Saturday, November 22, 2008

Byron Hot Springs

Came across an article regarding this old historic playland of a structure. The structure itself is unimportant, but the history and the stories about it are mind blowing. From an early "THE BIG HOT SPOT" for Hollywood actors, to an internment and interrogation camp during world War 2, to as one commenter noted, "It may be too late to interview any soldiers who can remember the military use of the Byron Hot Springs in WWII, but there are still plenty around who remember its brief resurgence in the 70's with pot, booze, LSD, live bands, and lots of naked people." Acid, naked people, live bands, craziness. What's not to like? Led Zeppillin went to Bron-Yr-Aur in 1970 to compose Led Zep #3. Would it not be cool if Gram Parsons kicked it with the Flying Burrito Brothers to capture, here at this site, musically that aridness of the sandy, dusty California air? Would not this be the mecca?

As ripped from Wikipedia, a short version of its history: Byron, California is also home to the somewhat well-known and historical Byron Hot Springs, a now-abandoned resort which was a retreat that attracted many movie stars and famous athletes in the early 1900's. The first hotel was built in 1889 and was a three-story wood building, with a few cottages scattered nearby, as well as a laundry, gas plant and ice plant, all of which were destroyed by fire on July 25, 1901. A second hotel, also three stories, but made of stucco was constructed 1901-1902, but it burned on July 18, 1912. The third and final hotel, a four-story brick structure was built in 1913 and still stands. In 1938 the resort closed, due to a series of lawsuits, probably brought about by the Great Depression, but was leased by the government in 1941 and became a military interrogation camp housing both German and Japanese prisoners of war, known as Camp Tracy, until 1945, when orders were sent to dismantle it. In 1946 the Byron Hot Springs property was put up for sale and purchased by the Greek Orthodox Church for a sum of $105,000. It served as the Monastery St. Paul for several years. It then changed hands several times both as a resort, country club and private residence. It is currently privately owned by a developer who hopes to begin restoring the resort in early 2009, but the property is now in a state of disrepair.[2] Plans for the restoration of Byron Hot Springs are outlined at In 2005, a Victorian-era carriage house on the property was burned to the ground. The hotel itself sustained some fire damage, but still stands.[3]

Yes, the has a more detailed account, some vintage photos. So i went there, hopped over a wall, no "No Trespassing" signs to wander against. Inside the building, the word "decrepit" would be quaint and inapplicable to this once glorious palace but now a hovel of a shell of a death trap. About a mile or so from the walled entrance from Byron Hot Springs Rd. this skeleton stands, defiant in its misery.

Separated at Birth? You decide:

The stairs that lead into the heap have now turned into a slippery slope, that all the crumbled concrete, shards of glass and other debris; it's hard to differentiate between individual steps. on the stairwell. Inside, holes. Holes every where. Even though the construction is pretty damn sturdy, none of this dry wall plaster board; present are walls of concrete, vandals have blasted through these reinforced walls. They've punched through the floors and ceilings. The skeleton of this fair lady weeps on, though the broken water pipes of her ribs. Spray painted graffiti everywhere. Am guessing there's a shortage of the printed word "Fuck" in this world, so some missionaries have complied in filling that space.

The lobby has a Victorian charm, a quaint 1912 mission style, a grand pomp of vaulted ceilings and ornate trim on its fixtures. Through this skeleton, through the frame, it can be pieced what WAS: It was THE place. The vaulted two story lobby circumferenced by the indoor balcony. This wasn't your everyday Motel 6 on the side of the freeway, nor your Extend America, where monied folk think it a privilege to rent rooms for the week that includes merely a kitchenette. Back in the day, those were called dives. The Marbled staircase at Byron still remains. Marble! From way back it stood roughly in the same group as the still standing Clairmont in the Berkeley hills.

It still sits on beautiful land. Looking out the windows to mellow rolling green hills and palm trees swaying in the breeze. The mother's milk of the burbling gold from within the groundwater. Today, the uneven floors, and warped everything else, the place needs to be leveled. It's only a matter of time until some blocks fall onto someone's noggin, doing damage and raising the big public hoopla for its destruction. Just watch for the falling bricks.

better photos here:
My complete shots of the place:


At Monday, November 24, 2008 at 5:49:00 PM PST, Blogger Cowellian said...

I love this local history stuff. You have a habit of finding cool bits of information and writing about it. My only suggestion would be to do more of it.

At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at 7:08:00 AM PST, Blogger shasta daisy said...

Ahh...I can't believe you went with out me!


Post a Comment

<< Home