Before the War Between the States, Fauquier White Sulphur Springs near Warrenton, VA was the most celebrated mineral water resort in the country. In the late 18th century, Captain Hancock Lee built a lodge near the sulphur water spring on the Rappahannock River. The location of the Springs was fortunate, as it was just a one-day stage coach ride from Washington, D.C., making it accessible to the entire Atlantic seaboard which was already served by railroads. Southern plantation owners would spend a month or two each summer with their families at "The Springs." The fame of the sulphur waters and their miraculous healing properties for all sorts of ailments spread and people began to flock to the Springs.
In the 1830s, Lee's son and a business partner purchased additional land totaling 3,000 acres and built a grand hotel, a semicircle of 16 cottages, a spring house and a variety of other buildings, walks and fountains to accommodate the growing number of visitors. The grand hotel, known as the Pavilion, stood four stories high with majestic columns, a large dining room that would seat 400 guests and a 4,000 square foot ballroom that would host the finest orchestras in the country. Horse racing, medieval style jousting tournaments, fox hunting, bowling, billiards, cards, and fancy dress balls were all provided for the entertainment of guests, including many celebrities of the time including Chief Justice John Marshall and Presidents James Monroe, James Madison and Martin Van Buren. To escape a cholera outbreak in Richmond in 1849, the Virginia Legislature moved their entire operations to The Springs. The famous Dred Scott Decision was written at the Springs by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney during the summer of 1856.
The Warrenton House (originally a tavern and now a private residence) and the Monroe Cottage (originally one of the 16 semi-circle cottages and now a guest cottage for the Country Club) still stand on the property and look the same today as they likely did in the resort's heyday. The original Springs source is marked by a foundation where a gazebo stood until it was destroyed by storms in 2009. The exposed brick walkway is part of the original path built between the Pavilion and the spring.