The Windsor Spring Water Company was established in 1905 by William H.T. Walker, Jr., son of Confederate Major-General W. H. T. Walker, killed during the Civil War in the Battle of Atlanta, and grandson of prominent United States senator and Augusta’s first mayor, Freeman Walker. Although the Company was established in 1905, the spring itself was allegedly named for Windsor, England by British soldiers encamped in the area during the American Revolution. In the mid 1800s, Valentine Walker, brother of Freeman, built Seclusaval on the grounds, which in 1988 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1907, the Greek Revival home became the dwelling of George M. Clarke, his wife, Fannie Perrin Clarke, and their children, Ella Irene, Frances Louise, Minnie Leticia and George Miller, Jr. Walker and Clarke were business partners until 1920, when Walker sold his portion of the business to Clarke.
Under the ownership of the Clarke family, the Windsor Spring Water Company boomed, providing not only Augusta, but Savannah, Charleston and Aiken with the “purest water the earth affords.” 15,000 gallons flowed from the spring daily, and was advertised in 1909 as “containing less solid matter per gallon than the celebrated Poland Spring Water” of Maine. Promotional material published in the early twentieth century provides testimonials from scientists and doctors attesting to the water’s “exceptional purity”, its beneficial use in the treatment of a number of health disorders, including, “indigestion, dyspepsia, biliousness, malaria, chills and fever, lumbago, neuralgia, and rheumatism.” The spring water, which at the time was said to flow from an unknown source, was also a favorite of President William H. Taft, who reportedly traveled with a dozen five gallon bottles on both of his visits to the Panama Canal during its construction.
George M. Clarke died in December of 1933, and his wife, Fannie Perrin Clarke took over the business, and single-handedly saved it from ruin. Clarke’s death occurred in the midst of the Depression, at which time the family became unable to pay off a mortgage of $15,000.00 Clarke had taken out on the property in 1925. With Windsor Spring Water Company and Seclusive Val in jeopardy, Mrs. Clarke traveled to Warm Springs, Georgia where President Franklin D. Roosevelt was seeking treatment at the time for infantile paralysis, and met with Presidential Secretary, Marvin H. McIntyre. During the visit, she secured a homeowners loan, and was able to pay off the mortgage and save the business. Fannie Perrin Clarke operated The Windsor Spring Water Company until her death in 1961, when her daughter Ella Clarke Nuite took over the Company, and continued bottling spring water by hand well into her eighties. Mrs. Ella Clarke Nuite died on June 15, 2007 at the age of 103, her long life surely a testament to the purity of Windsor Spring waters. The century old business closed upon her death.
Pictured are Ella Clarke Nuite, nee’ Ella Irene Clarke, and her brother George Miller Clarke, Jr. The photograph was taken by a private photographer hired by Mr. Clarke. The setting is the original springhouse, built from locally quarried rockd by Paul Fitzsimons, then owner of Windsor Spring. This image is included in an exhibit of historic photographs on loan from the Augusta Chronicle to the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library through the month of September.
The Windsor Spring Water Company memorabilia was graciously donated to the Georgia Heritage Room by Charlotte Nuite Kitchen, daughter of Ella Clarke Nuite.