In the rolling hills of southern Indiana, a once world-renowned health spa known as the 8th Wonder of the World has existed for over a century.
Built around mineral springs, famous at the turn of the last century for their healing powers, the West Baden Springs Hotel was the peak of luxury and relaxation in America.
Just outside the tiny town of French Lick, the West Baden Mineral Springs attracted visitors long before there was a resort to capitalize upon them. People arrived by the trainload to bathe and bask in the healing waters in the late 1800's. However, in 1902, the ultra-luxurious West Baden Hotel and Spa was built to house and serve visitors.
With immaculate architecture and grounds, as well as first-class amenities, the resort quickly attracted wealthy travelers from around the world. The resort's massive atrium, which features a 200-foot freestanding arch, was the largest in the United States until the construction of the Louisiana Super Dome.
As interest in spa resorts faded during the Great Depression, the hotel took on a number of new faces. During the aftermath of the Depression, it was a Jesuit seminary, and eventually became a private college that Larry Bird briefly attended. After finally falling into serious disrepair for a number of years, several private investors took an interest in reviving the property.
Recently, a new casino was built beside the nearby historic French Lick Springs Hotel as part of a major $500 million renovation project of the two resorts. The twin towns of West Baden Springs and French Lick Springs (collectively known as Springs Valley) now house two major resort hotels with full spa amenities, as well as a casino and lavish new accommodations, fortunately done without sacrificing the old world charm and opulence that defined the resort in the first place.