The Baker Hotel and Spa
201 East Hubbard St.
Mineral Wells 76067
By the Numbers:
157 guest rooms
Forlorn Baker Hotel to get a makeover as resort and spa
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The long-shuttered Baker Hotel may have taken a dip in the healing waters of economic development.
Authorities in Mineral Wells announced on June 20 a three-year, $65 million plan to revive the showcase hotel that once hosted celebrities, government officials and those seeking to bathe in the healing mineral waters from springs in the area.
In conjunction with the City of Mineral Wells, the owners and developers plan to restore the Spanish Colonial Revival hotel to its status as a premier wellness-focused resort via a public-private partnership. The project’s backers include Laird A. Fairchild of Hunter Chase Construction and Development, Chad Patton of Wells Fargo Advisors, G. Brint Ryan of Ryan LLC, Randy Nix of Nix Rental Homes, Jeffrey M. Trigger of La Corsha Hospitality Group, Mark Rawlings of Syndicated Contracting Services and Beth and Kurt Thiel of Thiel & Thiel. La Corsha has helped refurbish and restore The Driskill Hotel, Austin; The Hotel Saint George, Marfa; The Saint Anthony Hotel, San Antonio; and The Stoneleigh Hotel and Spa, Dallas.
The restoration won’t be without some major changes – and challenges. The 14-story hotel’s 450 small guest rooms will become 157 larger rooms in a nod to modern sensibilities. The timeframe is three years. And while all the pieces seem to be in place for a success, past attempts to bring the hotel back have been met with difficulties.
Fairchild, who has been involved in efforts to revive the landmark for many years, is confident.
“This is a great day for Mineral Wells,” he said. “The Baker Hotel and Spa will be the crown jewel in a much larger plan to re-establish Mineral Wells as a destination for the weekend traveler – much in the same way that Magnolia has spurred interest in Waco.”
Fairchild believes The Baker will attract visitors from across Texas, those seeking a luxurious getaway as well as those who want a small-town Texas experience.
“In addition, with plenty of hospitality space, we believe The Baker will be an enormously popular spot for weddings, corporate gatherings and other special events that will provide additional economic benefit to Mineral Wells,” he said.
Southlake developer Fairchild has been working for several years to restore The Baker, which dominates downtown Mineral Wells. It was designed by Fort Worth architect Wyatt C. Hedrick and opened in 1929. It was reportedly modeled after the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, a favorite of Texas hotel magnate Theodore Brasher Baker, who had been chosen by Mineral Wells leaders to build a hotel to bring in tourists and others seeking access to the healing properties of the area.
Fairchild said plans for hotel amenities include a natural springs-based spa, more than 20,000 square feet of meeting and event spaces, ballrooms, and restaurant, coffee shop and retail options. The local mineral springs that once drew celebrities from around the world will be used again, according to The Baker Hotel website.
“The resurrection of The Baker would not be possible without the overwhelming support of the citizens of Mineral Wells,” said Patton. “From the start, they have been very vocal in their belief that this project would be a cornerstone in the redevelopment of downtown. The city government worked tirelessly with our team to put in place a public-private partnership that made sense for everyone. We also must thank Gov. Abbott for designating this project and a majority of downtown Mineral Wells as an Opportunity Zone. That designation was the linchpin that helped pull all this together and make this long-term investment possible. This project is a substantial commitment that greatly enhances the renaissance of this wonderful city.”
In its heyday, The Baker offered mineral baths, a golf course and three dance floors, including one in a rooftop nightclub with doors that would swing open on summer nights. Hollywood stars such as Jean Harlow, Judy Garland and Clark Gable strolled the halls of its ballrooms, but in the 1940s, the federal Food and Drug Administration ordered Mineral Wells to stop making medical claims about its mineral waters and traffic at the property dropped off.
The Baker had opened as the country was entering the Great Depression, and is owners filed for bankruptcy in 1932, but the hotel stayed open until 1963. It remained closed until 1965, when it re-opened, then closed again in 1972. Even before it closed, stories about ghosts in the hotel were circulated. One of the most famous involves the ghost of the mistress of a hotel manager who jumped to her death from the roof. Her presence is reportedly felt on the seventh floor.
Time after time, rumors have floated that a buyer was on the brink of picking up the hotel and transforming it into either a mixed-use development, a casino or condominiums – but nothing solid materialized until now.
Fairchild said the hotel will employ about 120 full-time equivalent jobs when it opens.
The Baker Hotel is hardly the only area in Mineral Wells set for economic development. In April, the city received a report from Hawes Hills & Associates LLP about developing a comprehensive economic development plan for the city. The report had 41 recommendations. Among them is to see The Baker as an asset, not an economic savior for the city. Other areas of downtown are also expected to see revival as well as the economic development plan takes shape.
Mineral Wells is about 50 miles west of Fort Worth and has a population of over 15,000. Aside from The Baker and other hotels catering to people seeking access to the mineral waters, it was also once home to Fort Wolters, a U.S. military installation four miles northeast of Mineral Wells. During World War II it was one of the largest infantry replacement training centers in the county. It was an Army helicopter training facility during the Vietnam War and was deactivated in 1973. The site is now an industrial business park.