West Baden Springs Hotel

Also known as: Northwood Institute of Indiana
W of IN 56, West Baden, Indiana


West Baden Springs Hotel

Photo from the Historic American Engineering Record

View photos at Library of Congress


Street Views 


The West Baden Springs Hotel is notable as an engineering achievement and as a testament to an opulent social era. The main building was erected in 1901-02 after a disastrous fire destroyed an earlier hotel on the site. The energetic owner of the hotel, Lee Wiley Sinclair, has been given credit for the general idea of constructing a domed circular court surrounded by guest rooms. The actual design was carried out by a young West Virginia architect, Harrison Albright. The dome was designed by Oliver J. Westcott of the Illinois Steel Company in Chicago. The hotel is a six story structure with a 16-sided exterior enclosing two rings of rooms around the domed court which rises the full height of the building. Its principle feature is the dome itself, which is supported 24 steel ribs, and has a diameter of 195 feet. At the time of its construction, its owners, supported by the leading technical journals, claimed it to be the largest dome in the world. The great size and elegant engineering of the dome make the West Baden Springs Hotel a climax in the great era of experimentation in the use of metal and glass during the 19th century. The building also played a significant role in American social history, attracting many celebrities during the first three decades of the 20th century. Guest came at first for the mineral waters available in West Baden, but increasingly during the 1910's and 20's the main attraction at the hotel was gambling. After the hotel closed its doors during the Depression, the building became a Jesuit seminary. Since 1967, it has housed a private college. -- Historic American Engineering Record (HAER IN-2)

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on June 27, 1974
Reference number
Areas of significance
Landscape Architecture; Engineering; Entertainment/Recreation; Architecture; Social History
Levels of significance
National; State
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
Hotel; Secondary structure
Current functions
Museum; School
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1925-1949
Significant years
1901; 1902; 1917
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 5

Update Log 

  • January 16, 2017: New photos from Michael Miller
  • November 28, 2016: New photos from Michael Miller