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Texas | Texas Haunted Places

The Ghosts of the Baker Hotel
by Bob Hopkins

Page 3

A Brief History of
The Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells

The stories of ghosts and hauntings
began in the Baker long before it ever closed.....

Page 1 | 2 | 3
Baker Hotel bridge and entrance, Mineral Wells, Texas
Close up of bridge and entrance
Photo courtesy Jason Grant
Once a very lavish hotel, the huge Baker was the site of many wonderful times. Set in the backdrop of the bustling early twentieth century, the Baker was a reflection of all that America was. The hotel, born at the beginning of the great depression, survived the financial hardships of the era to witness the greatest war mankind has ever seen.

Becoming one of the state's most lavish resorts, the Baker built a magnificent reputation that attracted people from all walks of life for one reason or another. One may find the history of the grand old hotel very interesting. That history could well be a key to some of its permanent guests.

In 1914 the Crazy Water Hotel was erected and became the center of activities. But a devastating fire in March 1925, destroyed most of the building. It was then that a man by the name of T. B. Baker, a wealthy hotel businessman, decided to build a grand hotel in Mineral Wells based on the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Baker owned several hotels throughout Texas at that time, including the St. Anthony, the Gunther, and Menger in San Antonio, the Stephen F. Austin in Austin, the Texas Hotel in Ft. Worth, the Baker in Dallas, the Goodhue in Port Arthur, the Galvez in Galveston, the Edson in Beaumont, and the Sterling in Houston.

Construction began in 1926 and was it was completed in 1929, at a cost of $1,250,000.00. The facility magnificently reflected the spirit of the "roaring twenties". It's fourteen storiestowered over the small town of 7,000 residents like a brown brick giant. It had 460 rooms, two complete spas, and what is said to be the first Olympic-size swimming pool in the United States. It rivaled any hotel in New York or Chicago.
Baker Hotel, Mineral Wells, Texas, post card
The Baker Hotel c. 1948
TE Postcard Archives
Many celebrities visited or performed at the Baker, according to old hotel registers. The Baker hosted the Three Stooges, Clarke Gable, Judy Garland, Will Rogers, Marlene Dietrich, General Pershing, L.B.J., Jean Harlow, Sammy Kaye, Jack Dempsey, Sam Rayburn, Helen Keller, Ronald Reagan and Mary Martin, just to name a few.

According to an article in "Palo Pinto County History Vol. 1", a waiter recalled a $2.00 tip given to him by outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, although he didn't recognize them at the time.

Many "Big Bands" blasted out their tunes from the "Sky Room" at the top of the building or in the first floor "Brazos Room." Lawrence Welk remembered his "starting out days" at the Baker when he still had difficulty with English. Other entertainers of the time that visited the Baker included Guy Lombardo, Paul Whiteman, Dorothy Lamour, and later, Pat Boone.

World War II ushered in a new era for the hotel with the growth of nearby Fort Wolters. The base eventually became the largest infantry replacement base in the country, with 30,000 soldiers passing through it's gates in 1942 alone. The Baker was then at its peak, catering to both civilians and military personnel.

Life in America, however, began to change by the 1950's. The FDA crackdown on inflated advertising on cure-all tonics and mineral waters changed the way we viewed medicine. New antibiotic drugs and preventive medicine soon became the healthcare mainstream as the need for mineral waters began to fade. The interstate highway system in the late 1960's re-routed the main flow of traffic out of Mineral Wells and I - 20, 14 miles south, cut off a major financial artery to the town.

In 1952, Mr. T. B. Baker, retired. Since he had no children, he left his hotel empire to his nephew, Earl Baker who was already a successful part of the business. Earl Baker lived in San Antonio and said he would continue to operate the Baker in Mineral Wells until his 70th birthday. True to his word, on April 30th, 1963, the Baker closed its doors. But not for long. A group of civic leaders managed to re-open the hotel in 1965, but with very little profit, the hotel closed for good in 1970.

In a strange twist of fate, Earl Baker was visiting the hotel for one last time on December 3, 1967 when he suddenly died of a massive heart attack. It was as if the hotel dealt him a vengeful blow for the years of declining glory and subjugated neglect.

In 1973, the Army closed Fort Wolters - yet another major blow to the Mineral Wells economy. By the late 1970's the city had lost one third of its population. The oil and gas industry moved in and sparked some hope, but by 1985 it too went bust -leaving the town once again desperate for an economic future.

Although the city of Mineral Wells has recovered to a small degree, it's once beautiful hillsides are slowly being depleted by brick plants and the factory-dependent town survives on an economic base, far below yesteryear's glory days and the fame of its healing waters.

Back to
The Ghosts of the Baker Hotel - Page 1 | 2

August 2002
Bob Hopkins, Weatherford

More on The Baker Hotel

  • The Ghosts of the Baker Hotel by Bob Hopkins.

  • The Baker Hotel
    by Johnny Stucco (From "Rooms with a Past" Series)

  • Haunting Photos of the Baker Hotel
    Photos courtesy Jason Grant

  • Floating at the Baker Hotel Cloud Room

    See Also
  • Mineral Wells, Texas
  • Mineral Wells Hotels > Book Hotel Here

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  • More Rooms with a Past
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