THE FIFTH PAVILION
The exact date of the building of the Vendome is not known. What is known is that it was in existence in 1906.
At that time there was no swimming pool or artesian well. In a letter dated November 6, 1907 to the Secretary of Interior, the park Superintendent, Col. Greene noted its location as being eight feet from the west boundary line of West Central Park (Flower Park today). He also mentions that is was an amusement center and dance hall. The Vendome got its name from a dance pavilion in Germany.
It is also not know positively if this first building was later torn down or incorporated into the complex that lasted for many years. Early photos of the Vendome show a building that does not resemble the building we all remember.
Visitors flocked to Sulphur by the thousands every week by train. The depots were just a block west of the Vendome and were the first building visitors encountered on their trip to Central Park and the Pavilion Springs.
The following story was related to Col. Greene by George Weems, President of the First State Bank of Sulphur.
In June of 1906 the Park Hotel was finally sold for $1,615. It was moved to the lot currently occupied by Lewis Motor Co. on Broadway across from the Vendome well.
Just as with most businesses in Sulphur the Park Hotel had no water. The Vendome well had not been drilled as yet so water was piped from an artesian well three blocks away and an artificial fountain made. The excess water was allowed to drain south directly into Rock Creek.
The proprietor of the Park Hotel asked Col. Swords if he could use the water in a spring that was just 80 yards from the hotel but inside the park boundary. He had to currently travel to the Pavilion Springs a quarter mile away to get water for his patrons.
The spring was not flowing very well because of years of neglect and disuse. Swords agreed to the request and a hole ten feet deep was dug to clean out the spring. The water recovered from the repaired spring was so minimal that it was no help for the hotel owner who eventually had to drill his own well in front of the Park Hotel. This was not the end of the story of the little spring.
It was decided by some of the local businessmen that a pavilion would be nice to have in the West Central Park area. They piped the water from the artificial well in front of the Vendome to the little spring and created and artificial spring. They built an 18 foot by 18 foot pavilion over it and poured a concrete floor which they tiled.
When Col. Greene became superintendent in 1907, he noted that the records showed that there were only four pavilion buildings. However, upon inspection, he found five pavilions and demanded to know here the Fifth Pavilion came from.
Upon closer inspection he found that the word "Vendome" was spelled out in the tile on the floor. There was a clay pipe mounted vertically on the floor where the water ran out and across the ground to a natural depression where it flowed to Rock Creek.
Col. Greene actually admitted to the Secretary in a report that the Vendome Pavilion, the Fifth Pavilion, although illegal, was the best built and maintained and was the most attractive of all the others in the park.
Here Col. Greene also noted that there were electric lights run to the little pavilion. He also reported that electric lights were run from First Street to the Pavilion Springs which was never approved by the Secretary of Interior. In fact the Secretary declined a request by Col. Swords the previous year because the project was too expensive.
It appears that the citizens of Sulphur footed the bill to light up the pavilions in an effort to draw the tourist during the late evening hours. All this without the knowledge or permission of the Secretary of Interior. This turned out to be another nail in the coffin of Col. Swords.
It is not known what became of the little pavilion.
© 2006 Dennis Muncrief