Monday, March 28, 2016

Henry Elebeck's Bathing Saloon


Similar to a number of the free black barbers that I located in Kentucky, Petersburg's Henry Elebeck offered bathing opportunities to his customers in addition to his hair cutting and shaving services.

From 6:30 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. "citizens of Petersburg and the public in general" could bathe at Elebeck's establishment at the Merchants' Exchange building on Bank Street. Baths were offered in cold, hot, or tepid water for $.25, or one could get what appeared to be a combination of temperatures for $.37 1/2.

Barbers typically offered these types of services in effort to generate additional streams of revenue. Baths and showers were not yet common in many antebellum homes, and since Elebeck offered them as such an early hour, and late into the evening, patrons could partake in the hygienic practice outside of business hours and at their convenience. I wonder if Elebeck offered bathing services seven days a week, or just on weekdays.

Ever the entrepreneur, and in addition to baths, Elebeck concluded his advertisement with a note that he had "on hand, a large supply of Eau de Costral, an excellent tonic for the hair."

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