Bath House Hotel was to have been city's star attraction

While doing some research the other day, I came across the name of a hotel that I had never heard of before. This is probably due to the fact that there is very little information to be found about the Bath House Hotel. 

Known as the old Bath House, it was one of the most noted early hotels in Niagara Falls on the Canadian side of the river. The hotel was located on the south side of the Murray Street ravine, not far from the western boundary of Queen Victoria Park.  The Bath House was built by the City of the Falls Company in the early 1830s and it was intended to be a star attraction for the proposed “City of the Falls” development. The Bath House can clearly be seen in some of the old sketches of the Falls showing Terrapin Tower dating back to 1836. 

I am sure that most of us can guess how the hotel got its name. In spite of the tremendous volume of water flowing over the Falls, there was no safe place for tourists to bathe. Developers also touted the many health benefits of the healing waters of the mighty Niagara River. Several massive zinc bath tubs were located in the basement of the hotel, and plans were made to heat both the rooms and the bath water. 

The City of the Falls Company now began the difficult and costly task of providing a water supply for the hotel. A waterworks pump house was built on Table Rock that was to be operated by a water wheel. Wooden pipes were laid from the pump house to a large water tank. Unfortunately, this is when the trouble started. The very first time that the pumping started, the pressure was too great and the pipes burst. Unfortunately, the system was never repaired and the many tubs at the Bath House Hotel were never filled with water. 

The Bath House hotel was put to various uses through the years. At one time, it was a boarding school for girls and sources say that servants at the school used the huge tubs for beds after filling them with bundles of straw.  During the Rebellion of 1837-1838, it was used as a barracks for the soldiers. During this military occupation, an infamous “black hole” was constructed in the basement to be used for the punishment of insubordinate soldiers. 

After being used as a residence for a short time by Saul Davis (who built the original Table Rock House), the building stood idle and became more dilapidated as time went by. Although the exact date is not known, the hotel was eventually destroyed by fire, a fate shared by so many of the city’s early landmarks. 

Cathy Roy is the Local History Librarian

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