Mount Clemens, Michigan

The Bath City of America

The Colonial Bath House

Known first as the Mt. Clemens Sanitarium, the COLONIAL opened on December 1, 1896 and was located at 234 S. Gratiot Avenue, about one-half mile south of the center of the city. The building was in the center of a 3 acre area which was the highest elevation in Mount Clemens.

The COLONIAL was a large structure with broad verandas encircling two sides that added charm and distinction. The style of architecture, no doubt, later gave it the name of the COLONIAL. It was built entirely of brick and stone, with special attention give to sanitary details, drainage, ventilation and plumbing. The main building, five stories high, was a stately structure with wide porches and several beautiful white columns. In 1906, a large addition was constructed on the south end of the hotel which included another entrance and a ramp for invalids. A very attractive feature was the roof solarium where guests could bask in the sunshine. There was also a sun parlor which was furnished with couches, easy chairs and beautiful rugs.

The bath house was connected to the sanitarium by closed corridors, well-warmed and lighted. Most of the rooms were arranged en suite with private toilets. Modern elevators made all tooms desireable and readily accessible. Floors were covered with movable rugs to absorb sound. The medical direction was under the supervision of Dr. A. N. Shotwell, a leading Mt. Clemens physician who had many years experience using local mineral water in the treatment of many diseases. Trained nurses were in attendance for guests who required special care. Dr. Shotwell had been associated with Emma and Ida Lilly of Indianapolis, Indiana, in the building of the COLONIAL. The Lilly sisters had been long-time visitors to Mt. Clemens, and Emma lived in the hotel for many years.

Plans for the COLONIAL were by T. Van Damme, the popular architect and it was erected under the supervision of Charles C. Lamb and George H. Nichols. The plumbing and heating work was done by A. F. Glover and the electrical work by Electrical Engineering Company of Detroit. Beginning in July, 1901, Edwin R. Egnew served as manager, and a number of years later Webster W. Witt assumed the position of manager.

Eventually, control of the bath house and hotel passed on to Dr. Gustaf A. Persson who had been medical director of the Park and COLONIAL Bath House. Dr. Persson had plans to build a new bath house on the banks of the Clinton River in the Breitmeyer subdivision, but this project was later abandoned. In its place the Persson Foundation was formed to operate the COLONIAL and conduct research on the cure of rheumatism. Dr. Persson died in 1934, and in 1935 his widow sold the COLONIAL to a New York syndicate that hired Max Elkin of Mt. Clemens to be their manager.

Over the years, there were various projects to try to renovate the majestic facility and bring it up to present-day codes, but none proved successful. On May 31, 1984, firefighters from seven departments could not save the once elegant and historic COLONIAL from destruction by fire of "suspicious origin." The site now is the location of a drug store.

St. Joseph Sanitarium - includes photo!

Olympia Hotel & Bath House - includes photo!

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