Grand Lobby (by Noel Kerns)
The Baker Hotel Lobby, Mineral Wells, Texas.
The Baker Hotel, an infamous landmark here in Texas, was built in the late 1920’s in Mineral Wells, a town of about 30,000 people (at the time) about an hour and a half west of Dallas by hotel magnate T.B. Baker. For a town of this size, the Baker was an absolute mammoth of a Hotel, and completely dominated the skyline at the time, as it does to this very day.
I use the term “infamous” because of all the ghost stories surrounding this hotel. It’s widely regarded as the most haunted place in Texas, and one of the most haunted in the country. You can learn more about the Baker’s undead residents here.
So why would a modest little Texas town like Mineral Wells suddenly need a massive, 450 room luxury resort hotel in the middle of it? The answer is in the name of the town itself; the mineral wells located there, the water from which was regarded at the time as a cure for a whole range of illnesses, such as rheumatism and epilepsy.
For a time, the Baker became just what it’s creators had envisioned; a huge resort hotel and retreat for the health-conscious well-to-do from all over the country. In it’s heyday, it hosted such celebrities as Marlene Dietrich, Dorothy Lamour, Will Rodgers, Pat Boone, Tom Mix, Clyde Barrow, Jack Dempsey, Roy Rodgers, and the Three Stooges. Likewise, the Baker attracted some of the most popular musical acts of the day, such as Lawrence Welk and Guy Lombardo.
Around 1933, Mr. Baker passed ownership of the hotel to his nephew Earl Baker, who operated the hotel for the next 30 years. Earl had always said that when he turned 70, he would close down the Baker, and sure enough that’s exactly what he did on April 30th, 1963. In 1967, Earl was found lying on the floor, succumbing to a heart attack.
In 1965, under the guidance of a group of local leaders, the Baker was reopened, but sadly, her time had passed, and she was closed again in 1972, this time for good.
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