West Baden Springs Hotel ready to welcome guests

Seventy-five years after turning out the lights on its last guest, the West Baden Springs Hotel in West Baden, Ind., officially reopens its registry today. Full Story
Charles Clements

Vista, CA

#41 May 25, 2007
I was born in French Lick,and I recall
visiting the hotel around 1955,and if
memory serves me correct,it was a
seminary at that time.It was a beautiful
place,and I am glad it has been restored

“Read all about it.”

Since: Mar 07

Lafayette, IN

#42 May 25, 2007
I'm glad to see the two hotels refurbished and up and running again. Prices are probably no different than staying in a high price hotel in New York or California or at the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island, Michigan. I have stayed a weekend at French Lick Springs Hotel while they were nearly finished with the refurbishing. I took the tour of WBSH a few years ago and was in total awe of the Dome Atrium and what the rooms would look like. Glad to see that both hotels and the casinos will help the French Lick and Orange County communities get back on their feet.

Since: Dec 06

Greenwood, IN

#43 May 25, 2007
Chart125 wrote:
I'm glad to see the two hotels refurbished and up and running again. Prices are probably no different than staying in a high price hotel in New York or California or at the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island, Michigan. I have stayed a weekend at French Lick Springs Hotel while they were nearly finished with the refurbishing. I took the tour of WBSH a few years ago and was in total awe of the Dome Atrium and what the rooms would look like. Glad to see that both hotels and the casinos will help the French Lick and Orange County communities get back on their feet.
There is only one casino, and it's next to the FLSH.

“Read all about it.”

Since: Mar 07

Lafayette, IN

#44 May 25, 2007
Sorry, typo error.
MOTOWN

AOL

#45 May 25, 2007
pacers101 wrote:
<quoted text>
or a limited access highway like 69.
anyway, do they have an Al Capone suite.It'd be cool to stay in the same room Capone did.
I must say I'm glad they restored it. Can't believe it just laid in ruins for all those years. It is a wonder and a hidden treasure for Indiana.
Capone never actually stayed at the West Baden Hotel. He had train car stop at what is now Wilstem and stayed in the lodge and cottages there. Ballard owned West Baden and the farm ground Wilstem sits on today. Ballard and Capone had business dealings together but Capone never ever went into the hotel.
No Duh

Cincinnati, OH

#46 May 25, 2007
MOTOWN wrote:
<quoted text>
Capone never actually stayed at the West Baden Hotel. He had train car stop at what is now Wilstem and stayed in the lodge and cottages there. Ballard owned West Baden and the farm ground Wilstem sits on today. Ballard and Capone had business dealings together but Capone never ever went into the hotel.
I'm sure that's not true. Al Capone was a frequent guest at the hotel. Sometimes he had several friends with him, sometimes he had only one or two guests. Someimes he stayed for a week, sometimes he went just for a day to "take the waters." The mineral waters in both West Baden and French Lick were believed to have great health benefits and were known all over the country.

I still have an aunt and several cousins living in the West Baden - French Lick area, and I remember looking through the family albums and seeing pictures of Capone and several of his friends at the hotel. One of the pictures was of Capone surrounded by hotel staff members, one of whom was my father.
Law Enforcement Student

Vincennes, IN

#47 Dec 13, 2007
West Baden is my hometown and over the years I have watched my little town turn into a pretty bustling place. I am now at Vincennes University, and I just want to say that all the work that has been done is just amazing. At first I thought that it was pointless, since there is basically nothing in my town to do. However, with Holiday World close by, and Paoli Peaks if its too cold for that. There is the casino, as well as Patoka Lake, and there are plenty of historical sites scattered around the area to make up for the lack of things to do in town. If you haven't gotten the chance to see the Hotel, you should take some time to give it a look.

Since: Dec 06

Greenwood, IN

#48 Dec 15, 2007
No Duh wrote:
<quoted text>
I'm sure that's not true. Al Capone was a frequent guest at the hotel. Sometimes he had several friends with him, sometimes he had only one or two guests. Someimes he stayed for a week, sometimes he went just for a day to "take the waters." The mineral waters in both West Baden and French Lick were believed to have great health benefits and were known all over the country.
I still have an aunt and several cousins living in the West Baden - French Lick area, and I remember looking through the family albums and seeing pictures of Capone and several of his friends at the hotel. One of the pictures was of Capone surrounded by hotel staff members, one of whom was my father.
Let me add to this. I've been waiting for this thread to get resurrected. One of my uncles, Greg Gatsos, wrote one of the books about WBSH entitled "History of The West Baden Springs Hotel"
Here's his email to me regarding Mr. Capone's connection to WBSH.
"Tony,
One of the most talked about stories with reference to the WEST BADEN SPRINGS HOTEL, ever since I became acquainted with it was that Al Capone, came to the West Baden Spring, and French Lick Springs areas. No account of the number of times Al Capone, came to that area was ever stated. His visit or visits there would have been during the the era of the "Roaring 20's"(1920's). His interests/contact would have been with Mr. Edward Ballarad. Ed Ballard rose to wealth early in the 1900's. As early as 1912(based on an interview I had with a very respectable person) Ed Ballard had casinos as far south as Havana Cuba. Most of Ed's business interests were in the area of illegal gambling operations. This quite aroused the interest of Al Capone. Therefore the interest of Al Capone to check out the competition.
The only two objections to Al Capone, ever coming the to West Baden Springs, and French Lick Springs areas were from the following people. First was from that of Chad Ballard, son of Ed Ballard. I personally new Chad and even interviewed. He briefly stated that Al Capone, never came to that area. I believe from Chad's tone of voice he was not wanting to have his father's name ever associated with the likes of Al Capone. The second was from Jim Ballard, cousin to Chad. His dad Logan and Ed were brothers. His dad bought from the railroad and owned and operated the GRAND HOTEL, in Mackinac Island, Michigan for a short while, having died suddenly at a young age. In my interview with Jim Ballard, he stated, "why would Al Capone, ever have come here. There is only one way in and only one way out. Al Capone, would never put himself in a place like that.". I really feel that from his tone of his voice, he was as his cousin Chad, protecting the name of his uncle Ed, and the Ballard name." continued...

Since: Dec 06

Greenwood, IN

#49 Dec 15, 2007
continues

"Joe Ballard, another brother of Ed Ballard built and ran the Gorge Inn Casino, from the early 19 teens up to his death in 1947. Along with this fact gambling was first introduced in around 1890 by Lee W. Sinclair. It was never legal, and lasted up to 1949.
As far as Al Capone, staying at the Wilstem lodge and cottage, the following was stated by Jim Ballard, in my interview with him. "This is where my uncle Ed go each summer for a week or two with our family, and no body!!!!, I mean no body !!!! got to see him for that time he and we were there. The Wilstem was his get away place." So I presume even Al Capone was now allowed to see Ed Ballard, while he was on vacation at the Wilstem.
For the record, based on my research Al Capone, did stay at the WEST BADEN SPRINGS HOTEL, as an overnight guest. Perhaps it wasn't as extravagant as some of the stories make his stay out to be, ie. "Al Capone, used to rent out the entire 6th floor of the WEST BADEN SPRINGS HOTEL". From my interviews with long, long time employees of the WEST BADEN SPRINGS HOTEL, I have gathered the following substantiating evidence that Al Capone, stayed there as a guest. First, the long time gardner, who lived in the house behind the hotel, having got that house with his job in or about 1908, "Doc" Jones, stated.
"I remember Al Capone coming the the WEST BADEN SPRINGS HOTEL. I delivered flowers to the Capone suite, and I was given a bottle of whiskey." Now why would Al Capone, have put out money for a suite there and not have stayed over night.
Another interview revealed, "My brother worked in one of the many shops that faced the atrium on the first floor. He was waiting on a man one day when the man behind that customer complained, "that boy is taking too long to wait on people". The customer turned around and said to the man behind him and said, "he's doing just fine." Later that day the main being waited on found out that the man behind him complaining was Al Capone. That man packed his bags and left the hotel at once". Other people I interviewd stated tha t Al Capone came to the WEST BADEN SPRINGS HOTEL. I'm not sure if Al Capone, was staying over night there, but it still seems to reason if he was shopping there.
All in all I believe that Al Capone, did stay over night as a guest at the WEST BADEN SPRINGS HOTEL, being his was a 1st class type of person. The WEST BADEN SPRINGS HOTEL, was in fact known as "the place to be seen."
Sorry I went on so long with an answer to you question. I hope this information is what you wrere looking for.
Sincerely,
Uncle Greg
First thought

AOL

#50 Dec 15, 2007
I've been there twice, last time to see Ron White a couple of weeks ago. Perfect stay and worth every penny.
Dennis Matthews

Chicago, IL

#51 May 2, 2008
In a article in the Bedford, Indiana newspaper, they interviewed the telephone operator that had worked at he West Baden Hotel for many, many years. She spoke of Mr. Capone who had stayed at the hotel, she said he was a very nice man, he would play pool at the building off of the hotel which also had bowling lanes. Bloomington's Bill Cook, founder of Cook Inc, planes to restore the building when he learned that Mr. Capone had used the building which is off of the hotel and the fountain.
Wavy Gravy

Marysville, OH

#52 May 3, 2008
I can't wait to go!
Wavy Gravy

Marysville, OH

#53 May 3, 2008
Who remembers the DECA conventions in French Lick in the 70's-early 80's?
leslie schroeder

Michigan City, IN

#54 Jun 10, 2008
I happened upon the west baden by accident and had to stop to see what this grand place had to offer. i was taken with its beauty. since that evening i have been completely obsessed with this place and can't wait to stay there for a night. the price is steep but well worth it. please take a moment to read up on the history of the place, it is fascinating!
Rhonda Thompson

Bloomington, IN

#55 Aug 3, 2008
I remember going to band camp at West Baden Hotel in the early 80's. I thought it was beautiful then, even in it's disrepair
David Ballard

Erie, CO

#56 May 16, 2009
I understand that Edward father is probably the brother of William Ballard, who I believe came to this area in 1830's. I think that he is also a cousin to Jackson Edgar Ballard, who was murdered in the Civil War. Can anyone tell me about Edward's parents, and little more about his descendants? You may either post, or contact me at ddeanb@comcast.net Thanks a bunch in advance!
Logan

Champaign, IL

#57 Jul 23, 2009
Looking for any information on west baden as it was owned by my great-great grandfather ed ballard. Also intrigued to find any pictures of 1920s as well as gorge casino inn. Thx email me at kperk_82@yahoo.com
Ruth Florida

AOL

#58 Aug 16, 2009
Logan wrote:
Looking for any information on west baden as it was owned by my great-great grandfather ed ballard. Also intrigued to find any pictures of 1920s as well as gorge casino inn. Thx email me at kperk_82@yahoo.com
Logan,
I don't have info on West Baden, but just wanted to say that my daughter was one of three nurses who took care of Chad Ballard when he was in the nursing home in Indianapolis. She said he told her many stories of his life that was so interesting.
Mike

Indianapolis, IN

#59 Apr 2, 2013
Looking for names of Titanic survivors who stayed at west baden springs after the sinking
Gretchen Cole

Palmyra, IN

#60 May 20, 2013
I worked at the Gorge (Nursing Home) in the early 70's. It was very creepy at times and the patients tended to be "mental" not elderly. We had the old timely wheel chairs and it was all old time equipment. We would put patients on the screened porch. I actually loved the grounds. What happened to that place? It would be a loss if it is destroyed.

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