By CLINT FOSTER | Lone Star News Group
MINERAL WELLS – Once upon a time, Mineral Wells was a national destination city.
During the first half of the 20th Century, countless visitors flocked to this small town in the North Texas hills, drawn by the promise of its healing Crazy Water and mineral baths.
Presidents including Franklin Delano Roosavelt and Lyndon B. Johnson and celebrities, the likes of Judy Garland, Clark Gable and Lawrence Welk, and many others all made the trip to Mineral Wells.
And where did they stay? Why only one of the most luxurious properties in the entire Southwest: the famous Baker Hotel.
Built in 1929, the Baker was a modern marvel of hospitality and thrived for two decades, throughout the Great Depression and World War II. It continued to dominate the Mineral Wells skyline well after its decline and eventual closure in 1963. Although it could not sustain any attempts to reopen, the magnificent structure still looms over the rest of this town, against the backdrop of the massive, blue Texas sky. It serves as a symbol of the city’s former glory, slowly decaying with the passage of time.
For years it seemed any attempt to restore the Baker was nothing more than a apparitional fantasy. But Southlake businessman Laird Fairchild of Hunter Chase Capital Partners thinks differently.
Six years ago, he embarked on a quest to revive the once proud Baker and, unlike proposals from other suitors in the recent past, Fairchild has a concrete vision and is now closer than ever to pulling the trigger on the project.
“We’re making good progress right now,” Fairchild told the Index. “Ideally we’d like to be able to start work within the next nine to 12 months.”
Fairchild first noticed the Baker on his way to a hunting trip at the Rhodes Ranch, which he has leased for 12 years. Over the past decade, he has made the drive through Mineral Wells frequently on weekends and as he passed the Baker, he began to contemplate the enormous potential that lied dormant in the derelict property. He made it his mission to restore the hotel, not only for the hotel’s sake and its financial potential, but for the entire Mineral Wells community.