Results 1-10of 37 Reviews
July 11, 2004
My previous stays were during winter months, so I hadn't seen Pluto or his springs until a recent stay. Curious about the history of this place I spoke with a historian on site.
Guests first arrived to this simple hotel in 1845 on foot or horseback to "take the waters", which magically cured 50 diseases including cancer, advertised by then owner Dr. Bowles. He increased marketing of his hotel by bottling Pluto water, competing with the lavish new hotel in West Baden a mile down the road. His bottling business grew and generated more revenue than his hotel, producing exceptional sales of $500,000 in 1915.
But by then, Tom Taggart, a popular politician from Indianapolis owned the property and bottling business. He transformed the hotel into a posh resort, crafting ornate plaster work, limestone carvings, Pluto statues, new wings, verandas, spring houses, golf courses and a grand entrance, lobby and convention hall where he hosted the annual National Democratic Governor's Convention for many years. Franklin Roosevelt was nominated for the presidency here in 1931.
West Baden may have had professional baseball teams, but French Lick had politicians. And the wealthy. I saw photographs of honored guests Lana Turner, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Studebakers, Rockefellers, President Truman, and President Reagan who stayed in the top 471 rooms. Even Al Capone and Diamond Jim Brady were regulars during gambling's heyday.
By 1955, the miracle waters were more of an amusement and the life-sized Pluto statues–now displayed on the lower level–were put in storage. New owners, Sheraton, covered the lobby mosaics with black-and-white vinyl and hid the high ceilings in the name of modernization. In 1991, the Luther James family bought the declining property at auction and restored the elegance and architectural details originally crafted by master builders.
Walking through the lobby, I had a new appreciation for the original mosaic tiles which once again grace the floor, and the ornate cornices and crown molding that adorn ceilings of the grand lobby and guest rooms, currently decorated in hunter green and burgundy.
Knowing the hotel is undergoing continued refurbishing made me forgive the conflicting patterns and colors leading to the pools. We bypassed the domed indoor pool and spent perfect summer days splashing in the spacious outdoor pool. Our last afternoon we watched a wedding take place in the gardens next to Pluto Springs.
Perhaps the lingering odors of Pluto, the Roman god of wealth and riches, will bestow blessings on the young couple. And keep them ailment free.
From journal Weekend in French Lick
by Local Secrets
New York, New York
January 28, 2008
September 16, 2012
July 23, 2012
July 19, 2012
April 10, 2012
April 9, 2012
April 7, 2012
October 24, 2010
May 25, 2009