West Baden Springs History 1996-1999
Partial restoration designed to attract buyer
Worried that the nationally significant landmark could not withstand another winter without investment in the building, HLFI West Baden, Inc., a subsidiary of Indiana Landmarks, bought the property for $250,000 in July 1996. An anonymous donor contributed the purchase price.
A corporate benefactor, Cook Group Incorporated of Bloomington, Indiana immediately began a partial restoration to make the property more attractive for redevelopment. Initially committed to spending $12-14 million on the property, Bill and Gayle Cook and their companies eventually tallied $32 million on the Phase I restoration (1996- 1999), and millions more in annual maintenance.
The Cooks restored the exteriors of the hotel and all outbuildings, including the double-arched entrance gate, Bowling and Billiard Hall, Apollo and Hygeia springs pavilions, stable and garage building, power plant, gazebo and observatory. On the interior, the Cooks returned the 100’x200’ domed atrium, lobby, and dining room to their original elegance. The Cook team also restored the esplanaded entrance boulevard, the sunken garden, and the grounds, all of which had been overtaken by nature. Architect George Ridgway designed the restoration, with Pritchett Brothers serving as the primary Phase I restoration contractor.
History of West Baden Springs Hotel
1901-1902: Creating "The Eighth Wonder of the World"
1902-1929: Vacation spot draws elite crowd
1930-1984: Great Depression ushers in college era
1985-1995: Post college years bring vacancy and deterioration
1996-1999: Partial restoration designed to attract buyer
2000-present: Nothing but blue skies from now on