The luxurious Baker Hotel is situated in Mineral Wells, Texas and it was built in a new era when skyscrapers became symbols of the metropolises of the modern United States of America. The Baker Hotel was the first skyscraper built outside of a major metropolitan area and was opened in 1929 – now the Baker Hotel is abandoned and in derelict condition.
The story of the impressive building with its 14 floors began in 1922. The citizens of Mineral Wells didn’t like the fact that non-locals were profiting extensively from the healing water of the city’s mineral springs.
They began to collect money in an effort to built a large resort complex owned by local investors. Theodore Brasher Baker, a famous hotel magnate from Texas, was chosen to build the hotel. He had previous experience in building, designing, and managing grand hotels in the state.
The creator of the original design of the building was the architect Wyatt C. Hedrick. He based the plan of the hotel on the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which known for its baths, curative waters, and therapeutic treatments.
The construction of the hotel began in 1926, but it was halted after Theodore Baker saw a hotel with a swimming pool in California and decided that Baker Hotel should also have a large swimming pool. As a result of this, an Olympic-sized pool was added to the front of the hotel. It was the first swimming pool constructed at a hotel in Texas.
Construction continued the same year and was finished after three years. The grand 14-story hotel had 450 guest rooms, a few shops, two ballrooms, and other comforts like a gymnasium, bowling alley, and outdoor swimming pool filled with mineral waters. Early examples of modern innovations like automatic lights and air conditioning were also included in the hotel. The building, which cost $1.2 million (over $16 million today), immediately became a symbol of the city. The gigantic building dominated the city’s horizon.
The hotel flourished in the 1930s, although it opened only a few weeks after the 1929 stock market crash. While most Americans struggled with financial problems during the Great Depression, the Baker Hotel was visited by wealthy and famous guests.
Actors, musicians, and other notable people of the era were frequent guests in Mineral Wells and in the hotel, including people like Judy Garland, Glenn Miller, and Clark Gable. The Baker Hotel quickly became a well-known spa center.
The hotel’s popularity began to decline in the beginning of the 1940s. The local doctors, who had been telling their patients to use the city’s health spring waters for improving the health, suddenly began to encourage them to use more modern medical innovations, like antibiotics. These medical developments contributed to the gradual collapse of the hotel. The Baker Hotel had another brief period of prosperity during War World II. In 1940, the Fort Wolters military base was opened near Mineral Wells, which was the largest infantry placement in World War II.
Because of the increased number of inhabitants in the area, the hotel once again became successful. After the war, the base was closed. Over the following years, the Baker Hotel had a few brief moments of success, but these did not even approach the level of its highest popularity. In 1963, the owner Earl Baker, a nephew of Theodore Baker, announced that he had financial problems and that he would close the hotel. The hotel was closed the same year, after being open for 30 years.
In 1965, local investors rented the building from the Baker family, and the hotel was reopened for several years. However, this phase of the business was brought to an end when Earl Baker died of a heart attack in 1967. He was found dead on the floor of the Baker Suite. The hotel finally closed its doors in 1972. After that, several reconstruction and revival projects were attempted.
The Baker Hotel was slowly overgrown by vegetation and was a frequent target of vandalism. In 2014 the city authorities began a major renovation and restoration project for the deteriorating building.
The ghostly appearance of the imposing abandoned structure of the Baker Hotel with its empty rooms, corridors, and the large halls is eerie and suggestive of the supernatural. Even before its closure, paranormal activities were reported by some occupants. Most notable is that of the ghost of a woman on the 7th floor. Guests and employees reported how someone appeared to be staying in a room, smelling perfume and finding glasses with traces of red lipstick on them.
It is believed that it was the spirit of the hotel manager’s mistress. She killed herself by jumping from the roof of the hotel. Locals say that her ghost still walks the empty floors of the Baker Hotel to this day. Strange sounds coming from the empty structure are still reported. But perhaps these stories are only the effect of a mysterious past and the wish to keep the building’s legacy alive.