The Cross Brother’s of French Lick Lead the Way for Artisans in Our Area Today!
Posted on 03/20/2020 by Visit French Lick West Baden
We have many skilled artisans in our area, with items ranging from metal yard decorations to jewelry crafted from stones, to purses, bags, and totes, and so much more! The impressive skill of working with your hands still plays a big part of the shops available in French Lick today. The beauty of the craftmanship available in our quaint area is surprising to say the least. It seems almost fitting that artisans play such a big role in our area today, seeing as how French Lick was home to the Cross Brothers, Ferdinand and Henry.
Ferdinand (a stone-carver, originally from New York) stumbled upon a natural amphitheater in the hills of French Lick in 1886, a small cave with clear trickling spring water sat nearby, Ferdinand decided to build his house in this location. Before long, Cross Cave (as the little cave came to be known), became a popular chicken dinner place for hundreds of French Lick hotel guests, thanks to Ferdinand’s wife.
Intricate Carvings began to appear on the limestone hillside. The limestone was transformed by Ferdinand into a group of life size cattle, a pair of turtles, owls, monkeys, lizards, snakes, eagles, there was even a sculpting of the thorn crowned head of Jesus with an inscription that read, “He was wounded for our transgressions”. Many of the sculpting’s have become part of the hillside again, hardly recognizable today.
Eventually the younger brother Henry came to French Lick, a painter who had studied under Rosa Bonheur in Europe. Being the younger brother did not negate the fact that Henry was talented with a palette and brush. He knew and painted portraits of Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, Carson and Jim Bridger. He also painted Geronimo, Sitting Bull, General Grant, King Edward VIII, and many others. A portrait of Lincoln was hung in a private car for presidential use. While the picture of Grant was hung in palace of the Sultan of Turkey. Many years later, most of his works were destroyed in a fire.
There must be something in the water that runs throughout the beautiful hills of southern Indiana, for it gave the Cross Brothers great inspiration in their day and continues to inspire artisan through today.
Checkout these inspired artisans throughout #myfrenchlick!
Fox Hollow Gallery – Has been a part of the American Craftsman business since 1973. They specialize in custom metal creations, and is the home to over 15 regional artists unique works.
Bear Hollow Wood Carvers – One of a kind chainsaw sculptures are created by award-winning carvers from across the United States. A great time to visit is the third weekend in September when they hold the Annual Block Bash, where some of the best wood carvers in the country descend upon French Lick in a display of “cutting edge art”.
Envision Design – Is a unique store that hand-crafts purses, baskets, totes, and more, all made with a special purpose. All of the profits from Envision Designs goes to fund the First Chance Center, a day program for disabled adults in our community, as well as an early intervention program for tots ages 2 to 4.
French Lick Winery – This family owned and operated business has been producing award-winning wines since 1995. Not to mention the amazing on-site café and gift shop, as well as the distillery Spirits of French Lick.
Spirits of French Lick – Is a proud member of the Spirited Brews Trail. The distillery relies on traditional methods of distilling along with new innovations to craft a line of spirits with defined character.
Hinshaw’s Rock N’ Gems – This family has been creating unique jewelry since 1961. Nationally acclaimed lapidary artists design and create one-of-a-kind jewelry, decorative items, and guitar picks.
Refined – Put’s an emphasis on re-purposed pieces, handmade items, as well as unique gifts, home décor, and small furniture.