“A remarkable luxury experience.”
West Baden Springs Hotel is anything but ordinary—it is an extraordinary experience. You will be captivated once you step foot inside this National Historic Landmark (NHL) built in 1902. With its one-of-a-kind domed atrium spanning 200 feet, it has been called the "Eighth Wonder of the World." Rooms rise in six tiers around the dome, and balcony rooms provide a panoramic view of the atrium.
Not only is the hotel one of the most stunning buildings in America, it's reportedly one of the most haunted. From tales of spirits wandering the halls, to disembodied voices, to hotel guests being poked and prodded by invisible beings, the tales of ghosts are plenty at the West Baden Springs Hotel.
The new structure opened September 15, 1902 to rave reviews, and advertisements called it the Eighth Wonder of the World. The resort's mineral water and baths were alleged to cure almost anything, and the hotel's amenities included a casino, live theater every night, opera, concerts, movies, bowling and billiards. Outside the hotel, guests had their choice of a natatorium, two golf courses, bicycling on a double-decked covered oval bicycle track that was the largest in the country at 1,760 feet, horseback riding, baseball, and several picturesque hiking trails. To cater to their well-heeled clientele, the hotel provided a bank and a stock brokerage. A trolley transported guests from the hotel's front door to nearby French Lick. Palm trees grew in the huge atrium where birds had free range and guests relaxed on overstuffed furniture grouped in clusters under the 200-foot dome. The fireplace in the atrium was enormous in scale and could accommodate logs as long as 14 feet.
Some early advertisements claimed over 700 rooms, but most sources today cite around 500. The main building contained six floors: the ground floor held the lobby, hotel management offices, the dining area, shops and meeting rooms; saunas and mineral baths were located on the top floor; guest rooms were built in two concentric circles around the atrium on the second through fifth floors. Rooms on the inner ring overlooked the atrium; forty 4th and 6th floor rooms had balconies into the atrium. The hotel rooms were small by today's standards. Most rooms had one or two twin beds, and did not have a private bathroom.
Chris Bundy, who authored the book, West Baden Springs: Legacy of Dreams stated, "These hotels were the Disney World of their time. In those days, it was assumed that if you could afford to come to America [for vacation], you would go to French Lick. It was that well-known overseas."
Beginning in the late 1880s, southern Indiana was a favorite destination of the wealthy, famous, infamous, and near-famous who would relax, golf, gamble, enjoy fine dining, and be entertained.
Paul Dresser composed Indiana's state song "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away" at the hotel. Boxers John L. Sullivan and James J. Corbett trained there. Al Capone and his bodyguards were frequent guests as was Diamond Jim Brady. Politicians included Mayor "Big Bill" Thompson of Chicago and New York Governor Al Smith; also General John J. Pershing, writer George Ade, and entertainer Eva Tanguay. Professional baseball teams even held their spring training in the region: Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Browns and St. Louis Cardinals.
I live about an hour from West Baden and this hotel is truly a must see. One of the tour highlights is laying on the floor beneath the middle of the dome. The view is phenomenal!
I lived about 30 minutes from here for most of my life. It truly is a beautiful sight. Especially when it is decorated for Christmas.
In a state of decay for many years the place is now back in all its glory. If there's one architectural wonder to see in all of southern Indiana this is it. It's hard to believe something this majestic is just plopped down in rural Indiana. It's a perfect weekend escape.
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West Baden Springs Hotel
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