During our May trip to French Lick, Indiana, Todd and I were able to explore both the historic French Lick Springs resort and neighbouring West Baden Springs Hotel. The story of West Baden is fascinating, including a long history of uses from health spa to seminary, to wartime hospital, to liberal arts collage, to near ruin, and back to a restored haven of luxury and relaxation. Famous returning guests at the time included presidents, movies stars, wealthy american families like the Vanderbilts, and notorious gangster Al Capone. The dome which creates a central courtyard is encircled by individual suits. It's construction was considered an architectural feat at the time and was declared the largest free spanning dome in the world from 1902 to 1913 and remained unrivalled within North America until 1955. Large enough to hold a circus (including elephants) it's something to behold! Here are some photos we took of our tour around West Baden Springs Hotel.
The day could not have been more pleasant, so the tour started in the expansive garden. Natural spring wells once dominated the landscape, housed under a number of beautifully designed structures. Most of the springs have been covered up and buildings burnt or demolished over the properties history. Still standing, one building housing a spring which was filled in was used as a small chapel during seminary years. It received the most beautiful light through it's large stained glass window. On the far side of the property, a private cemetery resides for 39 Jesuit priests who were buried there.
It's no wonder this West Baden Springs Hotel was advertised as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Here you would find mineral springs supplying water said to cure nearly anything that ails you (really just a lot of sulphur and trace amounts of Lithium), green rolling hills, flourishing foliage, and a jaw dropping dome soaring above. If you're ever visiting southern Indiana, visitors can take a historical walking tour of the hotel. I highly recommend it on a nice sunny day, with added time to grab a nice cool drink in the atrium under that soaring dome.