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 Texas : Architecture : Rooms with a Past :

Texas’ Two White Elephant Hotels:
Big Spring’s Settles
and Mineral Wells’ Baker

by John Troesser

Book Your Hotel Here & Save
Mineral Wells Hotels | Big Spring Hotels

Editor’s Note: Photographer Barclay 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 long-vacant Baker – 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. - Editor
Big Spring Tx - Settles Hotel
The Settles (Sans Signage)
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2009

The Settles

Completed just 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 architecture.
Big Spring Tx - 1930 Settles Hotel
The 1930 Date over the entrance. More Pitted Dates
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2009

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.

Artifacts long 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 Spring skyline).

Further information is available from the restorer’s website: www.settleshotel.com

Mineral Wells Tx - Baker Hotel full view
The Baker Hotel
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, October 2009

The Baker

The source of many ghost 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 Wells.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cj8cS4ZeYg

While negotiations are ongoing for the restoration of the Baker, it is hoped that the project will have its groundbreaking in later 2010.

© John Troesser
January 8, 2010 feature

About The Baker Hotel:

  • The Ghosts of the Baker Hotel by Bob Hopkins
  • The Baker Hotel by Johnny Stucco ("Rooms with a Past" Series)
  • Haunting Photos of the Baker Hotel
  • Mineral Wells, Texas
  • Related Places & Hotels:
    Mineral Wells, Texas
    Mineral Wells Hotels
    Big Spring, Texas
    Big Spring Hotels
    Texas Town List
    Hotels

    Related Topics:
    Rooms with a Past
    Texas Architecture
    Historic Preservation
    Texas
    Mineral Wells Hotels
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