Luxury and Leisure in Indiana

Tour curated by: Indiana Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology

Moving into the 20th century, Indiana residents found themselves searching for ways to occupy their free time. Some were caught up in the chautauqua movement, others joined in on the growing wave of country clubs sweeping the nation, and some simply joined clubs and camps. Regardless, Hoosiers spent the beginning of the 1900s taking part in new free time activities that favored extended experiences and even extravagance.

This tour highlights locations and venues across Indiana where people would go kick back and relax. Some of these (like hotels and country clubs) were much more accommodating to the wealthy, while others (like camps and chautauquas) were available to a wider audience. Discover Indiana invites you to take a journey across the 19th state and experience these sites of luxury and leisure where Hoosiers spent their time throughout the early 20th century!

Please keep in mind that each tour is by no means a comprehensive list of sites in Indiana related to each theme. Please be respectful of private property lines when visiting each of these sites.

Locations for Tour

The Bartlett Real Estate Office was constructed in 1927 as the office for a resort development that Frederick Bartlett planned in Beverly Shores, a small community along the southern tip of Lake Michigan amidst the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.…

Monon Park was created in 1897 by the Monon Railroad as a way to encourage passengers to travel on the line. It ran from Chicago through Indianapolis to Louisville. Located on picturesque Cedar Lake, Monon Park was close enough to Chicago that people…

The Fountain Park Chautauqua was created in 1895 by Remington Bank president Robert Parker. He envisioned an annual assembly to be held for people to discuss topics including religion, science, literature and the arts that was based on the Chautauqua…

Lake Maxinkuckee, Indiana’s second largest lake, became a resort community beginning in the 1870s, and the area continues to be a summer vacation spot today. After the Civil War, industrialization led to more populated cities, and as cities became…

The Beyer brothers purchased a large parcel of land in 1886 on the shores of then Eagle Lake (later renamed Winona Lake) and opened Spring Fountain Park, a summer resort and amusement park. By 1895, the Winona Assembly and Summer School Association…

This African American resort community in northeastern Indiana was developed in 1924 when a group of Indiana businessmen decided to market the area exclusively to black families. Segregation abounded and African American families were not permitted…

The Chesterfield Spiritualist Camp was established in 1890 outside of Anderson, Indiana. Modern spiritualism emerged in the mid-1800s and involves the science, philosophy, and religion of continuous life, based on the communication through a medium…

Although built to house chautauqua events, the Rockville Chautauqua Pavilion is of a more simple form than some of the more camp and resort-like settings previously mentioned. It was built at Beechwood Park in 1913 when the Rockville Chautauqua was…

Located in the Springs Valley area of Orange County, the French Lick Springs Hotel helped make the region a destination for those in search of either mineral waters or casinos or, more likely, a combination of the two. The Springs Valley was rich…

The current West Baden Springs Hotel was constructed from 1901-1902, but the site was used for hotels prior to this incarnation. The earliest hotel in West Baden Springs was constructed on this site in 1845. With the arrival of the Louisville, New…

The Fortnightly Club in Vincennes is an educational, social, and humanitarian club for women. Before women were allowed to vote (1917 in Indiana, 1920 nationally), clubs and organizations were the only accepted way for women to take an active role in…

In contrast to the opulence of both the French Lick Springs Hotel and the West Baden Springs Hotel is the more modest, mid-sized Homestead Hotel. This building, located across the street from the West Baden Springs Hotel, was built in 1913. Smaller…

Jewish social clubs began to form in Indianapolis as the city’s Jewish population reached a steady 1% during the late nineteenth century and self-selection kept most Jews out of already established clubs and organizations. For instance, patterned…

The Country Club of Indianapolis (CCI) was the city’s first country club. It was established northeast of the city in 1891 where the Woodstock Club is currently located and nearby the current Newfields site. It was one of several country clubs to…

The creation of Highland Golf and Country Club started in 1903. The club spent much of the early 1900’s growing and developing before coming together as the entity that it is recognized as now in September 1919. Highland was one of several country…

Hillcrest Country Club, established in 1924, included a clubhouse, 1934 swimming pool, and a 1924 golf course. The remarkably intact golf course is why the property is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The 1920s-1930s is known as…

Meridian Hills Country Club was established in 1923 amidst a cavalcade of several other country clubs opening in the early 20th century both in Indianapolis and across the nation. With the growth of suburbanization during the early 20th century,…

The Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) has its roots in England as early at 1855. Two organizations, the Prayer Union and the General Female Training Institute, formed at the same time to provide a variety of services to young single women…