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West Baden Springs Hotel, West Baden, Ind.

Steeped in history, West Baden Springs Hotel in West Baden, Ind., will be the host of the 2013 Louisville Concours d’Elegance.

During its heyday, West Baden Springs Hotel was the place to be and be seen. The property’s mineral springs were marketed as cure-alls for arthritis, malaria and a host of other ailments. Private railcars ferried famous guests such as the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Studebakers to the area to “take the water” and enjoy the local scene.

The domed hotel, now 110 years old, was the dream of owner Lee Wiley Sinclair. After the original structure burned down, Sinclair vowed to rebuild a grand hotel modeled after the grandest spas of Europe. The final product, built with bridge engineering techniques, was dubbed the “eighth wonder of the world” because it featured the world’s largest free-span dome measuring 100 feet tall and 600 feet in circumference. Hotel features added later by Sinclair’s daughter Lillian include an enormous Rookwood fireplace, statues reminiscent of those in the Vatican and an elaborate mosaic floor. 

The hotel later was a military hospital in World War I, a seminary known as West Baden College and Northwood Institute, a private college offering degrees in several subjects, including automotive studies.

After sitting vacant for years and deteriorating, the hotel was restored and reopened in May 2007, offering overnight accommodations for the first time since 1932. Immediately, the restoration and preservation achievement began winning national awards.

Called the “save of the century” by the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, the six-story circular hotel now boasts 243 guest rooms and eight specialty suites. Its historic grandeur was retained while providing amenities expected by today’s guests, including three restaurants, a natatorium featuring a spa and indoor pool, fitness center, retail shops, and conference and event space.

Today guests can walk the grounds where countless visitors have gone before them, soak in the property’s history and partake in modern amenities like championship golf, spa services and a wealth of entertainment. West Baden Springs Hotel is truly a world-class escape and the perfect backdrop for the history and grandeur that is the Louisville Concours d’Elegance.