Columbus’ Bath House

While looking through the old newspapers I am always amazed at what I find.  Various businesses I never realized existed in Columbus or events that were once celebrated, but now long forgotten.

Recently, I stumbled across an advertisement for a once integral part of life…the bath house. 

The earliest public baths date to the Indus Valley Civilization, 3300 to 1300 B.C., in present-day Pakistan. In the United States by the 1840s, outhouses were the norm for most of the country and it was the dawning of the germ theory of disease, the idea that one should separate ones water supply from ones sewage to prevent disease.

Columbus, barely 20 years into its incorporation by the 1840s, possessed its very own bath house, known as the Medical Spring Bathing House! Such businesses offered an opportunity for cleanliness as well as socializing.

The Medical Spring Bathing House, operated by Daniel Baldwin, opened for the April 1840 season.  The advertisement reads as follows:

This establishment is now open for the season: the baths having been newly painted, and every department put in good order, the public can be well accommodated.  To the Ladies department, new baths have been furnished, and if there is sufficient encouragement they will be kept exclusively for their use.  The subscriber’s family reside[s] on the lot, so that ladies can enter from his residence through the garden, or as formerly.


For a single warm Bath, 50. 

For [amount] of $5. Twelve Tickets will be given.

For the season, from 1st April to 1st October, 6 months, $10.00

Payable in advance, and in good funds.

The house may be left open on Sundays from sunrise to 8 o’clock, A. M., but the servants will receive the pay-consequently each person subscribing will be required to pay an extra of 25 cents to them.


It is unclear how long the Bath House operated.  Baldwin is listed as a grocer in 1854, but he may have operated both businesses at the same time.  In 1865, Baldwin died of “apoplexy”, or a stroke, and there is no evidence that the bath house continued operation after his death.

Published in: on August 4, 2011 at 10:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

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