Howland Springs and Hotel was the place to be for tourists in the 19th century and a place for Trumbull County residents to relax and unwind. It was even the vacation destination of presidents James A. Garfield and William McKinley before they were elected.
Lee Offerdahl, president of the Howland Springs Water Company, said that the Howland Springs and Hotel was a retreat for Trumbull County residents during the 1800s. The Howland Hotel and Howland Springs were located where the Howland Springs Water Company is presently located on Howland Springs Road, Offerdahl said.
Lee Offerdahl from Howland Springs Water holds a postcard of Howland Springs circa 1868.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
"There was nothing around here at the time as far as entertainment and recreation," Offerdahl said. "The Howland Hotels were spread out, and it was single buildings with four to six rooms in each building. There was also a dance hall with a roller rink. The spas were located separate from the hotel. It looks like the spas were located in the center of where the hotels were.
''People came here for a long weekend and came to the health spa to stay healthy and well,'' he said.
According Warner Taiclet, president of the Howland Historical Society, Dr. John Seely purchased Howland Springs area, which was 85 acres of land and contained mineral springs.
The book "The History of Howland Springs: The Howland Springs of Howland Township, Trumbull County, Ohio, Howland's First Restaurant and Hotel" by Grace C. Allison notes that the land was purchased from Joseph and Lydia Howland.
Seely decided to utilize the significance of the mineral springs creating a health spa to treat "scrofulous and dyspeptic diseases." "Scrofulous disease"?refers to a form of tuberculosis that affects the lymph nodes. Then, in the year 1873, the Shedd brothers constructed a three-story hotel. This hotel was located just south of the springs.
"The spas were purchased on Feb. 26, 1803, by Dr. John Seely," Taiclet said.
But the spas weren't the only attraction, Taiclet said. "The Howland Hotel had the first bowling alley west of the Appalachian Mountains."
The June 21, 1882, issue of the Western Reserve Chronicle, cited by Allison in her book, reported that on June 15 or June 16, the Howland Springs' hotel building had suffered a fire, which caused it to burn to the ground. The Chronicle stated that the cause of the fire was unknown.
"The hotel burnt down because they put out smudge pots to get rid of the mosquitoes, and the smoke from the smudge pots was how the hotel burnt down," Taiclet said.
But a July 18, 1883, issue of the Warren Daily Chronicle announced that Howland Springs was repaired and was ready for guests. It boasted that: "The large, well-lighted, well-ventilated ball room can be secured at reasonable rates for dancing parties. The beautiful grove is open free of charge to picnics. No spirituous liquors are sold on the premises."
The Howland Hotel was quite a fixture in the area. Taiclet said that people would take a train to the DeForest Railroad Station and from there, they would be transported to the Howland Hotel.
"The DeForest Railroad Station on DeForest Drive in Howland was one of the oldest railroad stations and the biggest station in the area," Taiclet said. "People would take the streetcars out to the railroad station, then they would take their horse and buggies up to the Howland Hotel."
According to Allison, for more than 180 years the sources of spring water have been bubbling over the surface at Howland Springs. Allison said that in 1799, after the first settlers came to Howland, the spring water at Howland Springs rose to great acclaim for its healing qualities. The springs were beneficial for sicknesses that needed iron for treatment.
Allison said that the Howland Springs Health Resort was a well-loved destination for Warren natives. According to her book, by the year 1854, residents of Trumbull County were praising Howland Springs. the book notes that even Sunday Schools held their monthly outings at Howland Springs.
Though the fire diminished Howland Springs popularity as a tourist destination, people still enjoy the fresh water from Howland Springs today.