A recent roadtrip to Huntingberg, Indiana, to visit family is a bit further than our our last Kansas Christmas roadtrip
. Still, it's an easy day's drive and the nearby southern Indiana West Baden Springs Hotel
is a definite destination especially during the holidays.
After a walk around the grounds then inside to absorb the breathtaking beauty of the hotel, we decide a tour is in order to learn how this unbelievable building came to be located in this rural area of Indiana.
It is all about the springs, mineral springs that George Rogers Clark decided had curative powers in 1778. In 1832 a hotel was built at French Lick and 1855 in West Baden Springs. According to the tour leader, by end of the 19th century, seven rail lines brought well to do guests to the hotels to “take the cure” and participate in hushed gambling.
In 1901 the West Baden Springs hotel burned. In September 1902, a 35-year old architect named Harrison Albright of West Virginia completed a building that featured a rotunda 200 feet across and a 100 foot high domed roof untethered by any central support. Hard to believe this was built using the technology of 100 years ago. No wonder it was called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
Since that time, it was used as a hospital in World War I then sold to Jesuits after the Great Depression diminished its affluent guests. While the seminarians kept up the building's structure fairly well, the four Moorish towers were dismantled. They finally sold it in 1964 for use as a private college which operated until 1983. Although the building is listed as a National Historic Landmark, it needed massive expensive renovations which was undertaken by the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. The result of these efforts are well worth a visit.
Click here for a slide show
of the hotel.
Flint Hills, Indiana or just around the neighorhood, have a Merry Christmas roadtrip.