The 90-year-old Baker Hotel and Spa in Mineral Wells has been purchased by a group that intends to restore the property to its former glory. The Baker opened in 1929 during the early days of the Great Depression, but thrived for many years until a slow decline set in. The property which was once the center piece of the lucrative mineral bath and spa industry in Mineral Wells was closed in 1972 and has been deteriorating ever since.
Austin-based La Corsha Hospitality Group will be leading the renovation and restoration of the Baker and the company has considerable experience in resurrecting decrepit but noteworthy properties like the Banker (which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982). This isn’t the first attempt to revive the Baker, but this group seems to have the financial clout and staying power to finally get the Baker back on its feet. Red is betting on Mineral Wells as the come-back player of the year for 2021. ,
From the Annals of the Hoteliers – In 1859, The Menger Hotel opened on what is now Alamo Plaza in San Antonio. The hotel was the idea of William Menger was a local brewer. Menger hired an architect, John M. Fries, along with a contractor, J. H. Kampmann, to build a two-story, 50-room hotel which would be the first top rate hotel of its kind in San Antonio. The Menger has been in more or less continuous operations under several owners and has expanded several times since its opening. It is renown for its mahogany paneled Menger Bar (where Teddy Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders), the Spanish Patio Garden, an elegant and spacious main lobby and the Colonial Dining Room. It is a member of the Historic Hotels of America and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Although remodeled, the original part of the hotel still stands and one can imagine the wonder of travelers at finding such an oasis in San Antonio. The Menger continues to serve as a center for meetings and other social affairs in San Antonio. And it is one of Red’s favorite hotels in Texas.
From the Annals of Hospitality – In 1947, Hilton Hotels was incorporated in Delaware. Hilton would later become the first hotel chain listed on the New York Stock Exchange. HIlton had it humble beginnings in Texas. In 1919 Conrad Nicholson Hilton purchased the Mobley Hotel in Cisco. Hilton expanded his holdings in several ways. After his first purchase in Cisco, Hilton began leasing and renovating old hotels. After acquiring several such properties, he began building new hotels in Texas on property he ground leased. Then he moved on to buying existing, low performing hotels at bargain prices. Hilton opened a new hotel in Texas every year between 1925 and 1930 eventually owning 8. He managed to survive the Depression even though he was close to bankruptcy in1931. But the troubled times forced him to look to outside investors. Shearn and William L. Moody, Jr., of Galveston were the primary source of new capital and HIlton merged his hotels with the Moodys’ operations to form the National Hotel Company. The merger was unsuccessful and in 1934 Hilton resumed his independent operation with five hotels. In 1938 he acquired the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco, his first hotel outside of Texas. Hilton later established his corporate headquarters in Beverly Hills. Ultimately, Conrad Hilton owned 188 hotels in 38 United States cities, including the Shamrock in Houston, the Mayflower in Washington, the Palmer House in Chicago, and the Plaza and Waldorf-Astoria in New York, and another 54 hotels in foreign countries. He also endowed the University of Houston which named the Conrad Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management after him. His archives are located at the University Hilton on the UH Campus.
Red vowed to never stay at another Hilton Hotel after they tore down the Shamrock. For those who never stayed at the Shamrock, it was a glorious place and Red spent many a lazy Saturday afternoon at the enormous pool sipping a libation with friends and planning that evening’s dinner and trip to the Astrodome.