building of the week – moor mud baths (grandview health resort)
Key Project Information
- Address: 500 Riverview Avenue, Waukesha WI
- Year Built: 1911
- National Register of Historic Places Designation: 1984
- Architectural Style: Neoclassical
- Historical Use: Resort/Health Spa
- Current Use: Waukesha County office building
Founded at the tail end of the Springs Era in 1911 by real estate agent John Weber, the resort was modeled after European mud baths to make use of the large area of black “moor” mud in the 200-acre property. The original health resort had 30 rooms and a springhouse. Weber even invented a couch for giving mud baths which would become an industry standard. The warm mud baths and spring water were considered therapeutic medical treatments. The hotel prospered and eventually grew to 200 rooms.
Image of the mud bath couches at Moor Mud Baths
In 1915 a golf course was added, which still operates today as Moor-Downs Gold Course. The hotel was sold in 1946, and the mud baths themselves finally closed in 1961 after losing interest to more “sophisticated” medical practices. In 1962 the hotel building became Mt. St. Paul College and a three-story brick structure was added to the east side of the original hotel. In 1972 the building transitioned into a County office building.
More recent image of the property
From 1925 to 1947 over 130,000 people received mud treatment at the resort. The Moor Mud Baths is recognized as the first and largest of several such spas in the City and remains as an example of the health resort industry spawned by the Springs Era.1 The entire site is a designated local landmark of the City of Waukesha, including the golf course, clubhouse, and springhouse.
1Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Grand View Health Resort (Moor Mud Baths), Waukesha, Waukesha County, Wisconsin, Reference Number: 16825. http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/