All photos taken by NATASHA MICHAEL
The Baker Hotel was unusual from the beginning. The lavish fourteen story resort opened just two weeks after the devastating stock market crash of 1929. While the rest of the country was submerged in the Great Depression, patrons of the Baker were drowning themselves in champagne and rubbing elbows with the rich and famous. Today, “The Grand Old Lady” of Mineral Wells, Texas is a rotting shell of her former self. She serves as both a figurative and literal tombstone of a dead town, towering over long- deserted shops and homes. Since closing her doors in 1972, the Baker Hotel has been left alone to cultivate moss, mold, and macabre legends about the spirits who may still occupy the abandoned behemoth.
The Baker alone knows its true ghoulish guests, but here is a list of who might haunt the Baker by floor.
EARL BAKER – THE 11TH FLOOR
Earl was the manager of the Baker Hotel for forty years. Citing financial interests in bigger cities and his old age, Earl vowed that he would close the hotel on his 70th birthday. It was a promise he kept. In 1963, Earl shuttered the Baker—much to the chagrin of the townspeople of Mineral Wells. Fearing a loss of tourism and revenue, local business owners scraped together enough funds to reopen the hotel with a skeleton crew. Interestingly, Earl returned to the ornate edifice just four years later; this time as a patron. On December 3, 1967, while relaxing in his spacious namesake suite on the 11th floor, Earl suffered a heart attack. He was rushed to the nearby Nazareth Hospital where he later died. It remains unclear why Earl returned to his beloved hotel, but it is certain he lived out some of his last moments in a room he knew very well. Perhaps he has returned yet again.
VIRGINIA BROWN – THE 7TH FLOOR
There is a long standing rumor that Earl had a mistress named Virginia Brown. Earl was allegedly very generous and let her live free of charge in a suite on the southeast corner of the 7th floor. But Virginia was not content for long. Virginia became so consumed by guilt over the affair that she jumped to her death from the hotel’s bell tower. A harrowing tale for sure, but is it true? There has never been any evidence of someone leaping from the bell tower. According to the Southwest Ghost Hunters Association, the southeast corner of the 7th floor included the rooms 714, 716, and 718. Those rooms were occupied by Earl’s Aunt Myla from 1933 until 1950. This would explain the gossip that a woman was living rent free on the 7th floor of the hotel. But there was a Virginia Brown living in Mineral Wells. In fact, there were three women who shared that name in the tiny town. One was a rather old widower and the other two women were married and living with their husbands. When the facts are considered, the mistress legend falls apart; but it’s still possible that one of these three Virginia Browns had a very dark secret.
THE OTHER JUMPER – THE POOL
There are actually two stories of someone leaping to their death from The Baker. An intoxicated patron mistakenly thought it would be a good idea to skip the stairs and just dive into the hotel’s swimming pool—from the ballroom balcony on the 12th Floor. A very fatal and very stupid decision indeed—if it were true. Again, there is no account of anyone ever leaping to their death from the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells. The origin of these ghastly legends may lie in a very real tragedy that happened at the Baker Hotel in Dallas, TX. According to the Denton Record, Dr. Clarence Moore committed suicide by jumping out of a 15th floor window of the downtown Dallas hotel of the same name on May 29, 1930.
DOUGLAS MOORE – THE 2ND FLOOR
Despite decades of morbid lore, only one person has suffered a particularly gruesome demise at the Baker Hotel. On January 17, 1948, a 16 year old elevator operator named Douglas Moore was fatally injured when he attempted to board a climbing service elevator and failed to make it all the way into the car. His body was crushed when he reached the second floor.
No one has ever reported seeing the ghost of poor Douglas Moore, and maybe no one ever will. The Baker Hotel’s current developers keep the decaying hotel tightly boarded up and enforce a strict fine for trespassing. They have been promising to return the hotel to its former grandeur in the very near future…but that may be the most elaborate myth of them all.