Friday, October 2, 2009

A trip back in time

During BBAW week, you may have heard me bemoaning the fact that I had scheduled a vacation during the busiest week of a book blogger's year. I did manage to sneak in computer time when my husband's head was turned. But I didn't suffer too much...I wanted to show you where we went.

Have you ever heard of French Lick, in southern Indiana? (No rude comments, please.) Where Larry Bird grew up? Actually, we were right outside French Lick, in a town called West Baden (named after Wiesbaden Germany). This area is known for their mineral springs. Located right off a railroad, our resort was originally built in 1852 as a swanky place for the wealthy to come and stay to enjoy the healing powers of the springs. After a fire in the early 1900's, the owner decided to expand big. He built what would be the largest unsupported dome in the US until the Houston Astrodome was built in the '60's, and was deemed by some as the Eighth Wonder of the World. But the Great Depression forced the facility into financial ruin. The property was used as a Jesuit seminary and a private college over the years, then fell into disrepair. In 1992, a wealthy businessman from Bloomington Indiana invested a half billion to restore West Baden Springs Hotel to its former glory, as well as the French Lick Springs Hotel, located right down the road. Today the area not only attracts tourists to these two hotels, but a casino and a mecca for golfers (us!). In 2009, AAA recognized this resort as one of the top 10 historic hotels in the US.

It was truly like a trip back in time. You could almost close your eyes and imagine yourself in the early 1900's, strolling arm-in-arm through the gardens in our fancy, tailored clothes and fancy hats.





The entrance into the West Baden Resort property. You can see the old railroad tracks at the bottom of the picture.



The steps leading to the front entrance.



The lobby is beautiful, but is really just a tiny little appetiser leading up to the main attraction...



The infamous dome that makes your mouth hang open, idiot-like, when you first see it.



At night, the ceiling of the dome glows, changing colors and mesmerizing anyone hanging out in the bar. On the weekends, there is a gentleman that entertains by playing soft piano music, but during the week, you can almost hear a pin drop in this room.








The world's most comfortable lounging chair, located in the dome. Good for reading or sleeping - we witnessed both.



Our hotel room



The sunken gardens outside the hotel. These were refurbished to their original design.





Graveyard of the Jesuit priests




Some friendly resident goats, looking for a piece of food or clothing to nibble. The resort has horses too, but they were off frolicking when we walked back to the stables to visit.



And I saved the best for last...the library. I left my husband standing at the front desk, and wandered in here like a zombie in a trance...



They had an amazing selection of antique books. This particular book was published in 1817, appeared to be titled "The London Essayists", and contained various letters dated in the early 1700's. It was in its original leather-bound cover. I'm wondering if I should have even been touching it.

We also managed to squeeze in a couple of rounds of golf while we were there too. The terrain is very hilly in southern Indiana, making the game a little challenging. Nothing that a cold Stella Artois on tap couldn't cure, however.

Amazing, eh? You would never imagine such a haven of peace in the middle podunk Indiana, but there it is. If by some miracle you ever have the chance to visit, this is not to be missed!

For more information on the West Baden Resort, click here for UpTake's website.


23 comments:

Melody said...

Oh wow! I'm mesmerized by the pics!

And I don't blame you for leaving your husband standing at the front desk because that library is simply beautiful!

Nymeth said...

Love the pictures - the place does look like something from the turn of the century! And aww, the goat is so cute.

farmlanebooks said...

That looks beautiful! I love the hotel room - I agree the timing could have been better, but with a holiday like that you can't complain too much!

JoAnn said...

What a beautiful place! Thanks for posting all the pictures... the name of the town made me laugh though ;-)

bermudaonion said...

Oh my gosh, that looks fabulous! I want a chair exactly like the lounging chair you pictured!

Amy Reads Good Books said...

Gorgeous! I live in southern Ohio, so Indiana is a great weekend trip. I'll have to check this out. Thanks!

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

Well aren't you just fancy-nancy? :P Love the pics, what a fun trip!

Ti said...

I especially enjoyed the 'mouth hanging open idiot-like' comment because that sooo would have been me. What a gorgeous place! The cemetery was a tad creepy though but beautiful nonetheless.

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

That sounds like an absolutely wonderful place!

I love the pics of the building and the room, but the gardens are my favorite. They are just beautiful!

The Bumbles said...

I would have liked to have taken that satin bedspread and that antique book and wrapped myself up on the comfiest lounge chair while looking up at that dome between sips of Stella. You can have the day of golf ;0)

caite said...

I don't play golf, but between the gardens and the library, I would be very, very happy there. Indiana you say..who knew.

Kim said...

Thank you for posting the pictures of this lovely place, Sandy. The library and the domed lounge area are stunning. I always wonder about touching old books too, I'm sure we should wear gloves, but some places do not insist on that...
One thing I loved so much about living in the US was finding hidden treasures of places like this hotel which are dotted around the country. We were very fortunate to have been able to visit a few, but not this one, so it's on my list to look out for next time we are there, thank you.

Jenners said...

Wow! What a beautiful place! I'd never heard of it before now so thank you for this!

heidenkind said...

It looks beautiful! *jealous*

Andreea said...

Wow, these pictures are great, Sandy. They remind me so much of Wiesbaden! I went to school there and my family still lives there. I miss the city soooo much!!!

Alyce said...

That sounds fabulous! The library, the golf, dome and gardens - all of it looks spectacular!

Susan said...

Holy smokes! I had no idea that little ole French Lick was the home of such opulence! It is absolutely gorgeous, and I bet the pictures don't even do it justice, as most pictures don't! And if they have a restaurant, I bet they don't cook their steaks "ruint" either! LOL

I don't know how I missed this post!

Susan said...

Oops! Not French Lick! I got all caught up in the excitement of seeing Larry Bird's name! My all-time favorite B-Ball player!

Diane said...

All this in Indiana? Just beautiful. When I first saw the photos, I was thinking this was some international locale for some reason. ...not sure why.

Just lovely; I would have left my husband in the lobby too for the library LOL

MissDaisyAnne---Annette said...

Thank you for the pictures, a lovely place!

ds said...

I'm with Diane and Molly Bumble. In fact, that is exactly how it would go were we there: me in the library; Mr. L-S on the golf course. Such a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing!

Serena said...

Gorgeous! Love the photos you included!

I love how you snuck off to participate in bbaw and to check out antique books.

Anna said...

What a beautiful place! That library is gorgeous. Heck, the whole place is gorgeous!

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric