Sure, it’s occurring.
Work is nicely underway to revive the ‘Grand Outdated Woman’ of Mineral Wells.
This June will mark two years since a massive restoration project began to carry the uncared for Baker Lodge again to life.
Initially opened in 1929 by T.B. Baker for a reported $1.2 million, it was the primary air-conditioned resort in Texas and boasted an Olympic-sized swimming pool and spa attracting 1000’s to benefit from the therapeutic waters of Mineral Wells.
However after closing its doorways in 1972, the resort started a gradual decline till 2019 when a gaggle of traders partnered with town to purchase the property and restore the famed hotel.
Since then keen residents and folks passing by have watched the transformation unfold from the road.
Pictures: Contained in the Baker Lodge Renovation
“Every single day there’s satisfaction,” stated restoration undertaking supervisor and common companion Mark Rawlings. “You see progress.”
Whereas the credit score for saving the historic resort belongs to the city – neighborhood members and traders – who refused to surrender on their dream to revive it, Rawlings is tasked with bringing the Baker Lodge again to life.
It’s believed to be the biggest personal restoration undertaking in Texas historical past.
“I’m simply in love with it,” stated Rawlings. “It’s a long-time coming and I’m glad to be shifting together with it.”
Rawlings has been concerned in different high-profile restoration resort tasks, together with Austin’s Driskell Lodge and the St. Anthony in San Antonio, however says the Baker Lodge is his favourite.
“It’s wonderful the quantity of expertise,” Rawlings stated. “The place was accomplished excessive for its day they usually had some nice craftsman so we’re honored to be carrying on the custom and bringing issues again and there was a lot great things that was simply buried.
Their work is most seen from the road and excessive above city.
The entire authentic 997 home windows have been restored — a course of that was accomplished solely on-site and took almost a 12 months to do.
Probably the most dramatic transformation so far would be the famed ‘Cloud Room’. The ballroom on the 12th ground was as soon as lined in particles, graffiti and had been partly lined up by renovations accomplished a long time earlier.
Crews demolished something not authentic to the resort with the plan for public areas to look similar to they did when the Baker Lodge opened in 1929.
Rawlings is most excited to share particulars about what’s been dubbed the ‘treasure room’.
It’s the place each merchandise from the unique chandeliers to moldings and doorways are being preserved.
Rawlings stated it is just now that the particles and muck has been eliminated that he and his workforce can begin analyzing the structure and symbolism behind the unique particulars within the molding and partitions.
“It’s ensuring that we harvest every thing, save every thing and we’ve obtained rooms filled with door hinges to outdated toilets to lighting fixtures and we save all of it. It doesn’t should go the dump,” Rawlings stated.
The plan is to revive as most of the gadgets as attainable to place again within the resort. What can’t be used might be offered, so the general public can personal a chunk of the Baker Lodge. Cash raised will return into the undertaking, stated Rawlings.
As soon as accomplished a museum contained in the resort will show gadgets uncovered throughout restoration together with the story of the Baker’s previous.
Persons are invited to be part of the restoration undertaking by following the Baker Hotel & Spa on Facebook and Instagram and are invited to share outdated photographs or tales they’ve of the resort and even gadgets that when belonged to the resort.
One household donated again the unique shoeshine stand they’d bought throughout an public sale years in the past. It stood within the foyer when the resort first opened.
Kinfolk of the unique proprietor T.B. Baker additionally donated items of china that have been as soon as used within the resort.
Rawlings stated they’re ready on the ultimate design plans to get began on visitor rooms and public areas.
14 visitor suites will keep their historic dimension, however the remaining visitor rooms might be expanded to accommodating for contemporary residing.
The restoration additionally consists of the spa and the Olympic-size swimming pool.
Initially anticipated to open within the fall of 2022, Rawlings stated he’s now planning for a gap in 2024. Like many hospitality tasks, the pandemic has precipitated delays.
“We didn’t have the impact that numerous locations have in that we have been capable of work straight by,” stated Rawlings. “Nevertheless, materials pricing is loopy proper now and we’re ready and hoping that it stabilizes quickly.”
Rawlings stated he’s most enthusiastic about opening the doorways so everybody can get pleasure from what he enjoys day by day.
“That’s the objective. We wish to get it open and get everyone to come back and luxuriate in it like we’re.”