You wouldn’t think that in 1929, two weeks after the stock market crashed, opening up an extravagant and high-priced hotel in Mineral Wells Texas would be an idea and a project that we’d still be talking about to this day. However, that is the case of the Baker Hotel.
You might think “Why Texas, and Why Mineral Wells?” However for those unfamiliar with Texas, 50 miles west of Ft. Worth is the city of Mineral Wells, known historically for its healing properties in it’s water. In fact before this hotel was built the city had 46 hotels and boarding houses by the year 1909, and by 1910 they were welcoming around 150,000 people a year who were all looking to take a dip in the mineral waters themselves. In 1920, just 10 years later, the new-booming city had at least 400 mineral wells that visitors could use. Then, in 1929 comes Texas entrepreneur T.B. Baker. The hotel at the time cost $1.2 Million to build, and was the first of its kind outside of a major metropolitan area. As a guest you could enjoy amenities such as air conditioning, circulating ice water, automatic light controls, and valet doors for dry cleaning so that the hotel employees wouldn’t disturb the many the guests. According to the Ft. Worth Star Telegram the Baker Hotel opened with state-of-the-art features including “mineral baths, an Olympic-size swimming pool and a rooftop nightclub known as the Cloud Room, where old-timers could recall hearing music stream out across town at night”. In addition to the swimming pools and night club, the 14-story Baker Hotel was an immense architectural find for the celebrity looking to still find ways to spend money throughout the great depression and the years after. Hollywood Stars such as Judy Garland, Clark Gable, Roy Rogers, and the Three Stooges all made their way to Texas to take a dip, and a stay in the Baker Hotel.
The stars however, would find other places to go, and new sights to see. By the 1940’s, with WWII in full effect, Mineral Wells had become a military town and the halls and rooms that held celebrities and politicians, now held green-outfitted men either preparing or taking a break from the war a world away. The hotel would never see the night clubs full of youth, and excitement again. In fact The Baker closed it’s doors in 1963, and found enough backing to open two years later once again. However the last guests checked in, and out in the year 1972.
Years later, the Baker stood tall in the city of Mineral Wells yet the windows were boarded up, and nearly everything of value stripped from its walls. People took anything they could find like lamps, strips of wallpaper, pictures, mirrors, and of course silverware.
Now, before you get too heartbroken about this magnificent hotel, I need to note that the Baker Hotel plans to open it’s doors once again, however this time with some major changes. While here in this auction you can get a piece of this storied hotels’ past, the future of it looks bright and has the people of Mineral Wells excited for the first time in a long, long time. When the Baker Hotel re-opens there still be the famous pool & fountain, the lobby will be restored to it’s original beautiful architecture, the Presidential Suite on the 10th floor will be restored (as well as the Baker Suite on the 11th). That however, will be all that will be the same. Instead of the 450 rooms that the Baker Hotel originally had, it will now be scaled down to 155. The street-level floor where the kitchen is currently located will have retail space, and a diner and coffee shop. Several of the banquet halls will be transitioned into other purposes for the hotel, and the current gymnasium will become a meeting space, full of breakout rooms, and a small kitchen for if you needed that sort of thing. The new 14,000 Spa will be separated into men’s and women’s areas, and a new fitness area will be added. However even with all of this, the Baker Hotel will still sit, 50 miles west of Ft. Worth as one of the most storied, and unique landmarks throughout the state of Texas.
The knife which is inscribed Baker Hotel Co. is up for auction as a part of lot #751 in our October Local Consignment Auction.