Unitoga Spring House and Unity Springs were located three miles south of Newport village, in Unity, Sullivan County, New Hampshire. In the late 1800s Unity Springs became quite noted for its medical qualities. From several sources there were 10 actual springs within a general vicinity where two hotels were built to attract and accommodate health-seeking visitors.
Reportedly also at one time called “Iron Springs,” these waters were highly charged with salts of iron, and possessed tonic properties. This “long-lost spa” included a 60-room house which reportedly provided relief for ladies and men who suffered from “gravel” (aka kidney stones), invalids, and lovers of recreation.
In the spring of 1874 Wyman Henry Merritt became the proprietor of the Unitoga Springs House, Newport, N. H. In 1875 L.R. Miller was the proprietor [see ad]. In 1875 Moses Fairbanks & Co., were distributors of “summer beverages” including Belfast Ginger Ale and Unitoga Spring Water. By July 1877 Moses Fairbanks & Co, Boston were the proprietors. In 1879 G.S. Heaton was leasing Unitoga Springs House.
By 1881 For Sale–Unitoga Springs house and about 76 acres of land; will sell the hotel separately if desired possession given on or after Sept. 15. Apply to Moses Fairbanks & Co., Howard Street Boston.
By 1889 the Upton Brothers of Newport NH were listed as the owners. The structure burned to the ground in 1892, and was soon forgotten, except to local residents.
The History of Newport NH states: “Benjamin Teall, the old schoolmaster, who lived on the Unity road, was sort of a poet laureate to the old Republican party, of which he was an enthusiastic member. He was a Revolutionary patriot, and at ninety years of age wrote many beautiful poems, which were published. He was the discoverer of Unity Springs, now so justly celebrated, and built there a little shelter, where he spent much of his time during the summer months, and where he composed many of his poems.”
“Newport has two mineral springs. The one on the farm of Mr. Harmon Richardson, between Northville and Kelleyville, and between Sugar river and the railroad has been long and favorably known for its medicinal virtues, and has often been resorted to, especially in the cases of poisoning and bad conditions of the blood. When first discovered, it was protected by a large flat rock; and other evidences showed that it was known and appreciated by the aborigines. The rock was once dug up by an enthusiastic youth, in the expectation of finding a treasure hidden beneath it. The other spring, situated just north of it, on the farm of Mr. Augustus Wylie, was discovered at a later period, and is claimed to be fully equal to the former in its beneficent qualities. The springs were both purchased in 1874 by Hazen P. Huntoon, M.D. of Boston, with the view of providing suitable hotel accommodations for such as might wish to resort to them, and who has had the water carefully analyzed.”
At one time “more than a thousand persons” spent their summers at one of the two hotels in town, to enjoy the mineral springs here.
Unity Springs was not the only New Hampshire town that adapted mineral springs for commercial use, or within a resort. Other notes Springs and Spas were found at Walpole (Abenaquis Spring), Amherst (Amherst Soda Springs and Amherst Mineral Spring), Charleston (Charleston Springs), Milford (Ponemah Springs), Moultonborough (Moultonborough Mineral Spring), Pittsfield (Sulph-chalybeate Spring), Conway (White Mountain Mineral Spring), Goffstown (Yocum Spring), and Temple (Pack Monadnock Lithia Spring). [Editor’s note: to this list I add Birch-Dale Spring in Concord NH where Doctors Robert & Lucinda Hall kept a sanitarium. ALSO thanks to Jean Williams who says that there is a spring in Bradford, New Hampshire.]
Today New Hampshire’s spa history continues in a slightly different manner, with the presence of combined elegant hotels/spas such as Mountain View Grand Hotel Resort & Spa, Wentworth by the Sea Hotel and Spa, and Christmas Farm Inn & Spa.
[Editor’s note: this article was updated 26 October 2014, and 12 August 2018]