Bath County’s Jefferson Pools restoration remains on hold in the age of COVID

Published: Dec. 23, 2020 at 4:38 PM EST
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BATH COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Local preservationists have long expressed concern for the Jefferson Pools and the historic bath houses that surround the hot springs there. They have drawn visitors for hundreds of years, but were condemned and closed because of the decay of the buildings.

These days, the holes in the roof have just gotten bigger.

“People were getting hit on the head by shingles falling off the roof just before they closed them,” remembered Bill Jones of Preservation Bath.

And the walls and windows are a little more broken, but Bath County preservationists like Jones are hopeful that renovation plans for the Jefferson Pools might take a step forward with a request for tax funds by the Omni Homestead resort.

“That’s their money that they’ve put into this fund that the county administers,” said Tom Richardson, a member of the county’s Economic Development Advisory Board, as well as Preservation Bath. “Now at certain milestones of funding, they can request reimbursement for that, and that’s exactly what they’ve done.”

However, back at the main hotel, they say there are a lot of priorities besides the pools.

“Omni is committed to renovating the resort and to repairing and restoring the bath houses,” said Lynn Swann, The Omni Homestead’s director of marketing. “But at this time the company’s focus is on operating all of its hotels and resorts in an efficient and responsible manner.”

Meaning there still isn’t a set start date for work.

But the preservationists remain hopeful.

“They certainly have to do what’s important for their corporation,” Richardson said. “But I really think they’re thinking with a lot of different hats on and they’re trying to act in the best interests of the community as well.”

“Omni is ready and would like to start all of the projects at the Homestead including the Jefferson Pools immediately, but they have to manage their cash flow like all other impacted businesses,” said Swann. “But they do want to start these projects as soon as possible.”

Eventually bringing the designs and renderings they released in February to life.

“If they get them open, I’ll be here, soaking away,” promised Jones.

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