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How Many Tiles on the Original West Baden Springs Hotel Atrium Floor?

July 06, 2023
Tile Floor at West Baden Springs Hotel Atrium


Okay, before you try counting to a million (a few times over), we’ll answer the question for you.

Historic West Baden Springs Hotel AtriumHow many individual marble tiles made up the original floor of the West Baden Springs Hotel atrium?

It’s a mind-bending sum. Even more preposterous when you stop and think every single one of those tiles was laid by hand back in 1917 during a series of upgrades and improvements at the hotel.

Before we calculate the solution, let’s play myth-buster for a second.

For years – even to the present day, depending on who you talk to – common lore was that the atrium consisted of about 12 million individual tiles. That number’s a little too steep. The true number is still astounding.

Historic West Baden Springs Hotel Atrium

The original marble tiles extended wall to wall, right to the edge of the Rookwood fireplace in the atrium.

The solution is a fun little geometry story problem. (Definitely dusting off those high school math skills here.) We start with the square footage of the atrium – a shade over 195 feet in diameter. That gives us 29,864.6 square feet on this circular floor. And there are approximately 144 of these 1-inch square tiles in every square foot. Take 144 tiles in a square foot times the 29,864.8 square feet in the atrium, and we’ve got our answer….

4,300,531 (give or take).

There is some variability in tile size, with some being smaller. According to James Vaughn’s book “The Dome in the Valley: The History and Rebirth of West Baden Springs Hotel,” the number could range from 4.3 to 6 million.

Historic West Baden Springs Hotel Atrium

The view of the old atrium floor from an upper balcony. At the very top edge of this photo are anthemion designs, which were Greek in origin and resembled a stylized honeysuckle leaf. There were 48 of these intricate anthemions, which were the boundary between the white tile central field and the decorative designs on the perimeter of the atrium. After several floor repairs over the years, none of these anthemion patterns remain.

Just imagine the painstaking process of laying these by hand. Especially with so many tiles arranged in beautiful, intricate patterns. Heck, just to count to one million (at one number per second) would take more than 11½ days. Getting to 4,300,531 (or more), one tile at a time, each laid with a measure of thought and precision, is almost beyond comprehension.

Historic West Baden Springs Hotel AtriumThis mammoth project was completed over a span of about six months by a team of artisans from the Cassini Mosaic Tile Co. out of Cincinnati. Today, you’ll still find the Cassini “signature” inlaid into two locations, as you enter the atrium from the lobby area and the main entrance by the porte cochere. They certainly earned the right to have the Cassini name displayed in front of all who set foot on the atrium floor.

Because of cracks and buckling, a large section of the atrium floor had to be removed during the late 1990s in the beginning stages of restoration. Today, the tiles you see in the atrium are all that remain from the original floor — roughly 25 percent. Hey, 1 million+ tiles is still pretty good, especially after more than 100 years.

But don’t bother trying to count ‘em all the next time you’re in the atrium. Just enjoy the view.

Historic West Baden Springs Hotel Atrium

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