Wednesday, April 23, 2014
We arrived at our destination, Sweet Springs, after a pleasant drive along the West Virginia Roads. Sweet Springs originally opened as a health resort in 1833. It has an interesting history prior to that date that you can read more on by clicking on this link. The Sweet Springs Resort was later known as a sanatorium, hospital, and towards the end of its active life, a nursing home and drug treatment center.
When we arrived at the complex the first thing we noticed were No Trespassing signs everywhere. Luckily for us there was a fellow on the grounds loading fallen tree branches onto his pick-up truck. We thought we would go over to him and ask if it would be all right if we walked around to take a couple of photos. I suggested my friends do all the talking so my Yankee accent wouldn't get in our way. He was quite a nice guy and said sure, but warned us not to go into any of the buildings as they were in disrepair and dangerous.
After he gave us the okay I was able to open my mouth so I asked what had happened to the property. In a nutshell...it's in foreclosure. I asked how much was owed on it and he said millions of tax dollars, was it 20? I don't remember exactly, but it was out of our league. He said the current property owner had big plans to restore the deteriorated resort, but had made a major mistake of having the property re-zoned from agriculture, which had little taxes associated with it, to commercial which increased the tax burden enormously. Apparently the new owner, who did not come from these parts also did not realize that in West Virginia the two zoning tax rates were miles apart. In fact, he said most folks want their property designated agriculture, and all it takes is one chicken on the property to decrease the tax burden.
The fellow said he lived in the area and felt a bond to the property and that's why he takes it upon himself to keep the grounds as clean as possible, without getting paid. We thanked him and bade him farewell and set off to explore. After a couple of shots my camera battery died, as did my digital recorder. Well, the digital recorder was dead when I turned it on, yet when I was home it informed me "battery is high." One of my friends had a digital recorder going as we walked around, just in case.
Sweet Springs must have been quite remarkable at one time...such a shame it's gotten to this point.