Sulphur Springs

In late February 1827 a sulphur spring was discovered in West Asheville on land owned by Robert Henry, either by Henry himself, or his slave Sam. Sulphur springs can be identified by a slight rotten egg smell, and since ancient times the water has been used to treat various ailments such as skin diseases, “women’s diseases,” arthritis, and dyspepsia.

In 1834 Henry’s son-in-law Reuben Deaver built a wooden hotel 400 yards above the spring, creating Asheville’s first health resort – “Deaver’s Sulphur Springs.” The hotel became popular, especially with low-country planters and other wealthy Charlestonians looking to escape the summer heat. The two-story hotel had piazzas running all around for guests to enjoy views of the Blue Ridge and Mount Pisgah. There were also bowling alleys, billiard tables, shuffle-boards, and a large ball-room with a string band of free blacks.

On the 13th of March 1861, just before the start of the Civil War, the hotel burned to the ground. The cause was not known but was deemed suspicious by Cornelia Henry, Robert’s wife. From 1860 to 1868 Cornelia kept a diary which has been collected and published by Karen L. Clinard and Richard Russell entitled, Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journals and Letters of the Henry Family.

The hotel was not rebuilt until 1887 when Edwin Carrier bought the land and built a large brick hotel on the spot, calling it “Carrier’s Springs.” It was later called the Belmont, and in 1892 it too was destroyed by fire, ending the resort era on that piece of land, although the springs remained.

In the 1920’s the concrete pavilion surrounding the springs was used as a base for the Malvern Hill’s Country Club.

From a 1920’s Asheville Chamber of Commerce pamphlet, “Live and Invest in the Land of the Sky:”

“Malvern Hills is the modern development of the historic old Sulphur Springs property, where Asheville’s fame as a resort was born. Playground of Carolina aristocracy of a century ago, it present unimpaired today the same qualities of natural charm enhanced by a host of improvements and conveniences which skilled landscapers and engineers have made possible.” That portion of Asheville which is now Malvern Hills has long been regarded as one of the most beautiful properties to be found anywhere in the South. Nature, to begin with, was more than gracious in bestowing her charms in Malvern Hills. It is a place of gently rolling slopes, of wooded knolls, of velvet green turf and winding roadways — with a host of magnificent mountain peaks on every side to add their inspiring presence. Although lying within the city limits of Asheville, Malvern Hills possesses all the spacious restfulness of a well-groomed country estate.

In the 1980’s what was left of the country club building was destroyed. Today, all that remains of the Sulphur Springs is an overgrown lot and cement pavilion, hidden on the side of the road in the Malvern Hills neighborhood.

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2 Comments

    1. You are correct, Cornelia, called Cora Lee, suffered from headaches, loved her HomeGuard husband “William”, Robert Henry’s son, immensely, and had to be convinced by her many children to keep that diary. So glad she did. Robert Henry? WOW!! What an American original. And Cora Lee? Who can complain about hard work after reading her daily life?

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