Our Stories Resort Blog

Dig a little deeper into stories about our history, unique guest features, and what’s happening around the resort.


10 Ways to Enjoy Our Legacy of Preservation

Historic archway entrance at West Baden Springs Hotel

We always love celebrating National Preservation Month in May and sharing our personal story of preservation that saved our two historic hotels.

The month may be winding to a close, but it's never too late to commemorate our preservation story. Here are 10 ways you can experience some of the historic sights and features that were saved at French Lick Springs Hotel, West Baden Springs Hotel and elsewhere across French Lick Resort.

Afternoon Tea at West Baden Springs Hotel

Historic fireplace at West Baden

Sip on Afternoon Tea by the Rookwood fireplace in the West Baden Springs Hotel atrium. While tea service is a modern tradition at West Baden, guests have enjoyed this architectural piece for more than 100 years. The Rookwood Pottery Company of Cincinnati added it during a 1917 renovation, and it’s composed of several hundred ceramic pottery pieces joined like a jigsaw puzzle. At 20 feet wide and 11 feet high, it’s an eye-catching piece – and it was built to last. Incredibly, the fireplace was in great shape by the mid-1990s restoration and required little work beyond a good cleaning.

Twilight Tours at West Baden

Hear voices from the past at a Twilight Tour, where costumed interpreters paint a picture about the West Baden Springs Hotel experience during its original glory days. This cast of characters are, well, characters: mobster Big Jim Colisomo, artist Henry Cross, golfer Walter Hagen, the hotel’s resident physician and palm reader, and socialites Eva Astor and the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown. Even if you’ve already taken a traditional walking tour of the hotel, it’s worth going on a Twilight Tour to hear about West Baden’s history from a whole new point of view — while also taking a step back in time.

Fountain at West Baden Springs Hotel

Historic West Baden Springs Hotel

Take a stroll through the hotel gardens and savor a favorite hotel tradition. Many of the structures you’ll see in the West Baden Springs Hotel gardens, including the Hygeia Spring House, Apollo Spring Gazebo and the Billiard & Bowling Pavilion (which is currently being restored back to its original use) are still here today and have survived since originally being constructed in the summer and fall of 1917. The fountain is a reborn treasure, built anew during restoration to match historic photographs of the original fountain.

French Lick Springs Hotel Gardens

Historic French Lick Gardens

At French Lick Springs Hotel, the gardens were more ornate in an earlier era when they were known as the Japanese Gardens or Oriental Gardens. Many features are similar then versus now, such as the water features and foot bridges — and, of course, the iconic Pluto Spring House which has existed in this same spot since the mid-1910s.

Baseball field at West Baden

a group of people riding horses in a field

Pack a picnic, take a walk or play a game of catch in East Park, a past relic at West Baden Springs Hotel that has just recently come back to life again. The crushed stone walking path follows almost the exact same footprint as the bicycle and pony track, which was built in 1896 and immediately became one of the hotel’s most popular features. Likewise, the modern-day Sprudel Field was rebuilt to match where the hotel’s former baseball diamond was located. Today, you can play a game of catch in the same spot where the Chicago Cubs and other professional teams once trained during the preseason. As a bonus, you can also watch a game of Vintage Base Ball on this field on August 10 and September 14-15.

The Mansion at Pete Dye

Indulge in a Sunset Dinner inside the former Taggart family mansion. Tom Taggart, owner of French Lick Springs Hotel, built this hilltop mansion in 1929 for his son Thomas D. Taggart and his family. After the Taggarts got out of the hotel business, it’s believed that Harry S. Truman stayed at this mansion during a 1945 visit while serving as vice president as the remote location was better for security reasons. The mansion needed significant TLC during restoration but is yet another comeback chapter within the resort’s remarkable restoration tale.

Historic Donald Ross Course at French Lick

Donald Ross Course at French Lick

Walk the same path as Walter Hagen, one of golf’s all-time greats who captured the 1924 PGA Championship right here in French Lick. Coincidentally, it’s the 100-year anniversary of a victory that was smack dab in the middle of Hagen’s run of greatness: the sixth of his 11 major titles.

Back then, this course was known as the French Lick Springs Golf Club — created after world-renowned architect Donald Ross and French Lick Springs Hotel owner Thomas Taggart rode through on horseback when scouting a site to build their new course. Today, we know it as The Donald Ross Course at French Lick Resort. The course layout had been altered over the years, but the course’s original blueprints were discovered and a renovation returned nearly all the elements of the course’s classic design. 

Mineral Bath at French Lick

Mineral bath at French Lick Resort

Relax in a Pluto Bath or Sprudel Bath and soak in the mineral waters that made these hotels famous in the first place.

From the mid-1800s, guests flocked here for the promise the water could cure what ailed them. Bathing in it could cure skin ailments. Drinking it could fix everything from a fever to diabetes, in addition to its “moving properties.” Today, the Sprudel Water at West Baden Springs Hotel and the Pluto Water at French Lick Springs Hotel is still piped directly into the hotel — and scores of spa guests swear by the relaxing effects.

Grand Colonnade Restaurant

Historic RestaurantFeast on the breakfast buffet in the spot at French Lick Springs Hotel that contains a presidential connection. The Grand Colonnade Restaurant was once a ballroom that hosted the 1931 National Governors Conference. It was here that Franklin D. Roosevelt began rounding up his party’s support for a presidential bid the following year. There have been scores of famous celebrities and politicians who’ve visited here over the years, but few we can say for certainty were in a certain room or location. Well, we know for sure that FDR was right here where you’re enjoying your omelet or made-to-order waffles.

And the chandeliers you see today in the Colonnade? They aren’t original to this exact location, but were taken from the hotel’s former dining room where the pools are now located.

Trolley at French Lick Resort

Trolley at French Lick Resort

Hop aboard the rail trolley for a fun throwback ride. Trolley service began in the community in 1903, and while it eventually faded with the rise of personal automobiles, the trolley is back on track thanks to a partnership between the resort and the nearby Indiana Railway Museum. The museum worked with the Indiana Department of Transportation to draw up plans to redo the original track and secured a $200,000 grant. The trolley car itself is not original, but the closest thing to the original 1903 car was found in, of all places … Portugal. It took some elbow grease to get the trolley back up and running, but it’s great to have this vintage ride back on track.

Historic French Lick Springs Hotel

Relaxing at French Lick Springs Hotel

Find a rocking chair on the veranda and just slow down for a bit. The revival of French Lick Springs Hotel and West Baden Springs Hotel means that you’re guaranteed to have two happy places to escape and unwind for years to come. The tradition of relaxation never goes out of style. 

Tagged In:

Related Posts