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  • Ryan Connelly

The Mystery of the European Health Spa

The Edgemont campus is a weird place. If you stand on home plate of the baseball field, to your right would be a graveyard, to your left a convent of sacred soap selling sisters sworn to silence surrounded by slanderous segregation scandals, and directly behind you, strangest of all, would be an abandoned European health spa from the 60s. Comprised of two overgrown concrete discs covered in graffiti, the spa looms over the neighboring bus stop. At its front stands a statue of the titan Atlas, holding up the remains of a long deteriorated globe, surrounded by several towering stone pillars. The building itself curves outwards from a circular base leading into a grand rotunda, covered in boarded-up windows and filled with weeds.

Almost nobody can remember a time when the spa wasn’t like this, abandoned and nearly forgotten; after all it hasn’t been operational since the 90s. However, when it was open, the spa would have been a sight to behold, featuring a pool, scandinavian ice plunge (ice bath), and even a four hundred pound tiger named Tuffy (who was moved to the Brownsville Zoo because of his cramped enclosure).

The spa was built in 1968 and leased out to a variety of owners. It belonged to the “Godfather of Fitness” Jack LaLanne and later the health club “Bally Total Fitness”, which closed the location shortly after signing a 10 year contract in 1992. Ever since then the spa has been unoccupied, save for the occasional graffiti artist. The owner of the property, Dennis Dilmaghani (who also owns the Persian rug store next door), did have a tenant lined up to rent in 2002 but by then the property was in a “seriously deteriorated condition” and would have cost upwards of $100,000 to repair.

As it stands, the spa has been abandoned for nearly thirty years, and one can only wonder what will happen to it in the future. Given that Dennis Dilmaghani did not provide a comment when asked that very question, we can only speculate. However, it seems that only two realistic possibilities exist. Dilmaghani could sell the property, which was assessed to be worth around 2.6 million dollars. However, to do so would require the spa to be torn down; a process that would likely be extremely costly, especially given environmental concerns.

It’s far more likely that Dilmaghani will continue to do what he has done for the past three decades, let the building rot. That might actually be the best option. To many in Edgemont the spa is an eyesore, but it’s beautiful in a twisted way, or at the very least unique. It’s iconic, like the nearby, and if it were torn down it would invariably be replaced by something infinitely less interesting. The abandoned European Health Spa is a refreshing island of oddness in an otherwise trendy town.


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