Exploring a Historic and Haunted Hotel The Preston Springs Hotel
This is the Historic and Haunted Preston Springs Hotel, and it has loomed over this corner for over 100 years. The now Abandoned Preston Springs Hotel was built on the sulfur springs welling up through the shale in the basement.
Built to be the luxury Del Monte Hotel in the 1890’s, it was “a beautiful four-storey brick and stucco structure, with all the modern conveniences and comforts of the largest city hotel.” The Del Monte drew guests to Preston for the fresh air and country vistas. It was around this time that Preston passed 2000 population, mainly German immigrants. The Del Monte stayed open until the 20’s. The Great War slowed down business, and the Hotel was sold to the brothers Dr. Gordon and Dr. Edwin Haigmeier. The Haigmeier family emphasized the healing properties of the mineral springs, and turned the hotel into a Sanitarium/Spa destination. They added an x-ray room and an operating room, and opened the Preston Springs Hotel. The Hotel was world renowned for its mineral baths, and celebrities who went to ‘take the waters’ included Lord Stanley, Lucy Maud Montgomery and Babe Ruth.
In 1942, The Preston Springs was sold to the Royal Canadian Navy, and was used as a home for the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service, since the WRCNS training centre, the HMCS Conestoga, was stationed in Galt. The Conestoga was the first female-commanded Canadian naval vessel. After the war, perhaps in the 60’s, it was a luxury barracks for female rubber factory workers.
In the 70s, a man named Alan Hodge took ownership of the building and it becomes Preston Springs Gardens Retirement Home. He took careful care of the beautiful old building, but health and safety issues shut him down in the year 1990. In the years to come, the old hotel sits vacant. Alan Hodge watches over the building nights from his car, but vandals know his car, and he can’t watch every night. The building is still vacant to this day. The interior is stripped bare, filled with the ragged remnants of abandoned renovation projects, attempted in 1999, 2006, 2012. Rumor has it that it’s haunted with the ghosts of abused and neglected retirement residents.
Preston Springs is not dead yet. The new roof has kept the bones of the hotel alive, protected from the elements. Deep in the basement, the air is cold. You can see your breath. The hairs on the nape of your neck stand up. Beneath your feet, beneath the floor, beneath the brittle shale, the healing mineral waters still bubble up.