A Real Ghostly Renovation: The Baker Hotel
Halloween is around the corner and what is better than a little ghost story of a haunted hotel located here in Texas. This haunted facility is located in Mineral Wells, which is 50 miles west of Forth Worth. Many ghost hunters reports have this listed as one of the most haunted places in the state.
One legend is of a young man and his friend, who were fraternizing with the laundry women in the basement or what used to be the laundry rooms. His boss was going to check on them so the first man jumped into the elevator the second man however was caught in between the closing door and died. It is said if you go by the elevators at night you can see him. Another legend is that a mistress was so distraught that she could not have her lover killed herself in the Baker. You can smell her perfume of lavender at night in the hall where she killed herself. Another lady jumped out of the bell tower to her death.
As for the history behind this historic haunting site, according to Wikipedia:
“In 1926 construction began on the Baker Hotel, which would offer therapeutic baths and massages to the many visitors. Built in the style of the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the Baker is not quite Art Deco, but still a product of the Roaring 20s. Construction was completed in late 1929, and the Baker opened for business on November 22, 1929.
T.B. Baker, a wealthy hotel businessman, spent $1,250,000.00 to build the famous hotel. The Baker Hotel has 14 stories, which puts it on the international list of skyscrapers. The Baker Hotel has 452 rooms, two complete spas, and claimed to be the second U.S. hotel with a swimming pool and the first Olympic-size swimming pool in the United States.
Some of the famous names to appear on the Baker Hotel guest list include Judy Garland, Clark Gable, the Three Stooges, Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird, Roy Rogers, Will Rogers, Marlene Dietrich, Mary Martin, General Pershing, Dorothy Lamour, Sammy Kaye, Jack Dempsey, Helen Keller, and Ronald Reagan.
The famous Big Bands of the era, such as the Dorsey Brothers, played the Sky Room at the top of the hotel or in the first floor Brazos Room. Lawrence Welk spoke of his times at the Baker early in his career. Guy Lombardo is another Big Band leader who also played the Baker Hotel.
Although it opened two weeks after the stock market crash, the lure of bathing in the area’s lithium-rich “crazy water”. But in the 1940s, the stars stopped coming after the federal Food and Drug Administration ordered Mineral Wells to stop making medical claims about its waters.
Earl Baker himself announced that he would be closing the hotel after the passing of his seventieth birthday in 1963. True to his word, Baker shuttered the building on April 30 of that year, bringing an end to thirty years of service to Mineral Wells and surrounding areas. The hotel re-opened in 1965 when a group of local investors leased the structure from the Baker family, but the revival would be brief and marred by the death of Earl Baker of a heart attack in 1967 after he was found unconscious on the floor of the cavernous Baker Suite. The last guest checked out in 1972 and the Baker quickly began to deteriorate.
Thanks to http://www.statesman.com, According to The man who restored Austin’s Driskill and Dallas’ Stoneleigh hotels to their former grandeur is now biting off a much tougher renovation assignment: the 79-year-old Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells.
“We’re anticipating having a destination resort and spa,” said Jeff Trigger, who will oversee the renovation and operate the hotel. The City of Mineral Wells will buy the hotel for $2.2 million from its Arizona owner and put about $52 million more into its restoration
Trigger said the Baker Hotel’s rooms will be expanded and number pared down to 155. There will also be meeting rooms. But the biggest venture is bringing back the mineral-water spa. “The spa is a big component of the redevelopment,” Trigger said. “Mineral Wells is about mineral wells.” The third floor of the hotel will be a spa, he said, and there might also be mineral baths outdoors. The hotel’s pool will also be restored. Construction would take at least two years, Trigger said.
Kevin Pruitt of Austin is making a documentary about the history of the Baker, and the Hunter Chase group has been using its eight-minute trailer as a selling point for financing. The film is called Ballad of the Baker. The renovation is hopefully going to be completed in 2012 – 2013!
View the trailer HERE!
The beautiful photographs of the Baker Hotel were done by Nadia Caffesse.
Check out the Baker Hotel on Facebook!
Have a ghoulish Halloween weekend and do not forget to book your next vacation at the Baker Hotel when it is compelted!