Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Local Shopping Guide

The towns of French Lick and West Baden are booming with local shopping options. When French Lick Springs Hotel reopened in 2006 and West Baden Springs Hotel in 2007, a variety of shops have emerged in the resort towns. We recently asked our Facebook fans where their favorite "must shop" spots were--here's a breakdown to work into your next visit in the area!

French Lick Winery

There's more to the French Lick Winery than delicious Italian food and house-made wines. Their gift shop is a wine-lovers haven. Wine-inspired decor ranging from signs, Wine glasses and more to a local cheese collection and French Lick Winery apparel--there's something for every wine-o in your life!

Enjoy complimentary wine tastings 7 days a week and take home a bottle (or five or ten) and enjoy their delicious wine year-round!

Connect with the Winery on Facebook:

Fox Hollow Gallery
Just a quick walk from French Lick Springs Hotel, this garden-decor inspired local store is a stellar, unique shopping experience in French Lick. Handmade garden signs, wooden decor, unique gift options and much more are always here to dazzle your shopping experience.

Follow Fox Hollow Gallery on Facebook:

Bear Hollow

You'll find one-of-a-kind chainsaw sculptures created by award-winning carvers from across the U.S., including owner Jason Emmons. Along with their wooden art, unique gifts and home decor by local artisans are also in the shop. You'll thoroughly enjoy this unique store in downtown French Lick!

Check out their Facebook for updates and event listings:

French Lick Harley Davidson

For all the Harley Davidson fans, this French Lick shop is full of apparel for all ages, gifts and collectibles located in downtown French Lick.

Finder's Keepers Vendor Mall

You never know what you might find at Finder's Keepers! With a variety of booths from different vendors, you are sure to find plenty of hidden treasures at this shop in West Baden.

Springs Valley Treasures

Antiques, collectibles, homemade candles and much more can all be found at Finder's Keepers neighbor, Springs Valley Treasures! If you're lucky, Bella the shop pug will be there to greet you.

Hinshaw Rock N' Gems
Since 1961, this nationally acclaimed lapidary artists design and create unique jewelry, decorative items and gifts for all ages.

French Lick Antique Gallery
Downtown French Lick staple, this antique gallery features French Lick memorabilia, decorative art, glassware, furniture and much more.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Summer Vacation Ideas at French Lick Resort

Make it a summer to remember at French Lick Resort.
The stories you create together as a family will become memories that you will cherish forever.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, French Lick Resort is the ideal family fun location for all things summertime fun. Here are some summer vacation must-do's at French Lick Resort.

Endless Pool Time
Swim until your heart's content at French Lick Resort! French Lick Springs Hotel (open from 5:30am-12:30am) and West Baden Springs Hotel (open from 6am-midnight) both offer an outdoor and indoor pool. 

Outdoor Activities Abound
With two incredible hotels with lots of history, enjoy Landmarks' Historical Tours (daily at both hotels)! On select Saturdays through September, step back in time with a Twilight Tour--costumed characters representing famous guests in West Baden Springs Hotel's past give visitors a an especially lively picture of the place, sharing their impressions of the hotel, the healing mineral springs and other tidbits. Or take our self-guided Historical Walking Tour around property and go at your own pace. The resort has more than 10 miles of walking and hiking trails throughout the Hoosier National Forest--perfect for nature enthusiasts with different leveled trail routes to fit your liking! Bike rentals (including surrey carts) are available daily and a great way to see the gorgeous property.

Fourth of July Festivities
Friday, June 30-Monday, July 3
Bring the family for festive Fourth of July fun! Kids can take part in the Craft Frenzy along with face painting and balloon art all weekend. There's also a DJ Pool Party and pool deck games for the kids while adults can enjoy volleyball, corn hole, Hillbilly Golf and croquet. Friday and Monday evenings, it's a family bonfire with s'mores and live music at The Stables. Saturday and Sunday nights enjoy a Dive-In movie. Wrap up the weekend with our fabulous fireworks Monday at dusk.

Horse Around at The Stables
French Lick Resort is home to 27 specifically selected and trained horses--most for trail horses for horseback riding in our scenic trails, two for carriage rides and ponies for the little ones. The Stables at French Lick Resort is complete with a gift shop full of souvenirs and Western-style items. 

Unique FootGolf Fun
Have you heard of this unique Soccer/Golf combo game? It is officially at French Lick Resort and played on The Valley Links Course using traditional golf rules but a soccer ball replaces the golf ball and your feet are used instead of clubs! Perfect to enjoy and create fun memories with your friends and family this summer.

Summer Photo Contest

The kick off to summer calls for a photo contest! Running from Memorial Day through Labor Day, post your best summer photo at French Lick Resort to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with #FLRsummerfun for a chance to be featured on our Facebook page and for amazing prizes! All details are at

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

10 Reasons Why Preservation Matters

By Joy Neighbors

West Baden Springs Hotel
Today brings Preservation Month to a close. Whether you call it conservation, maintenance or sustainability, preservation is the perfect way to keep our cultural past alive for this and future generations to discover.

Here are ten reasons why preservation matters to each of us.

1. Older buildings help us maintain our sense of history in an area or region. It gives us our roots. 

The Lobby of French Lick Springs Hotel

2. No pre-fab construction here. Historic buildings were built with better quality materials, just look around and you’ll see the difference.

3. Regardless of what some developers say, older buildings are cost effective with tall windows to let in lots of natural light, thick walls to hold in heat and large open space that let air circulate.

4. Older buildings are economically green. Why tear down just to rebuild? Redesign and reuse –it’s the ultimate form of recycling.

5. Architecture offers us the chance to interact and   experience the past. It is through older buildings that we can also experience “another place and time."

Photos of Angels Hand Painted High Above the Atrium

6. What secrets lie behind that fa├žade?  Stunning discoveries have included hand painted murals, intricate brick and mortar, Italian marble … you never know what may be just behind that 1990s redo.

    7. While big box stores love their, well, big boxes, it’s 
       been proven that small sole proprietors and  mom and   pop’s benefit when they locate their businesses in older buildings, thanks to the  ambience of the past and a nod to preservation.

8. Older buildings attract visitors. People want a sense of history – to see a place with a spirit and soul.

The Atrium at West Baden
9. Historic buildings help us remember our past and those who came before. They become our collective memory.

10. Once a building is gone – it’s gone. There’s no do-over on this decision.

French Lick Springs Hotel

Visit French Lick Resort for a look back at the intriguing times of the late 19th to mid- twentieth centuries. Tours of each hotel are offered daily. Step into our hotels and you'll understand why preservation matters.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Celebrating the Past at French Lick Resort

By Joy Neighbors
It all began in 1973 when the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated May as Preservation Month. Today, French Lick Resort is celebrating the month with several vintage displays set up to let guests get a glimpse of the past.

Vintage Cars
1926 Ford Model T Touring Edition
The 1926 Ford Model T Touring Edition is parked in front of French Lick Springs Hotel. Once the average worker could afford a “Tin Lizzie,” life began to change in America. People loved this car for its low price, versatility, durability and ease of maintenance. It was the first vehicle in the country to use standard interchangeable parts. The Model T had a 20-horsepower, four-cylinder engine that had to be hand-cranked to start, and got anywhere from 13 to 21 miles per gallon. With all the stops pulled out, the “Tin Lizzie” could get up to the terrifying speed of 45 miles per hour. The Model T was manufactured from 1908 through 1927.

1929 Ford Model A Coupe
This sleek 1929 Ford Model A Coupe, complete with a rumble seat, looks at home with West Baden Springs Hotel in the background. Parked in front of the old Billiards and Bowling Pavilion in the Formal Gardens, guests are encouraged to pose for photos by the roadster. The Model A sported several features the Model T did not: a three-speed sliding gear transmission, a four-wheel break system, hydraulic shock absorbers, and a safety-glass windshield. And dare devils pushing it to the limit could get a Model A up to a blistering 65 miles per hour. Over five million cars were sold between 1928 and 1932.

1929 Rolls Royce Phantom 1
And then there’s the legendary “Flying Lady.” This 1929 Rolls Royce Phantom One with the St Andrews body style is one classic beauty. Originally owned by former Indianapolis mayor and former French Lick Springs Hotel owner, Thomas Taggart, this Rolls would seat seven and originally cost $18,500 - the equivalent of over $260,000 today. It was used for private transportation, and provided a nice ride for visiting politicians and celebrities. It recently took six years to restore the car at the cost $365,000, but she's now back in all her glory.
The Flying Lady, out for a spin
According to resort Transportation Manager Sam Ray, “We take these vehicles out for special events, or to use as props in scheduled photo shoots. Of course, we have to keep them running so I get to take them out and drive them. People love to see them – they stop and wave. In the summer, I’ll stop by one of the hotels in my chauffeur’s uniform and pick up guests just for the fun of it,” Sam smiles and nods, “Everyone loves that!”

Vintage Casino Machines
Mid Century Casino Games
Casino games have also seen major changes over the years. Today, a casino floor is alive with sound, flash and movement, but there once was a time when a slot machine didn’t make much sound until you won. On display at the French Lick Casino this month are slot machines from the 1940s and an “old-fashioned” roulette wheel. 
"Old Fashioned" Roulette Wheel
Roulette, the French word for “little wheel” was invented in 1796. The game became popular in the U.S. in the 19th century and today remains favored, thanks to online gaming. Other displays at the casino include china used at former gambling sites in the area, and post cards from several local gambling establishments of the early 20th century.
More history is waiting to be discovered at French Lick Resort, not just during Preservation Month, but every day of the year!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Seven Historical Facts about West Baden Springs Hotel


By Joy Neighbors

Thanks to Lee Sinclair and his forward-looking ideas, West Baden Springs Hotel grew to become a world-renowned resort at the turn of the last century. When Sinclair died in 1916, his daughter Lillian continued the legacy of updating and remodeling the hotel. When Ed Ballard took over ownership in the 1920s, West Baden was known for its “moving” Sprudel water, baseball, and numerous luxurious conveniences.

Here are seven more historical points in honor of National Preservation Month.

West Baden Freestanding Dome

1) The largest freestanding dome in the
world spanned the atrium at West Baden until the 1960s when the Houston Astrodome took the glory.

2) West Baden was known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” because of the dome.

Jesuits Cemetery
3) The Jesuits bought the hotel from Ed
Ballad for a dollar in 1934. West Baden houses three groups of Jesuits during the 30 years they kept the hotel: Priests, Brothers and students.
4) There is a cemetery on the property. Close to 40 Jesuits are interred in the small graveyard located a few steps from the West Baden portico. Visitors are welcome.

The Rookwood Fireplace in the Atrium
5) For several years, West Baden was a business and culinary school known as Northwood Institute.

6) The atrium boasts a one-of-a-kind
fireplace crafted from Rookwood tile made in Cincinnati and now valued in the millions.
7) West Baden opened as a hotel again in 2007 – 75 years after the hotel closed its doors on June1, 1932.

Learn more about West Baden Springs Hotel; visit our web page and explore all we have to offer.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Eight Historical Tidbits About French Lick Springs Hotel

By Joy Neighbors
Dr. William Bowles
May is National Preservation Month, a great time to mine the archives for interesting tidbits about French Lick Springs Hotel.

It was 1845 when Dr. William Bowles purchased land in southern Indiana and built the first French Lick Springs Hotel. Bowles believed that the local waters had healing powers. When he introduced his “miracle water cure,” French Lick became a stop on the wellness map. 

French Lick Brick
1. French Lick Springs Hotel was built with trademarked buff (yellow) bricks known as the “French Lick Brick.”

An Advertisement for Pluto Water
2. Pluto Water was French Lick’s trademarked water bottled at a local plant from the sulphur and lithium-rich springs located in the valley. Thanks to its effectiveness as a laxative, the company’s slogan, “If nature won’t, Pluto will” was true.

Monon Depot at French Lick
3. Former Indianapolis mayor Tom Taggart convinced the Monon Railroad to lay a special track to the door of the hotel so that guests from Chicago and Louisville could simply step off the train into luxury. At one time seven trains arrived and departed daily from the depot.

Birthplace of Tomato Juice
4. Tomato juice was created here in 1917. Chef Louis Perrin was preparing orange juice for the breakfast of hotel guests when he ran out of fruit. Thinking quickly, he began juicing tomatoes, and by adding a mixture of special ingredients (sugar, onions, garlic powders and spices), Perrin created what became known as the tomato juice cocktail.

FDR at French Lick Springs Hotel
5. Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced his intention of running for president at the 1931 Democratic Governor’s Conference held at the French Lick Springs Hotel. Roosevelt received the nomination of the Democrats one year later.

Abbot and Costello Share Breakfast with a Friend
6. Hundreds of famous people – stars and presidents - have stayed at French Lick Springs Hotel. From the early 1900s through the 1950s, it was known as “America’s Playground” - a place to see and be seen.

The Hill Course (Now Donald Ross)
7. In order to withstand the Great Depression and WWII, the hotel began touting itself as a golfer’s destination instead of a wellness spa.

The Pete Dye Course
8. French Lick is home to three championship golf courses: the Valley Links course was designed by Tom Bendelow and opened in 1910, the Hill Course (now the Donald Ross Course) was designed by Donald Ross and opened in 1917, and the Pete Dye Course was designed by golf architect Pete Dye on the back of a napkin. It opened in 2007.

Find out more about French Lick Springs Hotel and French Lick Resort and plan a visit to experience this one-of-a-kind hotel for yourself.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Remembering Mudlavia – Another Hoosier Wellness Spa

 By Joy Neighbors

Wellness resorts were hot commodities in the late 1800s. Travelers went to Hot Springs, Arkansas and Saratoga Springs, New York to "take the waters.” And of course, French Lick and West Baden, Indiana were home to two well-known health spas where the wealthy could enjoy spa treatments, and some time away from frantic society events. But there were several such spa-based hotels located in the Hoosier State.

Mudlavia Hotel
One was situated in north western Indiana, near the town of Kramer. The Mudlavia Hotel was home to the healing Mudlavia Mud Cure and Lithia Water Baths where guests were packed in hot mud before bathing in the hot mineral waters. The standard prescription was to "take the cure" once a day for the 21 days for maximum benefit.

The water's curative powers were discovered when a local farmer, digging a ditch, realized that as he worked in the mud, and drank from a nearby stream, his arthritis began to lessen. Soon he didn't hurt at all - he was cured. 

Mudlavia Springs
When word spread, H.L. Kramer bought the land and built a large hotel where he housed the healing water baths. Visitors came from around the country seeking a cure to their rheumatism, consumption and other serious health conditions.

But Mudlavia was not seeking the “typical" resort guest. The hotel brochure stated, “Who comes here, leaves vice behind.” A nice way to let the wealthy know that no gambling, drinking or other "amenities" offered at the lavish resorts would be tolerated here.

Mudlavia’s guests were also older adults, mainly in their 50s through 70s with health problems usually brought on by age. Men were the more frequent visitors to the hotel. Most were middle class with occupations such as bankers, mangers, teachers and salesmen. 

Most treatments took 21 days so the guest was at the hotel for at least three weeks. At the end of this time, if you were not “cured,” then another round of treatments were called for, which would last another 21 days. Many could not afford to stay any longer, and numerous people left without relief.

Mudlavia had a good reputation in the Midwest for it's curative mud and waters. But then on February 29, 1920, a fire was discovered in a hotel linen closet and the Mudlavia Hotel burned to the ground. There was talk of rebuilding but with the approaching Great Depression, no one was interested, nor could they afford to seek the cure anymore. French Lick Resort had the good fortune of the Cook family’s interest in preserving these two historic hotels for future generations. Mudlavia did not fare as well.

Mudlavia falls into disrepair
The structure fell into disrepair but was rallied as a home for the elderly during the mid-20th century. It was then remodeled and housed a restaurant before burning down again in 1974.  Although the hotel is now gone, the water was still being bottled and sold under the Cameron Springs brand until 2008 when the FDA banned its sale.

Want to learn more about the golden age of the “healing waters?” Step back in history with Indiana Landmarks and tour French Lick Springs Hotel and West Baden Springs Hotel. You’ll discover who came to stay and play here, and just what was so special about Pluto water and Sprudel Water, two big sellers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tours of each hotel are offered every day.  Visit Indianan Landmarks for details.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

There’s More to the Mansion at Pete Dye Than Meets the Eye

By Joy Neighbors

Heather Harrison give a tour of the Mansion
May is National Preservation Month – a perfect time to explore some of the historical features of French Lick Resort. Today, we’ll take a tour of the Mansion at Pete Dye with Heather Harrison, Golf Food and Beverage Assistant Manager.


A Guest Suite
The Pete Dye Mansion has been part of the resort for almost a century. When former Indianapolis mayor, Thomas Taggart purchased French Lick Springs Hotel in 1901, Mt Airie, one of the highest points in Indiana, was part of the deal. In 1928, Taggart decided to build a brick rendition of the family’s Hyannis Port home on Mt Airie for his son, Tom Taggart, Jr. and his family. The mansion was completed in 1929, six months after Tom Taggart Sr.’s death.

The Modern Bathroom, Circa 1929
Tom moved in with his two-year-old daughter Eva, and a nanny. The mansion featured all of the latest enhancements of the era, plus a widow’s walk, an underground tunnel and secret passageways. Taggart owned the home until 1953 when he sold it. 

The Main Entry
Since then there have been seven owners. Then, in 2008, Bill Cook purchased the mansion with the new Pete Dye Golf Course. The home sold under the condition that it would not be torn down, but instead renovated back to its former glory. The Cook family agreed and renovations began to convert the house into the Pete Dye Clubhouse.

Arched Doors in the Mansion
Today, the mansion is a delight to behold, and an adventure to explore. The home boasts the original arched wooden doorways, beautiful crown molding, and 1920s bathroom fixtures in both upstairs suites. The lavishly appointed manse has four king guestrooms with separate living and dining rooms. 

The One Piece Curved Bannister
The banisters for the double winding staircases leading from the foyer to the second floor were created from two separate pieces of wood soaked in water, twisted, cold pressed and put into clamps to form the continuous curving railings. A servant’s staircase is located near Eva’s playroom, and the nanny’s room on the third floor retains its original storage function for the home. The widow’s walk provides a breath-taking 360-degree 40-mile view of Southern Indiana.

The Hidden Staircase
Of course, what mansion would be complete without a hidden staircase (located in the dining room, winding upward to the master suite), narrow servant’s passageways, and a servant’s foot bell discreetly hidden under the dining room table. The secret tunnel was filled in, and no longer connects the carriage house to the mansion.

A Room with a View
Today, you can enjoy romantic Sunset Dinners at the mansion on Sunday evenings all summer. And while you’re there, slip upstairs for a peek at the grand appointments of this beautiful mansion, which still captures the essence of the Roaring Twenties.