MINERAL WELLS, Texas—What is it about bellhops that makes them such popular ghosts? Is it the pasty skin they
acquire running through lobbies at midnight? The heavy baggage they carry that trains them to clop loudly up stairs? Or is it that so many
of them mentioned in urban legends have died the most gruesome deaths?
The last is likely the case with the bellhop who haunts the Baker Hotel of Mineral Wells, Texas. Killed, the stories say, in the late 1940s
when a freak elevator accident chopped the poor teen in two, he is seen today wearing his dapper blue uniform, with legs conspicuously
absent beneath his waist.
The truncated bellhop is only one of the spirits said to inhabit the abandoned Baker, which looms above downtown on Hubbard
Street like a derelict, brown-brick castle. Others include that of a small boy who died of leukemia circa 1933 while seeking treatment from
the city’s miracle waters, a shaggy dog that bounds around after him, and cigar-smoking Theodore B. Baker—wealthy businessman and hotel magnate—who built the fourteen-floor, 450-room jewel that bears his name in 1929.
Those wispy residents and reportedly many more like them are about to welcome new, living company.
Daring Spirit. Historical Design. is the slogan being used to promote efforts to bring the hotel back from the dead. Baker Hotel Development Partners, LLC and affiliates —working in conjunction with the city of Mineral Wells—has set an ambitious goal to restore and reopen the Spanish Colonial-style tower by early 2026. It will fully renovate 165 guest suites, resurrect spas and ballrooms, and provide spaces for a restaurant, coffee shop, and retail stores. It’s a grand plan and a tall order: The hotel has been out of business for more than fifty years.
Built to pamper celebrities, cattle barons, and politicians, the Baker had a spotty record of operation. Opened two weeks after the great stock market crash, it struggled to find the relevance of plush accommodations during the Great Depression and World War II. It rebounded in the 1950s, struggled through the 1960s, then closed for good in 1972. In recent years, its crumbling plaster and forlorn
air has drawn curious eyes, and its reputation as a haunted hotel brought eerie business in the form of ghost tours. Coverage on the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and similar shows increased its exposure, but tourists who came to town to feel tingly couldn’t book a room in a skeleton.
That will change as a restored Baker invites ghost chasers to stay with the specters they’ve heard about. The ghosts themselves are surely prepared to play host to any posh future the hotel envisions, especially the bellhop—who was trained for elite service—and particularly now: The discovery of an article in the archives of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram proves he really was once a fellow of flesh and blood a 16-year-old named Douglas Moore—who met his end much as the legends say, fatally injured “when he attempted to enter a service elevator after it had started up.” He died of a crushed torso in the local hospital.
The article makes no mention of Moore’s burial in uniform, but such an internment is implied by the apparition’s suit of dapper blue.
Some who have seen him say the ghost seems to take pride in his snappy dress, which hints at
an answer to the riddle we started with. Why do bellboys make such popular ghosts?
Because no one else would be caught dead wearing those creepy chinstrap hats.