Spring House - White Springs, FL
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
N 30° 19.801 W 082° 45.654
17R E 330716 N 3356668
Quick Description: The Spring House at the White Sulfur Springs in White Springs, Florida, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Location: Florida, United States
Date Posted: 9/20/2008 4:31:24 PM
Waymark Code: WM4QJW
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 18

Long Description:
From the White Springs History website:

The banks of the Suwannee River around White Sulphur Springs have been a place of refuge and restoration for its visitors and residents for centuries. To this day, evidence in the form of shards of pottery, hunting and cooking tools and even weapons are found in places where the early visitors to the peaceful region spent their time.

Timucuan Indians were living on the banks of the Suwannee River at White Springs when the Spanish explorers came to what is now North Florida in the 1530s. The Suwannee River formed the boundary between the Timucuans on the east and the Apalachees on the west, and even then it was considered special, and historic.

White Sulphur Springs was considered to be a sacred healing ground and warring tribes could come to bathe in and drink the mineral waters here while putting aside their disagreements.

In 1835, Bryant and Elizabeth Sheffield bought land for a plantation in the Suwannee River valley region, including the spring and most of what is now the Town of White Springs. Mr. Sheffield's testimonials about the good effects the sulfurous spring water had on his health brought others to the ancient healing place who were in need of relief from rheumatism, kidney trouble, nervousness, and other ailments.

Sheffield built a log hotel beside the spring to provide lodging for the visitors, and Florida's first tourist destination was in business. A log spring house surrounded the spring until 1903, when Minnie Mosher Jackson built the concrete and coquina wall still standing along with a four-tiered structure that included treatment rooms, a concession area, and an elevator.

From the Tallahassee Freenet website:

The spring is 0.1 mile west of the intersection of U.S. 41 and State Road 136 on the Suwannee River in White Springs. Look for signs to the Stephen Foster State Folk Culture Center. As you approach the Culture Center, you will see the old spring house on the left. You can pay to enter the park, or park at the spring for no charge.

The spring flows from a limestone cavity and into the adjacent Suwannee River. It is enclosed by the remnants of a large "spring house," a four-story structure with beveled corners on the inside that provided access and accompanying health treatments. Multi-level ports, a tall sluice gate, in the spring house were designed to limit intrusion of the river when water levels were high. Stairs lead to the top, which is covered with a white wooden structure with cedar shingles. The gate is gone now from the sluice but water still flows out through it into the river. The flow was strong when the authors visited in 1998 and 1999.

The pool is circular and 12-15 in diameter. Most of the pool is only about three feet or deep or less. The water has a sulphurous smell and is lightly tannin-colored. The depth of the pool varies with the level of the river. The park ranger told RB that the spring hadn't flowed in years, but is now flowing again. Either the water table was too low (due to industrial drawdowns?) or part of the cave had collapsed. During the floods of winter, 1998, the water rose above the railing around the top of the spring house, approximately 35 feet.

Use/Access

* The spring has no current use, but is frequented by visitors to the Culture Center. It is one of the most complete ruins of the types of structures that were built around a number of Florida springs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

* Doctors offices, changing rooms, and concessions were once located inside the wings. Wooden balcony-walkways led around each floor looking down into the pool, giving a gallery effect. You can still see the niches in the wall where the galleries were attached. An elevator on one side carried patients from pool level to the top and from there they could get to the wings, no door was cut in the thick concrete walls surrounding the spring. In the middle you can look down on the spring itself, but don't jump, it's quite a drop, and besides, wooden grillwork bars you from the side over the deepest part, the side most distant from the river.

A couple of old postcards showing the Spring House in its heydey are available at Moody's Postcard Blog website.

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