Checking in at the “haunted” Baker hotel

By

For as long as I could remember I have always heard stories of the “haunted” Baker hotel. So a friend of mine took a little day trip to see what we could find. Driving up to the front steps, I’ll admit it does give off ghostly vibes, though a beautiful structure nonetheless. You can’t actually go in due to all the boarded windows and caution tape littered around the property so we just walked the perimeter. Just the sight of the exterior was intriguing enough to snap over 300 photos, hoping one day they will bring this behemoth back to working order, I would stay there just for the stories alone. If your ever in or around Mineral Wells Texas, stop and take a look. Its worth your while. Heres a little back story.

At fourteen stories over Mineral Wells, house 450 guest rooms, two ballrooms, an in-house beauty shop, and other novelties such as a bowling alley, a gymnasium, and an outdoor swimming pool. Completed in 1929 with a price tag of $1.2 million, the mammoth building instantly dominated the city skyline and was the first skyscraper built outside a major metropolitan area. The Baker Hotel opened to the public on November 9, 1929 and celebrated with a grand opening celebration gala two weeks later on November 22. It boasted extravagant creature comforts such as an advanced hydraulic system that circulated ice water to all 450 guest rooms, lighting and fans controlled by the door locks that shut off and on automatically when the guest left or arrived in their rooms, and a valet compartment where guests could deposit soiled laundry that was accessible by hotel staff without them ever even having to enter the guest’s room. The hotel was fully air conditioned by the 1940s, which added to its appeal as a top-notch convention attraction, offering a meeting capacity of 2,500 attendees; a remarkable number considering that Mineral Wells was home to only approximately 6,000 residents in 1929.

After the war ended in 1945, Fort Wolters was closed and business suffered. A smaller renaissance came in 1951 when the Wolters facility was reopened as a helicopter base, and the Baker hosted the Texas Republican Partyconventions in 1952 and 1955, and the Texas Democratic Party held their convention at the Baker in 1954. Aside from these successes, business declined steadily through the 1950s and the proverbial final nail was driven by Earl Baker himself when he 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. In 1972, the Baker closed its doors for the last time and though several groups have made offers to rehabilitate the structure (the most recent in 2008), the building sits vacant and deteriorating from the ravages of nature and constant threats of vandalism.