Archive for May 11, 2012

Twilight Tours Relive Grand Era at West Baden Springs

Walter Hagen reenactor at the Twilight Tours.

Walter Hagen reenactor at the Twilight Tours. Photo provided by the event organizers and used with written permission.

By Jen Thomas
On behalf of Indiana Landmarks

The West Baden Springs Hotel offers a fascinating window into the grand hotel era of the 19th and early 20th centuries. On select Saturdays through October, Indiana Landmarks brings the period back to life on Twilight Tours, guided trips through the hotel where visitors meet a host of costumed characters representing guests and famous people of the time.

Special to the event this year are two costumed characters whose lives were forever changed by the sinking of the Titanic 100 years ago. Visitors will catch sight of Caroline Astor, who hid from scandal at the West Baden hotel when she was divorcing John Jacob Astor, later a casualty on the Titanic. They’ll meet Margaret Brown, who earned the nickname “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” after claiming she rowed more than seven hours to deliver her lifeboat and fellow passengers to safety.

Several well-known guests of the 1920s will make an appearance during the tour: Col. Bliss, commander of US Army Hospital No. 35 (the Army leased the hotel as a hospital from September 1918 through April 1919); Walter Hagen, who won the PGA at French Lick in 1924; Helen Keller, who was a guest at the hotel’s grand opening; author Edna Ferber; and Chicago mob boss Big Jim Colosimo.

Visitors also will meet hotel employees and entertainers, such as Mademoiselle Louise, the hotel’s resident palmist/mentalist in the early 20th century; Charles Rexford, West Baden’s hotel manager; and Dr. Hassenmiller, the hotel physician.

The 75-minute tour will end before 10 p.m. – the hotel’s universal bedtime during its heyday.

After the tour, visitors can enjoy one of the hotel’s restaurants, visit the French Lick Resort Casino, take a moonlight stroll in the gardens or check into one of the recently restored rooms.

Indiana Landmarks launched the restoration of the West Baden Springs Hotel with the Cook family of Bloomington. The preservation organization offers daily tours of the hotel in addition to the special Twilight Tours and Tour & Afternoon Tea programs.

For more information or to make a Twilight Tour reservation, contact Sandi Woodard, program coordinator for Indiana Landmarks, toll-free 866-571-8687

WHAT:       Twilight Tours of West Baden Springs Hotel

WHEN:       One Saturday each month from May through October

Starting at 8 p.m.: May 26, June 30, July 28, Aug. 25
Starting at 7:30 p.m.: Sept. 22, Oct. 13

WHERE:      West Baden Springs Hotel, 8538 West Baden Ave. (off Ind. 56), West Baden Springs (next door to French Lick in southern Indiana)

WHO: Costumed characters representing former hotel employees, entertainers, celebrity guests; two special guests who relate their memories of the sinking of the Titanic.

RSVP:       Reservations are required. Call 812-936-4034 or email

COST:       $14 per adult, $8 per child age 13 and under

SPONSOR:    Indiana Landmarks

Editor’s Acknowledgment: JTPR, Inc.