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Historic Structures of

Orange County, Indiana

More than half of Orange Co., in the scenic hills of Southern Indiana, is devoted to the Indiana National Forest. Paoli is the county seat..

West Baden Springs, 5 miles from Paoli, near French Lick, is home to one of Indiana's most majestic buildings, the West Baden Springs Hotel. Once touted as the Eighth Wonder of the World, and a health mecca and gambling oasis, the 94-year-old hotel was recently saved from neglect through the purchase of the Indiana Historic Landmarks Foundation.

Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia:

"In November 2010, a fire destroyed several buildings in Paoli's town square. The fire, which probably began in the Old Orange County Bank Building, burned six buildings. Most of the buildings on the square are over 100 years old."

Just another example of how our nation's history is under threat due to neglect, abandonment and vice.

Below we see a church in Paoli and a bank in West Baden Springs.

Orange County Indiana Church (1847) in Paoli

Distinguished 150 year-old Orange County Courthouse (1847) in Paoli is an example of the Greek Revival style of architecture (sometimes called Classic Revival).

The Greek Revival style is distinguished by the presence of one or more (but not necessarily all) of the following characteristics:

  • Greek inspired columns and pilasters (decorative features which imitate columns but are not load-bearing)
  • Bold and unadorned exterior moldings
  • Pedimented gables (the triangular top of the roof)
  • Heavy cornices (overhanging projections at the top of a roof) with unadorned friezes (area above the columns, just below the cornice)
  • Horizontal transoms (bars or openings) above entrances

The Greek Revival style can be distinguished by the Federal or Jeffersonian styles by the absense of any fan or arch-shaped windows, since the ancient Greeks did not use arches. Greek Revival buildings are usually painted white in imitation of the white marble used in ancient Greek structures.


Orange County Indiana Church (1847) in Paoli

Side and rear view of the Courthouse, showing off the clock tower and weather vane, and row of four brick chimneys on one side of the building. The clock tower marks the building's status as the centerpiece of the town square.

West Baden Springs Indiana National Bank

This bank in West Baden Springs (1917), may once have served wealthy patrons staying at the resort.

The building is an example of the Vault style of architecture, which communicates massiveness, stability and enclosure (a commonly-used and fitting architectural style for banks). The effect is somewhat reminiscent of the fortified complexes of ancient times. In some examples of vault architecture, the character is inspired by Renaissance Italy or 18th-century France.

Generally two to three stories high, the vault has a facade penetrated by a large, tall and generally narrow central opening, and occasionally smaller ones on either side.

Related Site:

West Baden Springs Hotel
Excellent site on one of Indiana's most important landmarks. Contains dozens of photos, including historical photographs and documentation of the restoration process.

These photos are courtesy of the photographer, Mike Habeck ( Mike is with EcoIndiana and, in addition to being concerned about historic architecture, is also looking out for the state's natural environment. Our thanks to Mike for sharing these photos with us.

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