Bedford Alum Springs Hotel
The property site of the hotel had a history in New London before the building of the hotel. It was originally owned by the Colonel James Callaway who was a patriot in the Revolutionary War and an influential man in Virginia during his life time (1735-1809). Because of Colonel Callaway’s reputation and the amount of other buildings that are known to have been on site, the property that the hotel sits on is a suspected spot for the revolutionary arsenal that was kept at New London, though there has yet to be any substantial evidence to support this theory.
Mead’s Tavern and the hotel property are connect as the man who ran the Roland Academy girls school located at Mead’s, Samuel Miller, acquired the hotel property. The property passed to one more owner, a Ralph Smith, before being bought by Peregrine Echols in 1833. Bedford Alum Springs Hotel was originally a tavern owned by Peregrine Echols.
Echols was also the first person in New London to capitalize on the natural alum springs that were located a short walk away from his property by bottling and selling the water for medicinal uses. The hotel was given the name The Bedford Alum Springs Hotel and was promoted as a resort, attracting travelers who sought the benefit of the nearby alum springs.
The success of the alum springs prompted the town to change its name from New London to Bedford Springs. In 1871, a fire burned down the original building. In 1877, the property that held Echols tavern was sold to John Maben who proceeded to build a large hotel. That building was burned in another fire in 1887. The hotel was rebuilt again, only to burn once more in 1902. The third rebuilt version of the hotel is what stands today. The historic site was bought by Liberty University in 2018. Liberty has plans of archaeological and architectural investigations for the hotel and property.