Gibson was passing by Big
Spring recently and noticed that the signage atop the Settles
Hotel was gone. Driving past Big
Spring and not noticing the Settles is like driving through Mineral
Wells and missing the Baker
Hotel. Raymond Chandler once described something else as looking
[like]“ a tarantula on an angel food cake.” That’s how hard it is
to not notice the Baker
Hotel in relationship to the town.
Another recent email included a video link to a walk-through of the
– which strongly hinted that there is a restoration attempt at that
huge princess of a building.
Following are updates on the Settles and the video walk-through of
the Baker. -
|The Settles (Sans
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, December 2009
as the Great Depression was beginning, the Settles is said to have
cost $500,000. The Settles Hotel was built by Mr. and Mrs. Settles
– the most unlikely “Mom and Pop” in the annals of Texas business.
Poor, until oil was discovered on their land, the Settles gave Big
Spring the biggest hotel between Ft.
Worth and El
Paso. The 1930 date over the entrance is a rare one in Texas
In 2006 the
Settles was brought for a mere $75,000. The project was to restore
the building to its former glory and in doing so, riding the city
of what some considered an eyesore.
The groundbreaking for the restoration was on August 21, 2008 with
a planned completion date of March 2010.
In the 1990s the building looked much worse – with scores of broken
windows and pigeons nesting in the vacant rooms. Someone came up
with a clever program where local business and individuals could
sponsor the replacement of windows which was quickly done.
Today, the hotel is being restored by Big
Spring native G. Brint Ryan. According to the restorer’s website,
the asbestos has been removed along with 700 tons of the building’s
interior - some of which was removed by explosive demolition.
missing have been returned – including a vintage phone booth, one
of the registration desks and even the centerpiece chandelier which
has been held (in safe keeping) by the Big Spring Heritage Museum.
But what about
the missing sign? Good news. The letters have been measured and
will be used as templates for new signage. The name will once again
appear on the Big
Spring skyline (the hotel is the Big
Further information is available from the restorer’s website: www.settleshotel.com
The source of many
stories, the Baker
has opened its doors over the years, albeit for tours – and those
were scarce. Readers have reported curt responses when they’d call
the Mineral Wells Chamber of Commerce about the hotel. Our interest
was peaked when we first saw Jason
Grant’s haunting photos of the place. Over the years, the hotel
has become a favorite of paranormal investigators. One reader wrote
to say that he learned to play the piano on the abandoned keyboard
in the Cloud Room –even while feeling an unnatural presence. A keyboard
player in a band today, he asked that his name be withheld to spare
himself a ribbing from fellow band members.
Austinite Kevin Pruitt was kind enough to send in a link to his video
walk-through of the Baker.
Pruitt, a professional film and video producer admits to incorporating
“the mix of high and low” into his projects. He says it reminds him
of where he came from and where he’s from just happens to be Mineral
While negotiations are ongoing for the restoration of the Baker,
it is hoped that the project will have its groundbreaking in later
8, 2010 feature