Tonight I needed to get out of the house.
So I threw the camera in the truck and headed west.
I eventually ended up in Mineral Wells.
I need to go back when I have the time to spend photographing this town "right." There’s a lot more to see.
Mineral Wells is an odd little town of about 15,000 people out in Palo Pinto county once famous for the "medicinal" powers of the many nearby mineral springs that gave the town its name. For example, water from the "Crazy Well" was said to be able to cure mental illness, among other maladies. I have heard people say that one of the minerals in the water in particularly elevated concentrations is lithium, so there may be something to that belief…
It’s hard to drive through the town without noticing this building. This is the Baker Hotel. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the place:
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. [From Bo: Notice the bad timing — this was less than a month after the stock market crash at the beginning of the Great Depression!]
T.B. Baker, a wealthy hotel businessman, spent $1,250,000.00 to build the famous hotel. 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 building has 14 stories (which puts it on the international list of skyscrapers), 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.
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. In addition to this, many celebrities stayed at The Baker including Welk, Judy Garland, Clark Gable, The Three Stooges, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans. A local legend also contends that Bonnie and Clyde stayed in the hotel one one occasion under an alias.
The building was in constant use from 1929 to 1963, including a three year period during World War II in which it served as military dependent quarters. The building sat vacant for two years until 1965, when a group of Mineral Wellians re-opened the Baker, but it would not last. The final guest checked out in 1972 and the Baker quickly began to deteriorate.
Supposedly the building is haunted. I especially like the story from TexasEscapes.com about the ghost on the 7th floor:
The stories of ghosts and hauntings began in the Baker long before it ever closed. A porter who worked there during the 1950’s and 1960’s was the first known to witness the ghost of the woman on the seventh floor. She was possibly the mistress of the hotel manager. Distraught from her affair she jumped to her death from the top of the building. The year of the incident has not been verified but the room she stayed in, apparently quite comfortably, was a suite on the southeast corner of the seventh floor. Many have reported smelling her perfume and her spirit is said to be quite flirtatious with men she may fancy.
Amy · 29 July 2008 at 9:48 PM
Love the pic, especially the peeping stars, and the new look of the site.
T.D. · 5 September 2008 at 7:45 PM
Beautiful Picture of the Baker.
Kyndra · 22 January 2009 at 12:31 PM
I have know about Mineral Wells for my whole life…I only live 20 minutes away, but I was under the impression that it was some rinky dink hole in the wall town that didn’t have much to offer anyone. I recently went to visit my young cousin who is staying down there for college and was blown away by the great amount of history that this small town has to offer. I was instantly drawn to the Baker and although it is closed to the public by the fire marshall it is still not trespassing to enter it. If you get caught you can recieve a citation and up to but not more than 500.00 to me that is a very small price to pay to be able to re live such a wonderful and active past. Did you go inside? My cousin and I are planning a trip there first in the daylight to get to know what it’s like and then at night with some bought off the internet paranormal investigation tools. Well if you have time please let me know about more about your experience…and my cousin and I are trying to find a male tag along for protection lol.
Bo · 26 January 2009 at 12:27 AM
Hey Kyndra. Thanks for stopping by the site. When I went I was alone, so I didn’t venture inside. Whether or not it’s worth fearing the law or the paranormal is up for debate, but I’ve spent enough time in that part of Texas to know that rattlesnakes are another matter! If I had somebody to drag my butt to the hospital (or that the very least call 911!) maybe it would have been different.
You should check out the photos this guy took:
He’s got some great shots of the inside!
Natasha · 11 March 2009 at 9:37 AM
I got to tour the baker from top to bottom about 3 years ago. The ultimate feeling you get when you first enter is indescribable; amazing to say the least. I, myself, got very spooked down in the basement where Douglas Moore was cut in half by the elevator. In the Mistress’s room, there was a shrine set up for her with fresh flowers. How they got there, I have no idea. The room smelled of classy perfume and her window’s were open. Later, I came back to take a picture of the shrine as the sun was setting, and only one window remained open. Hm. If you go inside, be sure and write a follow up. There are many interested people! =)
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