Thursday, October 16, 2008

Incredible Restoration

It was called the “8th Wonder of the World” when it was built in 1902, having the largest free-standing dome in the world. It wasn’t until the Astrodome was built in 1965 that a larger dome was built!

West Baden Springs was built in less than a year at a cost of $414,000. It was a world famous haven for celebrities, politicians and underworld figures until the Great Depression when it was sold to Jesuits for $1 and was operated as a seminary for 30 years. Then it fell into disrepair.

Fortunately, in the mid 90s Bill and Gayle Cook from nearby Bloomington, IN together with the Historic Landmark Foundation of Indiana purchased and stabilized the rapidly deteriorating masterpiece. My wife and I were there in the early 90s and it was way beyond what I ever thought was salvageable. But thanks to the Cooks, West Baden Springs is back to its old glory.

The Cooks have invested over $500 million into the preservation, restoration and revival of both the West Baden Springs Hotel and the nearby French Lick Springs Hotel, another turn-of-the-century destination hotel/spa.

Only a local couple like the Cooks would have dared to take on a project like this, pouring their heart and soul in addition to their money into a project that restores a wonderful part of southern IN history.


JDE said...

Jack: You didn't mention the economic impact of those investments. I was recently there at a to ask about it and the marketing folks addressing us said employment went from 300 to 1600 (counting the casino). jde, Kendallville,IN

BoomtownUSA said...

Great point! The economic impact of these projects is HUGE! In an earlier post on this subject I pointed out that the Cooks paid all of the employees for the year+ that it took to redo the French Lick Resort, even though they were not open for business.

Evolin said...

Wow Amazing blog...