Standing Tall in Mineral Wells: The Baker Hotel

The Texas Story Project.

14 stories tall.  450 rooms.  Almost 300,000 square feet.  And not one guest since 1972.  It was the ever-present, looming structure that towered over my childhood.  Before I ever learned to ride a bicycle (much less spell bicycle) in my hometown of Mineral Wells, I had obsessed over all the facts and crazy stories relating to my very favorite building in Texas: The Baker Hotel.  

In the early 80’s my father took me to the big “sell off” of all things Baker Hotel by the then-current owners. Anything that could be unscrewed, pried off, unhinged, or had enough flat surface to attach a price tag was being sold off like discarded parts from a used car.  I was heartbroken, devastated, and incredibly concerned. “What if the guests want to come back and check into their rooms?” I annoyingly asked my dad over and over again.  Needless to say, I proudly walked out of that fire-sale empty handed.  I thought that history was ONLY about objects, things I could see and touch, and I wasn’t going to be responsible for removing The Baker Hotel’s history.  But I was too young to see the bigger picture...

Fast forward 30+ years - with renewed hopes of restoration, “The Grand Old Lady” stands more proudly than ever.  She still holds a very special place not only in my heart, but countless other Texans across this great state.  I’ve now realized replacing those furnishings in the Baker will be the easy part, actually I should probably say easier part.  But more importantly, I finally understand the true challenge will be to bring the people back, to fill its halls and rooms with not just warm bodies, but new stories AND new memories.  When that day comes, and it will, I’ll finally rest easy knowing that the guests can come back anytime and check into their rooms.  

Born and raised in Mineral Wells, video producer and director Kevin Pruitt currently lives in Austin, Texas

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