Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Ghosts of the Baker Hotel
Editor's Note: I lived near Mineral Wells for over 20 years. Anyone who comes to town, has to pass right by the Baker Hotel. It is still a beautiful building, one that is now sorely in disrepair and up for sale.
Every time I passed by the Baker, I would have the feeling that some unseen entity was peering down from one of the upper windows. A time or two, I could have sworn that someone, or something actually was staring down, as I passed. Maybe it was just a shadow, or trick of light but it had human form.
I once spoke with an elderly gentleman, who worked for many years as a bell hop at the Baker. He spoke fondly of the place and some of it's celebrity guests, such as Will Rogers, Clarke Gable, Marlene Dietrich, Mary Martin, Judy Garland, Jean Harlow, Helen Keller, Sammy Kaye, Jack Dempsey, General Pershing, L.B.J., Ronald Reagan, and many others.
The sulfered mineral waters that Mineral Wells was famous for was a big draw, as well as the spas and one of the first Olympic sized pools in the United States. 1929 saw the opening of the Baker Hotel, built and owned by T.B. Baker. The Hotel closed in 1963, reopened again, then closed for good in 1970.
There was talk of ghosts residing at the Baker long before it closed in 1970. In 1967, Earl Baker, nephew of T.B. Baker was visiting the Baker Hotel, when he was suddenly struck down by a massive heart attack. Maybe his spirit is among those residing there, along with memories of a star studded, more glamorous time.
- Phantom Universe
The Ghosts of the Baker Hotel
by Bob Hopkins - texasescapes.com
The Woman on the Seventh Floor
The stories of ghosts and hauntings began in the Baker long before it ever closed. A porter who worked there during the 1950's and 1960's was the first known to witness the ghost of the woman on the seventh floor. She was possibly the mistress of the hotel manager. Distraught from her affair she jumped to her death from the top of the building. The year of the incident has not been verified but the room she stayed in, apparently quite comfortably, was a suite on the southeast corner of the seventh floor. Many have reported smelling her perfume and her spirit is said to be quite flirtatious with men she may fancy.
Recently a woman, who worked as a maid in the hotel, reported that on several occasions she found glasses in the room with red lipstick stains on the rims. This took place at times when no one was staying in the room.
Jane Catrett who is assisted by Ronny Walker now manages the building. Ronny manages tours of the building on weekends when time allows and is quite knowledgeable on the history of the hotel as well as the reports of a few sightings of disembodied guests.
Ronny reported one night he was near the main lobby on the first floor when he heard the distinct sound of a woman in high heals walking across the lobby. Thinking the footsteps to be those of Jane Catrett he yelled out her name; however, the footsteps faded away and upon further inspection, Ronny found himself all alone. Later he discovered that Jane had not been in the building that day.
On another occasion, Ronny reported being on the 7th floor re-setting an electrical breaker to the Christmas lights, which continuously tripped every night during display. As he was inspecting the fuse box, attempting to locate the breaker switch, he heard the footsteps of an unseen person walking up to his left - quietly - as if not to bother him. A bit startled, he turned to look and saw no one. Ronny spoke to the possible ghosts and assured them he meant no harm. After that night the lights never tripped off again.
The "Brazos Room"
Another incident occured during a tour of the hotel by a group of W.W.II veterans and their spouses. As the group entered the "Brazos Room" on the first floor, which was the main dining room and dance area, a couple suddenly stopped. The woman looked at her husband and asked, "Do you hear that?" He replied, "Why, I certainly do". About that time several other people in the group began to hear sounds of dishes and silverware clanking as well as people talking with orchestra music in the background. Most of the people there reported this event. It has never happened before nor since - according to the source - but the witnessess were sure they were experiencing the ghostly echoes of a time long past.
Fresh Air Ghosts
A young woman who worked at a local drive-through bank in the early 1990's reported that she and other tellers had their workstations facing the huge hotel. During slow times they noticed hotel windows open on various floors. Later they would notice these windows closed and others would be open. After awhile they began to take note and count which were opened and closed. The pattern changed.
One of the girls told the others "it must be the man who lives in the building and takes care of it". After that, the interest ceased and they stopped noticing. The strange thing is, no one has ever stayed in the Baker at any time since its closure in 1970. There never was a caretaker. So just who was opening and closing the windows?
The Anonymous Psychic, Nostalgic Ghosts and a Shaggy Dog
In the spring of 2000, I spoke with a local Mineral Wells woman who claimed to be a psychic. She has wished to remain anonymous for fear of ridicule in such a small town and I, for one, certainly understand.
She told me, ever since she was a young girl, she has had the ability to see spirits. She said she had been in the Baker many times and had even managed a shop on the outside first floor back in the early 1980s. She said the stories are true. The Baker is very haunted - but not like we think. Most ghosts didn't necessarily die at the Baker, but returned after death because the hotel represented a wonderful time in their lives.
She went on to say that most of the spirits in the hotel do not want to be seen or heard with the exception of a small child. A little boy, about six to eight years old, was the only one to communicate with her. He told her he died in a hotel apartment in 1933 when his parents were seeking medicinal treatment for his leukemia.
She reported a large shaggy dog always accompanied the child. He also bounced a ball to get her attention and " he was watched by an unknown older woman who was always near him."
The psychic went on to tell me the spirits don't necessarily look the age they were when they died. Some were employees of the building. One she said, for reasons she doesn't understand, was a helicopter pilot who attended basic flight training at Ft. Wolters in the 1960's. He was killed in a helicopter crash while at Ft. Rucker, Alabama. He had returned to the Baker with his body in the same traumatic state that resulted from the crash.
For more of the story, photos and to read about the investigations, go here>>.