Have you heard of the West Baden angels?
Hidden away in the very top of the breathtaking atrium of the West Baden Springs Hotel of French Lick Resort is a small room that is shrouded in mystery. While not a secret, the angels are not well known, nor accessible for public viewing.
Describing it as a “room” might be a stretch. It is actually a steel drum, approximately 16′ in diameter, with an aged wood floor with cracks of light beaming through. What you find in this tiny space is extraordinary, as is the trip you must take to get there.
I certainly did not understand where I was going or what I would be seeing when I accepted an invitation from Sandi Woodward, Indiana Landmarks Program Manager, to “visit the angels”. I should have know that I was in for an adventure when I was told to “wear comfortable shoes and be ready to climb”. We started with a trip to the top floor of the hotel and out to the roof.
Still unaware of what was to come, I enjoyed a beautiful view of the countryside and the perfect background of blue sky. Then came the staircase…. and the realization that I was going to have to climb it. What you do not see in the photo is the top of the staircase. A fear of heights stopped me from taking photos as I exited the staircase and tightly gripped the large rope provided to steady climbers through the final ascent of the roof. My bravery was rewarded with a birds eye view of the towers, gargoyles, and formal gardens .
A red door was our re-entry point and then another climb, down this time, on a sturdy steel ladder. We have arrived! It is not known when they were painted or by whom. Graffiti dating back to 1915 covers some of the painted surface. It is hard not to imagine a lonely painter spending quiet hours creating the angels to watch over the building. Of course, we have no way of knowing the circumstances of the artist, or his intentions, but the experience of viewing the angels certainly conjures up romantic visions.
Enjoy the photos of these beautiful angels and know that they are watching over you on your next visit to the West Baden Springs Hotel!
Just one more thing, for a great video tour and more on the story, follow this link.