The Ghostly World of Austin, Texas, describes the many ghost sightings at the Driskill Hotel, which is said to be the most haunted building in the Texas capital. But Texas is also home to another grand, and some say haunted, old hotel with an intriguing past.
History of the Baker Hotel
The Baker Hotel seems to have been cursed from the start. It opened for business just two weeks after the 1929 stock market crash known as Black Monday that set off the Great Depression. Hotel magnate T.B. Baker built the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells, a town about 80 miles west of Dallas that was known for its mineral water springs.
Mineral Wells was already a popular retreat for those seeking rest and the supposed curative effects of the water, dubbed “Crazy Water” because it reportedly made a crazy woman sane. In fact, there was already a luxury hotel in Mineral Wells called the Crazy Water Hotel. It was rebuilt after burning down in 1925, but at only seven stories high, it paled in comparison to the Baker with its 14 stories and 460 rooms.
The Baker Hotel was and still is an impressive sight. It juts high into the horizon above the town of 15,000 people that is Mineral Wells today. When you visit Mineral Wells, you immediately notice the Baker, which has been closed for more than 30 years. It seems quite mysterious and very out of place in this sleepy little Texas town.
Now deserted and in an ever-worsening state of decay, the hotel was once a beautiful new playground for the rich and famous. Stars including Marlene Dietrich, Will Rogers and Jean Harlow were guests at the Baker Hotel. Judy Garland and Lawrence Welk entertained there during the hotel’s heyday, which didn’t last long.
After opening in 1929, the hotel played host to guests only a few years until it was forced to file bankruptcy in 1932. For a few years in the 1940s, the building housed family of World War II military personnel. The hotel reopened in 1965, but it closed for good just seven years later. Yes, it would certainly seem the Baker Hotel was cursed. But is it haunted?
Ghosts of the Baker Hotel
Some people say yes. The most famous, and some say flirtatious, spirit that is said to roam the lonely halls of the Baker Hotel is that of a woman who committed suicide there. Some reports say she was the mistress of the hotel manager; others say she was Baker’s mistress. The story goes that the woman jumped to her death from the top of the hotel.
One maid reported finding glasses with red lipstick marks on them in the seventh-floor suite where the woman had once stayed. Of course, no one else had been in those rooms. There also have been several reports of people smelling the woman’s lavender-scented perfume on the seventh floor.
Another ghost, who has been reportedly seen in the basement of the Baker Hotel, is that of young Douglas Moore. One story goes that in 1948, he began working at the Baker Hotel as an elevator operator and became involved in a lucrative prostitution ring at the hotel. Sometime later, his mother convinced him to quit his job and report the illegal activities occurring at the Baker Hotel. The story says that he did, but he was invited to come back to work several weeks later.
Shortly thereafter, he mysteriously died in an “accident” involving the elevator in which his body was cut in half at the waist. This gruesome story ends with the blame for his death falling on two co-workers who were reportedly paid to get rid of Moore.
However, according to “Ghosts of the Baker Hotel” by Bob Hopkins, the true story of Douglas Moore isn’t quite that interesting. Hopkins learned from a distant relative of Moore’s that the young man’s death was truly accidental.
Moore’s family says he hadn’t been involved with anything illegal at the hotel. He simply liked to play around with the elevator and would hop in while it was moving. One fateful day, though, he wasn’t fast enough to get all the way inside. When one of his friends saw that he wasn’t going to make it, he pulled at Moore’s legs to get him out. Unfortunately, he was only able to get him half way out, and the elevator door crushed Moore at his waist.
His death might not have been murder, but Moore’s ghost is said to have shown itself in the Baker Hotel basement on more than one occasion. Well, part of itself, anyway. Only the ghost’s head and upper body have been seen.
These are only two of many ghosts said to haunt the Baker Hotel. The stories are many. The hotel is now closed to the public, so you cannot get inside to meet the spirits. However, you can read a spine-tingling account of one visitor’s overnight stay in the Baker Hotel at www.castleofspirits.com/stories04/bakerhotel.html. And if you’re ever in Mineral Wells, be sure to take a walk around the “Grand Old Lady” to see if you can catch of glimpse of one of her lingering guests.
For more information on the Baker Hotel, visit www.spiritofthebaker.com, the Web site of a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring the Baker Hotel.