The Eighth Wonder of the World

A visit to the West Baden Springs Hotel

Today the West Baden Springs Hotel at French Lick, Indiana, is a luxury resort and spa. What makes this hotel unique is that it was built in a circle with the center portion covered with a domed roof measuring 200 feet in diameter. From the time it was built in 1902 until 1965 this dome was the largest in the world, being larger that the
Pantheon in Rome or Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. For over 2/3 of a century the hotel was considered the Eighth Wonder of the World. This title was lost when the Astrodome was built in Houston. The fact that a football stadium is larger than the WBS Hotel did not take away the feeling of wonder I experienced when first stepping into the atrium with its 100 high ceiling. Here was an interior space that could easily house the Poland Public Library with extra room to spare.

In August 2008 while visiting friends living in Indianapolis it was decided that we would all take a day trip to French Lick and tour the West Baden Springs Hotel. The hotel had recently been reopened after a $50,000,000 renovation project. We were also a little curious to see the home town of that great basketball player, Larry Byrd. The town was a disappointment but the hotel turned out to be more than any of us had expected. It is hard to begin to describe the splendor of this structure as seen from the highway.
We entered through an arched gate and drove down a long tree lined driveway. The white circular building was topped with a bright red dome. Four tall exterior towers gave the hotel the appearance of a cathedral. Once inside the vast interior I was torn between laughter and tears. It was so grand, so pretentious, so wildly beyond anything I could have imagined. Across from the entrance into the atrium is a huge fireplace large enough to burn 14 foot logs. Around the atrium were six story tall columns which supported the dome. An hour tour of the hotels amenities provided a visit to the gardens, the spa, the two story domed lobby, and the long curved porch furnished with rocking chairs for the guest’s enjoyment. Truly the West Baden Springs hotel will always remain the eighth wonder of the world. If you don’t believe me, go to the web and see for your self.