The Homestead

The golf resort and spa in Hot Springs, Virginia, known as the Homestead, has been host to visitors since 1766, including many presidents. Thomas Jefferson made the trek to the Allegheny Mountains to visit the springs in 1819, attempting to ease his rheumatism. He appears to have visited the baths at both Warm Springs, at the building at what is now called the Jefferson Pools, and Hot Springs while staying at the Homestead. Over the course of the nineteenth century, the Homestead became a grand hotel for visitors wanting to take the waters and escape the heat of America’s large cities.

In December of 1915, President Woodrow Wilson told his family that he had proposed to Edith Bolling Galt (his first wife having died the previous year), but things were kept very mysterious. And many of the preparations were left until the last minute. The couple married at Edith’s house on the eighteenth with just a small group of friends in attendance.

With the secrecy and the rush involved in putting the wedding together, perhaps it is no surprise, then, that the couple chose to honeymoon at the Homestead, just a short bit further down the Chesapeake and Ohio rail line from Wilson’s hometown of Staunton, Virginia. It is also true that both of them loved Virginia, and loved golf. Edith sent a happy Christmas telegram to her friend AGG, and then a longer note to her family the next day, describing the hotel’s Christmas decorations.

She describes how they spent the days of their honeymoon opening gifts from well-wishers, golfing, and horseback riding, though Woodrow often returned to his typewriter to prepare letters to friends old and new. When world events forced them to return to Washington in early January, the President’s doctor remarked on how well they both looked after their trip.

After a year of marriage, the couple did not have any sort of formal event to recognize their anniversary, but they did spend the morning playing a round of golf to celebrate according to the Washington papers.