MINERAL WELLS, Texas — Searching for the most haunted place in Texas?
Might as well begin in Mineral Wells.
Currently under renovation, The Baker Hotel and Spa once catered to the rich and famous and to people seeking a miracle.
When the Baker opened in 1929, Mineral Wells was a destination getaway, thanks to the mineral water that was believed to have healing powers.
However, restoration project manager Mark Rawlings says some people who came looking for a cure never left.
“There’s been 29 reported deaths in here is what I’ve been told,” Rawlings said.
One of those deaths was a 16-year-old bellhop, who—according to a newspaper article from 1948—was crushed by the elevator as he was preparing to begin his shift.
Online accounts say the boy has been spotted around the hotel throughout the years.
Rawlings said if anything paranormal is at the Baker, it isn’t creepy or scary.
“They’re just good people, now they’re good ghosts,” he said. “Why you gonna scare us off if we’re here fixing up your house?”
It’s not uncommon for old, abandoned buildings to have claims of being haunted, but what’s unique about the Baker is that whatever’s haunting the building isn’t seen as much as it’s smelled.
Throughout the years, especially since the hotel closed in the early 1970s, people have claimed to encountered scents throughout the building, scents they believe have a paranormal explanation.
Rawlings says his nose has noticed several unexplained smells.
“I have smelled that smell,” Rawlings said.
The explanation for the smells usually lead back to one person: the hotel’s founder and builder, T.B. Baker.
Baker had a suite on the 11th floor. He reportedly smoked cigars near his fireplace and apparently, still does.
“I’ve smelled cigar smoke in there,” Rawlings said, assuring me that it didn’t come from himself. “I’ve never smoked a cigar.”
Rawlings says many other people have smelled the cigar smoke too, and it usually comes near the fireplace.
Mr. Baker also had secrets, like a mistress who stayed on the seventh floor.
For reasons unknown, she jumped to her death from her window, but her spirit is still very much alive.
Rawlings says it’s quite common to walk past her bathroom and smell perfume. In fact, he claims he’s smelled perfume at least a dozen times since he was brought on to the project almost 15 years ago.
“It smells more like what my grandma would’ve worn,” Rawlings said.
Rawlings said the smell of perfume isn’t subtle. It’s usually strong, as if someone just put it on and it’s always the same type of perfume.
The smell of perfume is arguably the most common encounter people have inside the Baker. A few years ago, a film crew from the Travel Channel was filming with Rawlings and several members of the crew smelled the perfume.
Our crew, however, didn’t smell it during their visit.
But they did notice something in the basement.
They picked up a scent of laundry detergent in the old laundry room, something Rawlings noticed too.
“We’ve never smelled it before,” he said.
Smelling laundry detergent in a laundry room doesn’t sound unusual, except the basement laundry room hasn’t been used in 75 years and the hotel has been closed for 50.
Neither Rawlings nor our crew could find an explanation for the smell.
Just like the perfume and cigar smoke, the laundry smell was strong and then it was gone.
Rawlings said maybe the ghosts or spirits are getting cleaned up, ready for the grand re-opening, which is targeted for 2025.
A reason worth sticking around.