Yes, it is happening.
Work is well underway to revive the ‘Grand Old Lady’ of Mineral Wells.
This June will mark two years since a massive restoration project began to bring the neglected Baker Hotel back to life.
Originally opened in 1929 by T.B. Baker for a reported $1.2 million, it was the first air-conditioned hotel in Texas and boasted an Olympic-sized swimming pool and spa attracting thousands to enjoy the healing waters of Mineral Wells.
But after closing its doors in 1972, the hotel began a slow decline until 2019 when a group of investors partnered with the city to buy the property and restore the famed hotel.
The Baker Hotel and Spa is being restored and renovated over a three-year period in hopes of making it a premier resort destination once again.
“Every day there’s satisfaction,” said restoration project manager and general partner Mark Rawlings. “You see progress.”
Photos: Inside the Baker Hotel Renovation
While the credit for saving the historic hotel belongs to the town – community members and investors – who refused to give up on their dream to restore it, Rawlings is tasked with bringing the Baker Hotel back to life.
It’s believed to be the largest private restoration project in Texas history.
“I’m just in love with it,” said Rawlings. “It’s a long-time coming and I’m glad to be moving along with it.”
Rawlings has been involved in other high-profile restoration hotel projects, including Austin’s Driskell Hotel and the St. Anthony in San Antonio, but says the Baker Hotel is his favorite.
“It’s amazing the amount of craftsmanship,” Rawlings said. “The place was done over the top for its day and they had some great craftsman so we’re honored to be carrying on the tradition and bringing things back and there was so much good stuff that was just buried.
Their work is most visible from the street and high above town.
Unusual Things Found in the Walls of the Baker HotelMark Rawlings, restoration project manager and general partner of The Baker Hotel and Spa talks about the unusual things workers have found in the walls during renovation.
All of the original 997 windows have been restored — a process that was done entirely on-site and took nearly a year to do.
The most dramatic transformation to date may be the famed ‘Cloud Room’. The ballroom on the 12th floor was once covered in debris, graffiti and had been partly covered up by renovations done decades earlier.
Crews demolished anything not original to the hotel with the plan for public spaces to look just like they did when the Baker Hotel opened in 1929.