Back in 1902 a guy decided it was a good idea to build a 200 foot wide dome.
Then he made that space into something that wowed the guests. Restored and improved, the Dome awaits your visit.
The West Baden Springs Hotel has a long and storied past.
In 1887 the Monon Railroad began service to French Lick and West Baden. The West Baden Springs Hotel grew up to serve them. By the late 1800s guests arrived from all over the country on seven different railroads. They came because they could relax the mind and body. Mineral water was thought to cure what ailed you. You could take sidewalks to any of the 7 springs for baths in these mineral springs.
In 1891 the Hotel burned and was rebuilt. The scale of the resort grew to include
- A casino
- An opera house
- A covered double deck ⅓ mile oval where they raced bicycles and ponies
- A lit Baseball field was in the middle of the track and many Pro Baseball teams held spring training then
In 1901 the Hotel burned again. This time they decided to build to a much grander scale. They would build a fireproof dome that would be the largest and grandest in the world. Not only that, but it would all be completed in a year! 500 men labored 6 days a week for 10 hours a day and 270 days later the West Baden Springs Hotel was born.
In 1902, the West Baden Springs Hotel completed. The Hotel boasted a 200-foot dome. This dome was the largest in the world and that was a super big deal! A bigger dome in the US was not built until 1955.
Hailed as the 8th wonder of the world, the West Baden Springs Hotel became the Disney World of its day. Just hop a train and go to the Carlsbad of America. Carlsbad is a spa city in the Czech Republic founded in 1370 and was widely known as the Spa Capital of the world. The marketing pitch was that the West Baden Springs Hotel was the Carlsbad of America! You can still see that on their entrance sign.
In the Early 1900’s the West Baden Springs Hotel was THE PLACE TO GO. In the dome they had live palm trees with birds flying around. They had 500 rooms that overlooked the atrium. The Fireplace burnt 14-foot logs. They even had a stock brokerage and bank on site.
Insert entrance sign.
Then cars came and people didn’t rely on trains anymore. Then came the 1929 stock market crash the great depression really hurt business.
In 1934 the whole thing was in disrepair and the Jesuits stepped in and bought it. The Jesuits didn’t like fancy things and they worked to make the whole place a bit plainer.
In 1966 the Jesuits sold the property which then got donated to the Northwood Institute. The Northwood Institue was a private college. The property was a satellite campus until 1983.
The property just sat there and rotted until 1992 when it started to collapse. $140,000 was spent to stabilize the structure until a buyer could be found.in 1996. Bill Cook was one of Indiana’s richest people. In 1996 a 30 month, 30 million dollar restoration began.
So finally in 1999, the West Baden Springs Hotel was opened again. Just the Atrium part was restored. The rooms were not dealt with at this time. The West Baden Dome was beautiful, but it floundered for 5 years and it was determined that the only way to save the Hotel was to attract a casino. The Hotel had always had a Casino and it only seemed fitting.
In 2003 Legislation was passed that allowed for the creation of the French Lick Casino. Donald Trump originally was granted that license, but Trump filed Bankruptcy which forced the gambling license process to begin again.
The Cook’s stepped up and applied for the license in 2005. This kicked off another round of restoration and building. Another 100 million was spent on the West Baden Springs Hotel. They built out 243 rooms. Half as many as before, but standards had changed in 75 years.
in June 2007, the West Baden Springs Hotel once again opened its doors for people to stay there. So now the West Baden Springs Hotel is better than ever and you can stay there!
It costs about 250 – 400 per night depending on whether you have an atrium view and room type.
French Lick is perfect for a Girl’s or Guys Getaway.
There is plenty to do all within a small compact area. Get your crew together and plan a trip to French Lick.