The Warm Springs Pools. Courtesy of the Omni Homestead Resort.

Crews working to restore a pair of historic bath houses at the Omni Homestead Resort in Bath County have discovered even more damage than they’d expected, but plans are still on track to reopen the buildings this year, officials said Tuesday.

The Warm Springs Pools, formerly known as the Jefferson Pools, have long been a draw for visitors but were closed five years ago after the bath houses were deemed unsafe.

Work began last year to restore the men’s and women’s bath houses, which date to 1761 and 1836 respectively, according to a history on the resort’s website. 

Structural repairs to the men’s building are nearing completion, project officials said Tuesday. The walls of the women’s building have been shored up to stabilize it while work is being done. 

But the work done to date has uncovered more problems, said Ed Pillsbury, architect and principal at 3North of Richmond.

“While we knew the structures were in poor condition, we discovered that everything was in considerably worse condition than we estimated,” he said in a statement. 

That includes the wall and roof framing, he said, as well as the foundations. The existing framing of the roof of the ladies’ bathhouse “crumbled to dust” as shoring was put in place, he said.

The process to rebuild the bath houses has been “very intricate,” he said. Crews have tried to preserve as much of the original structures as possible, he said.

Sam Lionberger, CEO of Roanoke-based Lionberger Construction, said the project remains on track for a reopening later this year. 

The project will cost an estimated $3 million, according to Lynn Swann, director of marketing and communications at the Homestead.

The renovation of the bath houses is happening alongside a $120 million, top-to-bottom makeover of the Homestead that Omni announced last fall. At the time, it was called the largest rehabilitation tax credit project in the history of Virginia. 

The project will freshen the resort’s 483 guest rooms and public spaces and address the exterior of the aging buildings, from fixing brickwork to restoring the original wood windows. Several new structures also will be constructed: a 4,000-square-foot event pavilion and a building in downtown Hot Springs to house employees.

When the project was announced, officials said the work would be completed in time for the resort’s 2023 summer season.

Megan Schnabel

Megan Schnabel is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach her at megan@cardinalnews.org.