Created By: Brandon Inabinet
Dr. Burwell Chick, a physician from Newberry, South Carolina, was the first to discover the commercial potential of Chick Springs. In 1842, Chick transformed the formerly Cherokee-owned 192-acre plot into a luxurious 60-room hotel. In seven years’ time, the Chick Springs Resort transitioned in ownership to Dr. Burwell Chick’s son, Ruben Chick. The Greenville Mountaineer September issue presented a full spread on the South Carolina social hotspot. Guests enjoyed the expansive hunting grounds, lively games of billiards, and extravagant evening balls.
The parties halted in 1861 as South Carolina’s seccession escalated into Civil War. One year later, the hotel caught fire, and everything was destroyed. An estimated $18,000 (roughly $350,000 today) in assets were lost as a result.
The skeletal remains of the Chick Springs Hotel stood for some twenty years until an Atlanta attorney, George Westmoreland, purchased the property and constructed a down-sized hotel and some accompanying cottages. Westmorland’s business undertaking was not a success and the second hotel on the site was forced to close its doors.
A local grocer, J.A. Bull, purchased the property in 1903 from Westmorland with the intent of bottling and selling the famous spring water that gave the place its name. Bull placed a full-page ad in the Greenville Daily News to announce the new-to-market Chick Springs Water and was met with great success. Bull reinvested his wealth into the Chick Springs Hotel and expanded the property to include 100+ guest suites, a ballroom and dining room, tennis courts, horseback riding trails, a golf course, an archery field, a swimming pool, and a bowling alley. But in 1907, the luxury get-away hotel faced disaster as a massive fire again burned the estate down to the bedrock, leaving charred ashes.
In 1914, the hotel was rebuilt under new ownership, but a grand reopening was received with an underwhelming reaction, as the start of World War I meant less families were looking for summer vacations plans in the South Carolina Upstate. The beginning of WWI prompted the hotel’s two-year transformation into a military academy. Over the subsequent decades, the military academy went through a metamorphosis of failed business ventures, including: a health clinic, a Ginger Ale Company, a spa, and even an amusement park. The Great Depression closed the doors of Chick Springs Resort permanently. And yet until the end of the 20th century, the Chick Springs Lake remained a popular swimming hole and picnic spot.
In 2008, the Chick Springs Historical Society organized with the goal of safeguarding the park that surrounds the famous spring. Today, a lone gazebo remains the only structure standing.
Bainbridge, Judith. “Chick Springs Drew Entrepreneurs for Nearly a Century,” Greenville News, July 13, 2005.
Flynn, Jean Martin. A Short History of Chick Springs. Travelers Rest, South Carolina: Loftis Printing Company, 1972.
Flynn, Jean Martin. An Account of Taylors, South Carolina, 1817-1994. Spartanburg: Reprint Company, 1995.
HisDevoutServant. “Chick Springs Historical Park,” YouTube Video, 04:27. March 30, 2008.
Mills, Robert. Statistics of South Carolina. Charleston, South Carolina: Hurlburt & Lloyd, 1826.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Hidden History of Greenville Water