Sunday, January 22, 2017

Healing and Luxury: A History of the Saegertown Inn

Front view of the Saegertown Inn with French Creek along left side.
With the overwhelming interest in photographs of the Saegertown Inn recently posted on the Crawford County Historical Society's social media pages, what better time to "get away from it all" for a while and discuss the history of this grand hotel and vacation venue.

Of Water and Hotels

The Saegertown Inn, originally named the Eureka Springs Hotel and Sanitarium, was built in 1888 as an accessory to the Eureka Springs Bottling Works. Owned by the Benner family, the bottling works and hotel were intended to create the ideal vacation spot- both therapeutic mineral waters for healing and revitalization and elegant full service accommodations for those taking advantage of these "treatments."

In 1885, the Benner's begin including an anonymously written poem in their pamphlets and advertising. It reads:

"Eureka! Yes 'tis true we found it-
Life's elixir let us sound it, to the world that all may try it, and be relieved from suffering by it. It will cure dyspepsia, salt rheum, sick headache, and constipation, neuralgia, rheumatism, gout, and ills accomp'ing these throughout. All these we have name, all skin diseases just the same, yield to this water, we're assured by the scores of people who've been cured."

New Ownership and Expansion

In 1898, father and son duo Horace and Frank Fox purchased the Eureka from the Benners for $20,000, renaming it the Saegertown Inn. The entrance was located on the opposite side of and behind the current PNC Bank on Erie Street in Saegertown and the property, with both land and French Creek access, filled the entire block up to and including the current location of St Bernadette's R.C. Church. The inn offered 90 bedrooms, a formal dining room, sun porches, boat docks, and more. It was built to rival any resort hotel of its day, with local tradition even claiming John D. Rockefeller spent time at the Inn while visiting nearby Meadville.

1907 Postcard of Saegertown Inn
The Fox's turned a classy, yet local establishment into a resort known throughout the eastern United States.  When father and son decided the need arose for local golfing facilities to entertain their guests, a dinner was held at the Inn to discuss the possibility of a country club for golf and polo. Their recommendation created the Meadville Country Club, organized shortly after by a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce on June 16, 1905. The club still operates today.

This ad, from the April 1906 edition of "The Chautauquan" magazine, is an excellent example of what
one would find picking up newspapers or magazines from Washington, D.C. to New England.
Upon his father's death in 1907 and his mother's in 1909, Frank Fox ran the thriving hotel until his own death in 1919. The mineral springs were renamed after Horace's death to be called Frank M. Fox and Company. Upon Frank's death, his wife maintained the business for a time, remarrying and running the operation with her new husband before it eventually changed hands and faced a steady decline as the appeal of its "healing waters" faded.

The Saegertown Inn and French Creek were made for each other.
The inn created a dock and boat use area for guests for relaxation and enjoying the scenery.


After the Fox family, the Inn was sold and partially demolished in 1934. The remainder of the Inn was razed in 1949, ending the era of big hotels in Saegertown.

More Photographs of the Inn

Grand Entrance

The grand entrance court at the Inn covered most of a city block.
This two-story structure gave every room access to the open court or the grounds.

Winter View of the Inn

This turn of the century view of the Saegertown Inn is looking towards the Grand Entrance and Courtyard from Erie Street. The photographer would be standing approximately where the houses behind PNC Bank are located today, shooting the photo from across the street.

Courtyard with Octagonal Garden

This attractive octagonal garden was one of the first views taken in by guests to the hotel.
The base of this structure still survives today and was recently found when a local resident was digging on their property.

Living Room

Large, homey, and guest friendly, the living room featured a huge fireplace and seating for chatting with new friends. The infamous sign above the fireplace read, "I am an old man and I've had many troubles, but most of them never happened."

Formal Dining Room 

The formal dining room at the Saegertown Inn hosted the Meadville High School class of 1912 on January 12, 1912, with 75 students present. This gracious space served guests and community alike, with private dining rooms were also available for guests.

"Spring Room"

The famous DeProfundis Springs, located inside the spring room, flowed into a beautiful fountain along one wall.
The water from the spring was served throughout the inn.

Sun Room

The Sun Parlor was an inviting room for guests to enjoy, especially in the winter months.
Activities could take place here for guests, or just lounging in the wicker chairs enjoying the sunlight.


The Saegertown Inn as the host to a bobsledding outing in roughly 1907.


Advertisement for Saegertown Inn. The Chautauquan, April 1906.

Saegertown Beverages. "The History and Growth of Saegertown Beverages." Accessed January 19, 2017.

Sherretts, Joshua F. Around Saegertown. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub., 2007.

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About the Author

Joshua Sherretts is President of the Board of Directors at the Crawford County Historical Society and Executive Director at the Baldwin-Reynolds House Museum. A lifelong resident of the area, Joshua is also the author of Around Saegertown and co-author of Oil Boom Architecture: Titusville, Pithole, and Petroleum Center. His other writings can be found in the Meadville Tribune, and Erie Times. In addition to his duties at the museum and historical society, Joshua is the Finance Director at the Meadville-Western Crawford County Chamber of Commerce and involved with a number of community organizations dedicated to preserving and improving the local area. He is a graduate of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania where he earned degrees in History and Secondary Education. Joshua lives with his wife in Meadville.