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
Settles (Sans Signage)|
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, December 2009
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
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.
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
Further information is available from the restorer’s website:
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.|
Kevin Pruitt was kind enough to send in a link to his video walk-through of the
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 2010.
8, 2010 feature