French Lick Springs Hotel



Springs Valley Herald, July 17, 1930
By W. C. Gruber

The above photo of the French Lick Springs Hotel was taken in the early 80's, more than forty years ago, and will be recognized by many of the older residents, of this city and vicinity. When this photo was made Wells and Andrews were the owners of this property. The building was a wooden structure, of two stories, and occupied the space of the Main front of the present hotel. You will notice the elevated board walk from the old wagon road to the hotel. This walk was necessary to keep guest from wading in the mud in the wet weather. You are looking west and just south of the Hotel are the bowling alleys, which were located where the old power house, now the plumbing shop and private printing plant are located. The little two-story part of the north end of the bowling alleys was used for the office of the alleys, and the upper room was a poker room where guest and citizens could woo the Goddess of Luck.

A little farther south you can see at the extreme left the Livery Barn of Bev. and Wm. Rhodes, where plenty of buggies and surreys could be hired to take trips to various places of interest, such as Bear Cave, Outlaw Cave, The Six Mile Circle and other drives. The Rhodes Brothers kept from fifty to seventy-five fine Kentucky saddle horses in those days, before the advent of the automobile, and horse back riding was the main recreation, as golf was then not known in the United States, being exclusively a Scotch Game.

When this picture was made the ground around Pluto and Proserpine Springs had not been filled in as it is now and the level of the Springs was lower. They were surrounded by a softy, mucky soil and you had to walk a plank across the soft oozing ground to reach Pluto, which at that time sent his bubbling ill-smelling water up from the bottom of a square reservoir about four by six feet made of stone slabs set on edge. The arbor sheltering this Spring was of very rustic design, being composed of willow saplings, surmounted by bark roof, the only ornamental feature being the upturned butt of a sapling with the roots spreading into the air.

In those days the predominating idea of the proprietors was to stay close to nature. They believed, and rightly too, that the city visitors would better enjoy a ten day rest in those primitive surroundings, but, at that time, had no way of eliminating the inconveniences, that made themselves felt. Today, these unnecessary attributes to the "primitive life" have been eliminated by hotels and surroundings that have cost millions of dollars; a situation that allows for the affording of the best that can be found in the most modern of the city hotels, and yet has left room for the primitive charm that was, at first, the main attraction of French Lick's offer of "a restful vacation."