Focus on the Backroads » Photo Journeys

FOCUS ON THE BACKROADS: THE BAKER HOTEL – MINERAL WELLS TEXAS

The vision to build the Baker Hotel began in 1922 when the good folks of Mineral Wells, Texas raised $150,000 in an effort to build a large hotel/resort owned by  local shareholders.  The vision began over the concern that outsiders were profiting off the growing fame of the area’s mineral water.  They recruited the help of Theodore Brasher Baker, a Texas hotel magnate who had designed and built many grand hotels including the Baker Hotel in Dallas and the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth.  With the help of Architect Wyatt Hedricks the hotel design was based on the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which was famous for its water and baths.

Construction began in 1926.  During a trip to California Baker stayed in a Hotel with a swimming pool and decided the Baker Hotel need one out front.  An Olympic size pool filled with the curing mineral waters was to become the first swimming pool built at a hotel in Texas.

The hotel was completed in 1929.  Total cost for the project was $1,250,000.00.  It rose fourteen stories, had 450 guest rooms, two ballrooms, a beauty shop, a bowling alley, a gymnasium and of course an outdoor swimming pool.  It was the first skyscraper to be built outside of a major metropolitan area.  The hotel opened to the public on November 9, 1929.  Although at the time Mineral Wells had a population of only 6,000 people the Baker Hotel became a major convention facility.  It could accommodate  2,500 attendees.  Some notable guest at the time included Glenn Miller, Lawrence Welk, Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Dorthy Lamour, Will Rogers, Roy Rogers, The Three Stooges, Mary Martin, Helen Keller, Jack Dempsey, Marlene Dietrich, LBJ, and many others.  It is rumored that even Bonnie and Clyde may have spent time at the Baker.

In 1934 Theodore Baker filed for bankruptcy and passed control the hotel to Earl Baker, his nephew.  The hotel thrived  during the 1930s but suffered ups and downs throughout the 1940’s and 50’s.  Earl Baker announced that he would be closing the Baker after his 70th birthday and he officially did so on April 30, 1963.  It was re-opened in 1965 when a group of local investors leased the structure from the Baker family.  In 1972 the Baker closed it doors for the last time.

There are currently plans to restore the Baker Hotel to it’s previous glory.  Visit http://www.thebakerhotel.com

 

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