While most people flocked to Titusville due to oil, there was also a little known gusher of another valuable kind just east of Titusville up the hill. In 1906, Dr. S.N. Burchfield capitalized on this other valuable substance that was springing out of the earth. What was it, you ask? Water!
In 1905, Burchfield came to the Titusville area to pioneer a kind of hotel very popular at the time called a sanitarium. Today, we would classify most of these dwellings as health resorts. Burchfield paid an enormous undisclosed sum to build the great estate he would name Fieldmore Springs. Supposedly using all native stone and brick, the massive building was constructed in 1906 beside man-made ponds and lakes to beautify the grounds. The hotel/sanitarium/health resort was ready-made for patrons as it was located conveniently on the trolley car line to Titusville.
“The erection of the hotel was made possible by the discovery of a vein of perfect drinking water. About five years ago  oil well drillers tapped a subterranean river which flowed through the casing from a depth of about a hundred feet. The water has been submitted to several analyses. It is pronounced perfect in every respect. It is believed and in fact known to contain curative agents for many diseases, especially those of the stomach and kidneys,” wrote the Titusville Herald in June 1907. The hotel was designed to appeal to “overworked men and women of Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Cleveland, and elsewhere who wish a quiet, wholesome place to spend a few weeks.”
Fieldmore Springs opened on Saturday, June 15, 1907 to great acclaim. Between 800 and 1,000 people toured the hotel and experienced the ornate decoration and furnishings. The front hall was connected to a parlor and led up to a dining room on the second floor. Each room was adorned with hardwood floors, modern ventilation, and open balconies with beautiful views. The building even had an elevator that reached every floor and a telephone in each room!
The hotel stood five stories tall and boasted seventy-five suites that could house between 100 and 150 guests. The first managers were Mr. and Mrs. W. Crosby who helped excitedly greet guests on opening day. The Titusville Herald described how, “The hotel is approached from the street railway line by a wide cement walk, boarded by potted plants and flowers and dividing at the near approach of the structure to accommodate a fine fountain twenty feet in diameter.” The fountain was stocked with twenty large trout and a stream was used to create several miniature lakes and waterfalls.
In addition to its green spaces, the health resort also featured a bowling alley, billiards, a grill and bar, farm, and greenhouse. Surrounding the resort was 100 acres of pine and hemlock forest, allowing the sick to be enveloped by fresh air and healing waters. The Titusville Herald proclaimed that, “There is no more beautiful spot in the foothills of the Alleghenies than Fieldmore.”
Immediately after opening, Fieldmore Springs began not only accepting patients, but hosting parties and club meetings. The Titusville Woman’s Club held their meeting at the hotel that very week. In 1908, a huge gala was hosted at the site for oilman Joseph Seep’s 70th birthday, garnering attention from all over the region.
Fieldmore Springs continued on successfully for many years until Judge Criswell declared Venango County dry in April 1914. Because a good portion of Fieldmore Springs’s business was dependent upon liquor sales, this proclamation, followed by more than a decade of Prohibition, negatively impacted the hotel.
Eventually, the building and land was sold to the Bashline-Shrum Osteopathic Clinic in 1941. Dr. M.F. Bashline and his wife, nurse Alberta Shrum Bashline, lived at the clinic and offered “minor surgery, plasmatic therapy, octozone therapy, needle surgery, care for hemorrhoids, hernias, and colonic irrigations.”
Unfortunately, on January 22, 1947, the coldest morning of the winter, the building caught fire and burned to the ground. All six patients were evacuated safely, but the building was badly hurt. The ponds that normally would have quelled the fire had run dry and it turned out that the building was built from entirely wood, the brick only being a veneer. Dr. Bashline temporarily relocated to 277 East Main Street until clinic was rebuilt at the original location. Bashline and his wife moved back to the rebuilt clinic in mid-December 1947.
Over the next half century the land was used a variety of ways. In 1951, Titusville residents purchased the 100-plus acres near the clinic in hopes of using the land for public recreation such as camping, horseback riding, and a game preserve but struggled financially. From the 1950s through the 1960s it was the Bashline Rest Home and in 1972 became the Paradise Valley Home. The property changed hands in 1974, becoming Titusville Dry Goods. In March 1994, Connie Phillips purchased what was left of the buildings and created the Fieldmore Springs Antique Emporium. Antiques were showcased in former patient rooms and operating areas. This business was active until September 2005 when it closed.
Staying at the Fieldmore Springs in its early years was a working person’s respite from the hardships of the world. For two dollars a day (fifty-three dollars today), a person could rent a room and relax with the cooling mineral water of the springs and lazily gaze out onto the impeccably landscaped grounds. As you drive by, imagine at as it used to be: a much longed-for rest stop for the weary in the heart of the Pennsylvania Oil Region.