Historically known for the legendary healing properties of the water, The Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells, Texas was opened in 1929, two weeks after the great stock market crash.
Rising 14 floors, The Baker Hotel was the first skyscraper built outside of a major metropolitan area. Costing $1.2 million to build, the hotel was developed by Texas entrepreneur T.B. Baker and featured progressive hotel amenities including the first Olympic size hotel swimming pool, air conditioning, circulating ice water for the guest rooms, automatic light controls to turn off lights when guests leave the room and lock their doors, and valet doors for dry cleaning to keep hotel employees from disturbing the guests.
Doing well throughout the Great Depression, the Baker hosted many celebrity music performers such as Lawrence Welk, Jack Amlung, Herbie Kaye, Guy Lombardo, Mary Martin and Paul Whiteman and a long list of legendary guests including Lyndon Johnson, Pat Boone, Jack Dempsey, Marlene Dietrich, Dale Evans, Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Will Rogers, Roy Rogers, Elliot Rossevelt, the Three Stooges, and Bonnie and Clyde.
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 Party conventions 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.
As a tribute to its storied past as one of Texas’ most famous historic hotels, The Baker Hotel is being resurrected and restored to resemble its former glory – complete with a beautifully-preserved hotel facility, a fully-renovated collection of 157 guest rooms, the revival of the hotel’s famous natural spring spas, world-class business and convention facilities, over 11,000 sq. ft. of retail and shopping space, and so much more. Visit The Baker Hotel website for the latest news on the project.
reprinted from The Baker Hotel website and Wikipedia | video by Kevin Pruitt