Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Eighth Wonder of the World

It was a fact finding mission. Yeah, that's what we'll call it. A two-fold research project. I spent this past weekend traipsing through the southern part of the state. Primarily to see the Eighth Wonder of the World also known as the Carlsbad of America, the West Baden Springs Hotel. Built in 1902 the hotel’s atrium was the largest free-span dome until the Houston Astrodome was constructed in the 1960's. 

With the reputation of the Eighth Wonder of the World, ads claimed the resort's mineral baths and drinking waters could cure everything from sterility to senility.

Two million tiny pieces of mosaic tile line the floor. 

You could spend hours just looking at the floor. 

But if you look up you see amazing things there as well. Forty rooms with balconies line the atrium.

The decorative painting is phenomenal.

But really I am getting ahead of myself. In order to get to the atrium you first have to arrive at the hotel via a long tree-lined brick lane.

The lane leads you to the lobby which is surrounded with covered porches.

Here you can rock away enjoying your beverage of choice while you watch the rich and famous arrive and depart.

You can also look out onto the sunken garden.

The lobby entrance is noted with an inlaid family crest.

The lobby was designed to warm a guest up to the idea of a grand space. Just look at all that tile.

Since this was the Eighth Wonder of the World they didn't want to blow peoples minds too quickly by entering the atrium directly. The lobby was used as a social hall where victorian men and women could co-mingle.

Of course, as was the fashion, the sexes also had their private spaces. The men had a lovely library. 

On the other side of the lobby the ladies had a beautiful sitting room which the hotel now uses for small gatherings, you know, in case you don't want to rent the entire atrium for 5,000 of your closest friends. 

The entire hotel is a circle built around the atrium, the lower level is used primarily for rented meeting spaces like this or some lovely shops and restaurants. Even the old barber shop boasts it's original tile and marble shoe-shine stand where hotel artifacts are on display. The stick with the glass is what the Rockefeller's and their friends used to dip into the springs to "take the waters," which we now know was laden with lithium and also worked as a laxative.

During the restoration project the beautiful stairways were relieved of some of their workload when elevators were installed to help guests reach their rooms.

The newly remodeled 247 rooms are done beautifully. 

Historically decorated but with all the latest amenities. 

No expense was spared on the renovation. They even went so far as to have custom furniture made with the hotel image inlaid. 

It is hard for me to believe that this grand hotel once sold for $1.00 after the great depression! Thank goodness Indiana Landmarks came together with the Bill and Gayle Cook family and were able to bring it back to life. I know for sure I will go back again to sip another drink on that porch and maybe hit the spa for a facial. You know, in the name of historical research.


Judy said...

My husband's favorite place. What a unexpected, beautiful place!

Michelle said...

I must live under a rock to have never heard of this amazing place! It reminds me of the Davenport in Spokane, only architecturally far more notable. Thanks for sharing!

Now I know that if I ever make it to Indiana I'll have to make time for more than sheep and blogpals....

Mad Red Hare said...

I love this place. I am so glad it is still here for people to enjoy!

Willow said...

How simply gorgeous !

Muffy's Marks said...

What luxury, I'm not sure I would know how to act. It is absolutely gorgeous!!!

Susie Q said...

Thanks Christine for sharing such a fantastic place with us. I can just imagine Scarlett O'Hara coming out of the building. The windows over the atrium remind me of the airport in Orlando which has the hotel rooms looking onto the arrivals area. Susie x

thecrazysheeplady said...


Lynda said...

It is totally mind-boggling that someone can even dream up such a place of grandeur. The cost of building and renovating had to be astronomical, too. It truly is lovely though. Thanks for sharing it with those of us who have never seen it.

Elaine said...

What a beautiful place! It would probably take a few days to see everything there. I had heard of French Lick, Ind., before but never visited there.

Charlotte Wohler said...

WOW -- just WOW!!!!!!! Want to go!
Thanks for sharing this with your readers.

Joyful said...

It's a gorgeous building. I'd love to spend some time there :-)

Benita said...

I was there last September, and you are right, it is amazing. In fact, I think you stood in the same places for your pictures as I did. :) It is very photogenic.

Sherry Miller said...

It is a pretty place for sure. It's really pretty during the Christmas season also. The great thing is it's free to walk around and look, we spend time just doing that.

Becky Caudill said...

That place is STUNNING.