Hot Lake Hotel was originally built in 1864 in La Grande, Oregon during the gold rush. It resembled that of a shopping mall. Businesses located in the wooden structure included barber shop, dance hall, post office, blacksmith, and bath house. In 1903, the original building was demolished and construction began on a new brick hotel. Dr. William T. Phy first became involved in the project in 1904. Construction was completed in 1908 containing 100 guest rooms.
It became THE place for vacationers as the 205 degree sulfurous Hot Lake were thought to have healing properties. Phy bought the establishment in 1917 and turned it in to a state-of-the-art medical facility known as the Hotel Lake Sanatorium or the "Mayo Clinic of the West". It came equipped with medical wards, offices, and a kitchen/dance hall. The Mayo Brothers (founders of the Mayo Clinic) and Wild Bill Hickok and his Wild West Show also visited Hot Lake regularly. Prior owners and investors include Governor Walter M. Pierce and Senator Parish L. Willis. There Dr. Phy practice along side his son Marcus until his death in 1931 from pneumonia. Marcus committed suicide a couple of years later.
On May 7, 1934, a fire destroyed the ballroom and library and the wooden structures of the hotel. The remaining brick buildings survived. However, the hotel began to decline in business until the hospital on the third floor was the only functioning portion of the hotel. During World War II, a flight school and nurse training school was established on the property. It's use further declined when it was converted into a nursing home and asylum in 1953. In 1975, ownership switched hands and a nightclub and restaurant was opened, but only lasted for two years.
The same railroad that brought Hot Lake business was rerouted, the new highway bypassed it and the Depression further led to it being abandoned in 1991. It fell prey to vandals and the elements. David and Lee Manual purchased the hotel and began restoration in 2003. Although a slow progress, it re-opened as a 22-room bed and breakfast in 2010 complete with museum, art galley, spa, bronze foundry, and restaurant.
Witnesses have seen an apparition of a man in work clothes believed to be a former gardner who committed suicide. Other spirits seen are that of old vacationers and former patients from its sanatorium days. Some people have reported hearing music from the third floor where an old piano formerly owned by Robert E. Lee's wife use to be. Former caretakers have heard footsteps on the wheelchair ramp, crying and a screams from the old surgery room. Other reports include rocking chairs moving on their own, objects move, disappear and reappear, and equipment malfunctioning.
Hot Lake Springs