In 1877 Judge James A. Lynch settled in a Texas
miles west of Fort Worth. He dug a well for drinking
water but soon discovered it to be a healing mineral water. And so he named
the valley Mineral Wells.
Three years later a
third mineral water well was dug which became known as the Crazy Water
Well when a supposedly demented lady was thought to have been cured by drinking
From these beginnings the fortunes of Mineral Wells would
For decades many visitors came to Mineral Wells to drink the
Mineral Wells was known for many years as the South's
Greatest Health Resort. In 1929 the Baker Hotel opened to huge
success, despite the Great Depression.
Many famous people were guests of the
Baker Hotel. Such as Judy Garland, Clark Gable, the Three Stooges,
Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird, Will Rogers, Marlene Dietrich, Mary
Martin, General Pershing, Dorothy Lamour, Jean Harlow, Sammy Kaye, Jack Dempsey, Helen
Keller and Ronald Reagan. To name a few. The famous Big Bands of
the era played
the Sky Room at the top of the hotel or in the first
floor Brazos Room. Lawrence Welk spoke of his times at the Baker
early in his career. Guy Lombardo is another Big Band leader who
played the Baker Hotel.
GOOD NEWS FOR THE
After over 3 decades of
floundering in an ever increasing state of decay, with
numerous attempts by many to find some way to develop the
Baker Hotel for a modern use, the city of Mineral Wells has,
as of November, 2007, taken an active role in trying to
restore the hotel to its former glory. The city has created a
tax increment finance district hoping to entice potential
developers to re-vitalize the Baker. The city has a 14 month
agreement with the hotel's current owner to aggressively
market the building to developers. The city will be doing
feasibility and building examinations for the next 2 months.
We can save them some trouble, the structure is sound, but it
desperately needs a new roof.
Where you can check out menus from the
Baker Hotel's heyday and marvel at the prices, such as 2
Broiled African Lobster Tails for $3.65, Soup du Jour for 35
cents. Crabmeat Louie for $2.75 that comes with Garden Fresh
Brazos Club Salad, Blue Lake String Beans, Rissole Potatoes,
Hot Rolls and Butter. Half Spring Chicken with Chef's Salad
and Baked Potato for $1.75. Local Beer for 35 cents. Out of
State Beers 40 cents. Coffee a dime. Check out the Chef's
Special for $1.50, you get Roast Sirloin of Beef with Buttered
Noodles, Tossed Green Salad, Mashed Potatoes, Vegetables du
Jour, Hot Rolls & Butter and Coffee or Tea.
Baker Hotel construction began, with completion in late 1929. It cost $1,250,000.00. Built in the style of the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs,
Arkansas, not quite Art Deco, but still a product of the Roaring 20s.
The Baker Hotel has 14 stories, which puts it on the international list
of skyscrapers. This in a very small town. The Baker Hotel has 460
rooms, two complete spas, and what was claimed to be the first
Olympic-size swimming pool in the United States.
In 1952, the hotel's namesake, Mr. T. B. Baker, retired, leaving
his hotel empire to his nephew, Earl Baker, who closed the Baker Hotel
in 1963. In 1965 a group of Mineral Wellians re-opened the Baker, but
not for long. It closed for good in the 1970s and quickly began to
is a very good Baker Hotel YouTube video showing
it in its heyday.
Rumors of hauntings abound. Ghost hunters
take tours and spend the night. On the day these photos were taken,
11/16 2002, a group was preparing to take an after dark tour and spend
the night. A Canadian TV crew had been there earlier in the day
filming a show about ghost sightings. The photo to the left looks down
the walkway outside the Baker.
Downtown Mineral Wells looks like a ghost
town on this particular Saturday night.
A view of the Baker from the bluff
overlooking Mineral Wells. This photo is a good view of how massive
the structure is and how it dominates the little town.
A close up look at the ballroom and
outdoor walking area on the roof of the hotel.
From the backside of the Baker, a
massive chimney venting the Titanic era boilers in the basement.
YouTube video below gives you a good look at the current condition of
the Baker Hotel
In this photo it appears a bird is the
only current resident in the hotel, sitting on the balcony which sticks
out from the ballroom, 14 stories high.
A postcard from the era when the Baker Hotel was one of
the nation's prime tourist destinations, people coming from all over for
the curative powers of the Crazy Water. In
the FDA cracked down on cure-all tonics and unsubstantiated claims of
medicinal value. Ironically, decades later, it was discovered that Crazy
Water contains small amounts of the salt compound known as lithium.
Lithium carbonate came to be regularly used to control manic depression
in the U.S. in the 1960's.
In the 1990s
Mineral Wells was discovered for a new reason. That being Lake Mineral
Wells State Park with one of the most heavily used rock climbing areas
in Texas, an ominous place called Penitentiary
Hollow. And in 1998
the Lake Mineral Wells State Trailway opened with much Texas hoopla. At
over 20 miles, the former rail line is one of the longest hiking and
biking trails in Texas.
Thanks for having this web site, it brought back many memories. I grew up in Mineral Wells during the 1950s-60s, my first job was at the Baker Hotel as a bus-boy in the restaurant on the first floor. Sorry to say but the town is a far cry from what it was in it's glory days. I'm almost brought to tears when I visit Mineral Wells and ride down the city streets and see that they are all but deserted. With the closing of the Baker Hotel and Ft. Wolters Mineral Wells all but tore the heart out of this small town. What a shame.