MINERAL WELLS (CBSDFW.COM) – An eyesore to some, but a beautiful piece of architectural history to others, the shell of the historic Baker Hotel looms over Mineral Wells.
You can see in distance doors are boarded up and when you get closer you can see windows shattered and debris covering the ground.
“I call her the grand lady,” said Mineral Wells Mayor Mike Allen. “Once she gets under your skin she just draws you in. There is something about her that is magical almost.”
The hotel was a luxurious spa destination when it opened in 1929 attracting movie stars such as Clark Gable and Judy Garland.
But it has been abandoned since 1972.
“My late husband said all I had to do was breath when I lived in the Baker hotel,” said Alleen Stringer, who lived at the Baker Hotel with her husband who was a retired Lt. Colonel in the Air Force.
The 85-year-old still carries her hotel key everywhere she goes.
“It means so much to me because I have so many wonderful memories there,” said Stringer. “I became engaged there in 1951.”
A Southlake developer wants to revive the hotel.
The group has raised most of the $56-million dollars it will take to restore the Baker to its former glory.
“We see the past — we see what it was back in the 20’s, 30s and 40s and we believe the history of that hotel has the opportunity to revive that community,” said Chad Patton, who is part of the development team for the Baker Hotel. “What we see is a 4 star destination resort and spa what it was in the 20s and 30s.”
There is now so much interest in the restoration that it’s being documented by a film crew.
The movie is called the “Ballad of the Baker.”
The hotel has long lured those nearby, but soon the small town hopes it will bring in new visitors from faraway lands.
“Brings tears to my eyes to think about it,” said Mayor Allen. “I don’t think we can imagine what it will really do.”
The developers said they hope to have all the funding in place by the end of the year and then construction to begin soon after.
They also are hoping for a possible grand opening in 2017.
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