hill. We have created a file of known information and photographs of the old sanitarium and hotel. We are still in research mode so if anyone has a memory, photograph, story or information please contact us through the website or visit us at the Wakeman Archives.

P.O. Box 263,  Waterville, OH  43566            whs43566@outlook.com

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