Thursday, February 09, 2012
Traveling Thursdays: The West Baden Springs Hotel, Pt. 3
Thanks to Preservationists Bill & Gayle Cook and Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, the West Baden Springs Hotel was saved at the 11th hour. Restoration began in 1996, with the first emotional high point being the lighting of the arch, which had been dim almost 60 years. The town of West Baden gathered for this symbolic ceremony that signaled the rebirth of not only the hotel, but the town of West Baden, Indiana as well.
Although this was a wonderful sight, it was only the beginning.
On October 24, 1998, culminating the first part of the restoration, the Moroccan Towers (which had been removed at some point during the Jesuit period) were replicated and placed back on top of the hotel thanks to Hurricane Bubba, an Erickson air crane helicopter that had been used to remove and replace the statue on top of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The pilots for this project were Max Evans from Columbus, Ohio, and David Cox from Westerville, Ohio.
Each tower had to be airlifted to the top of a seven-story pillar. Because of the size and weight of the towers, each lift was done in two parts. The tower bases were first placed atop the pillars. Workers, who stood on the pillars as the helicopter lowered the tower bases to them, guided the bases and then chained, welded, and bolted them into place. Once the bases were secured, the red-roofed tower domes were airlifted into place and secured. It was one of the most impressive things I have ever seen.
I still remember running around the property like a crazy person attempting to capture this once-in-a-lifetime show.
Even LIFE Magazine was there to cover the event.
Flash forward to 2007, I traveled back to West Baden to attend the grand gala that celebrated the re-opening of the Hotel.
The atrium was just as impressive, and I made sure to get a room that gave me a great room of its breathtaking beauty.
Be sure to scroll all the way to right to get an idea of the size of the atrium in this photo that I "stitched" together in Photoshop:
John Mellencamp and his (then) wife Elaine Irwin were on hand for the event.
The light fixture at the top of the atrium changed colors throughout the evening.
The Dining Room was a far cry from the decrepit mess it had been when I first saw it a decade before.
Finally, the Muse seemed happy!
If you want to stay at this amazing resort, visit the West Baden Springs Hotel website.
Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter. See more vintage & current West Baden Springs Hotel photos on my WBSH web page.