Highland News Leader

Learn history of Diamond Mineral Springs at dinner fundraiser

The Madison County Historical Society (MCHS) has announced that the historic Diamond Mineral Springs Restaurant in Grantfork will be the location of the 2016 “Dining in History” event. Although anyone can dine at the Diamond Mineral Springs Restaurant, they can’t have the experience that MCHS guests will enjoy on Sunday, Nov. 6.

Participants who opt to arrive early will be given a short walking tour of the grounds, as well as a tour of the historic “Pie House,” built for the Stephen Bardill family in the late 1860s. The walk will show guests the “lay of the land,” so they can imagine what was there a century ago, when guests stayed at either the Windsor Hotel or one of the cottages on the property. Visitors a century ago were treated to mineral baths purported to improve their health, dining, dancing, picnics and even hay rides through the rural area. There were boats on a man-made lake (still on the property), bowling parties, and strolls through elaborate gardens. The tour will be over a mowed lawn, but surfaces could be uneven, so appropriate footwear is recommended.

The house, which sits at the entrance to the grounds, was in such a state of disrepair when the Michael family purchased the property in 1979 that many would have torn it down. Fortunately, the family’s love of history took that option off the table. They brought it back to a condition where, for many years, it provided restaurant offices and a pie bakery for the restaurant’s famous “Foot-Hi Pies.” Twelve years ago, their son, Gaylen, and his wife, Amy, moved into the house. They have gradually renovated and restored the building, keeping the spirit and character of the original architecture while using creativity and skill to turn it into a very special home for 21st century residents.

The “Pie House,” the restaurant with attached ballroom, and one of the former cottages are the only buildings remaining on the historic property that was once a popular summer resort and health spa.

After the tour, guests will dine family style, as has been the tradition at the Diamond Mineral Springs for over a century, and will, of course, enjoy a delicious slice of pie. Dinner will be served in the former ballroom to the sounds of old-time fiddle music by the musicians of the band Three Crooked Men.

After dinner, there will be a program on the experience of visiting a mineral spa a century ago. Did the mineral water have curative powers? Was the experience only for the wealthy? How did St. Louis guests travel to the hotel? These questions and more will be answered during a program by local historian Cindy Reinhardt.

How to get tickets

Cost: Advanced reservations are $35 for MCHS members and $40 for non-members.

Deadline to order: The deadline for ordering is Nov. 1.

How to make reservations: For telephone reservations, call the Madison County Archival Library at (618) 656-7569 (credit card payment available at the library). Reservation forms are also available at the library or under “events” on the MCHS website, madcohistory.org. Guests are asked to indicate on the reservation form whether they will be taking the walking/house tours.