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THE BAKER HOTEL IN MINERAL WELLS

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In 1877 Judge James A. Lynch settled in a Texas valley 48 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 the water. 

From these beginnings the fortunes of Mineral Wells would rise. 

For decades many visitors came to Mineral Wells to drink the Crazy Water. 

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. 

CLICK HERE FOR A MAP AND DIRECTIONS TO THE BAKER HOTEL IN MINERAL WELLS

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  click a thumbnail to view a photo 

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 BAKER HOTEL

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.

The Baker Hotel now has an Official Website

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. 

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In 1926 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. 

minwell23.jpg (49998 bytes) 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 deteriorate.
Below is a very good Baker Hotel YouTube video showing it in its heyday.
minwell4.jpg (29968 bytes) 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.
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Downtown Mineral Wells looks like a ghost town on this particular Saturday night.

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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.

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A close up look at the ballroom and outdoor walking area on the roof of the hotel.

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From the backside of the Baker, a massive chimney venting the Titanic era boilers in the basement.

The YouTube video below gives you a good look at the current condition of the Baker Hotel

bird.jpg (44607 bytes) 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.
baker3.jpg (40362 bytes) 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 1950s 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.

Woodrow L. 
Arlington Heights, IL 

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