Benjamin Gibson Photography

A venue to bring new work to the Interwebs as quickly as I can produce it.

From a recent trip to Mineral Wells, TX.

A series of photographs from the Baker Hotel.

©Benjamin Gibson

"Mineral Wells, Texas was starting to grow because The mineral waters were beginning to be known world wide as a cure all for many types of illnesses. The water was big business. Nine citizens of Mineral Wells got together to raise money to build a large resort hotel. They raised $150,000.00 with the help of 253 stockholders.  All they needed was someone with the know how to get the project started. T. B. Baker of the Baker Hotels was contacted in 1925 and agreed to take over the project for the stockholders. Mr. Baker was one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the state of Texas at the time. Familiar with the mineral bath concept in Mineral Wells, this gave T. B. Baker an opportunity to have a different kind of hotel catering to people seeking the benefit of the curing waters. The Mineral Wells Hotel Company was formed and headed by T.B. Baker. Wyatt C. Hedrick was hired as the architect to design the Hotel after the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, another hotel known for it’s water and baths. The Mineral Wells hotel has similar designs to the Arlington Hotel. Mr Hedrick was not an architect but a structual engineer. Because of the lack of licensing back then he was able to work as a architect and practice that profession. Work began on the hotel in 1926 but was stopped after Mr. Baker made a trip to California. He had visited a hotel with a swimming pool and decided the new Baker Hotel must have one in the front of the hotel. The hotel site was then moved back and the existing structure of the basement was kept and the swimming pool was placed on top of the site where the hotel was to be built. This allowed the area under the pool to be utilized as work areas for the hotel and also a changing area for guests was placed under the pool. The pool was an olympic sized above the ground pool to be filled with the curing mineral waters. It was the first swimming pool built for a hotel in Texas. The Baker Hotel was to be 14 stories with 450 rooms for guests and was the first skyscraper to be built outside a major metropolitan area. The hotel was said to be a "Spainish Revial Commercial High Rise." Mr. Baker had many modern ideas for the hotel such as circulating ice water for the guest rooms which he used in many of his other hotels. The hotel was to be fully air conditioned which was a novelty during this time. Also the lights and fans were controlled by the key lock on the guest’s room doors. When the guest left the room and locked the door the lights and fans went off. Valet doors were also installed so the guests might place clothing to be cleaned in them and not be disturbed by the employee that came to remove the items for cleaning. The Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells, opened it’s doors November 9, 1929 and it’s grand opening was November 22, 1929 just two weeks after the great stock market crash.  The Baker Hotel closed in 1972 due to slim profits. Today the Baker Hotel of Mineral Wells sits empty waiting for someone to give it new life. The stores on the ground floor were available to rent out and the lobby floor was rented out for weddings and meetings. Tours were given by volunteers well versed in the hotel’s history. Sadly the roof of the hotel is in need of repairs and leaks have caused great damage to the "Grand Old Lady" of Mineral Wells. Many people fall in love with the Baker and have the desire to repair her but sadly to restore her would cost about thirty million dollars. So The Baker sits waiting for the day that someone will again restore her to her glory…"

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