By TYLER MASK
Tuesday night's Mineral Wells City Council meeting – although less than seven minutes long – was based on massive amounts of planning, ending with all council members voting in favor of putting the 4B sales tax to a vote in May. If passed, the reallocation of tax dollars will play one of the final parts in funding the Baker Hotel restoration project. With all of city council on board, the fate of the Baker now rests in the hands of residents.
Through the years, Mineral Wells has witnessed a slowly decaying giant in the middle of town. One couple has literally seen the Baker Hotel fall a part from a few feet away every day – and night – for the last three decades, and they have finally had enough.
Mineral Wells natives Bryan and Laura Marsh, known around town for their two businesses, Jitter Beans Roasting Company and Down Town Video and Laser, are conveniently located just across the street from the Baker. They also live downtown, which means the 14-story building never leaves their sight.
Some may grow weary of seeing the same things everyday – this duo feels otherwise. They aren't sick of the Baker, they are just sick of watching it fall a part.
The Marshes moved downtown in 1981, and JBRC opened shop Aug. 23, 1989. Although this was after the Baker's prime, Laura Marsh remembers a time when it was still in good condition.
“We've looked at it for all these years,” she said. “I have pictures of it with windows in it.”
Despite all the obstacles the Baker has faced, the Marshes are more than hopeful for a full restoration.
“[We are] 100 percent, 103 percent, 200 percent [hopeful],” Laura Marsh said. “It is like the ultimate goal for it to be restored, and these guys know what they are doing. They have done everything. They know every in, every out. They know exactly how much this will cost. They did their homework.”
While the Baker restoration team, who visited city council last Tuesday, is working diligently to complete the final touches on funding, the Marshes are doing their part as well.
For those looking to see the floor plan of the Baker, the Marshes have it on display inside JBRC. Through the past six years, they recall many members of the Baker restoration team, including Director of Finances Laird Fairchild, stopping by multiple times for a cup of coffee to ponder ideas on restoring the Baker. In combination with this, their business location and a desire to see the hotel restored, they only saw fit to have the restoration floor plans in their shop.
Since Feb. 11, when the floor plans arrived, the Marshes have had many people stop by to view the plans. As a part of their commitment to seeing the Baker restored, the Marshes decided to take names and ask where all these people are from – more than half are from out of town. A few names include:
• Josey Lynn from California who said she “can't wait.”
• Matthew Eaton from Oklahoma who said he “can't wait to make a reservation.”
• Mark Doak from West Virginia who said he is “glad to see it.”
• Rhonda Curl from Georgia who said she is “so excited [and has] been several times.”
• Carla Boland from South Carolina who said she “would love to see it restored,” adding that “it's beautiful.”
The Marshes chose to start this list for many reasons, including the desire to honor the restoration team, and to prove to locals who don't believe that restoration will happen, that there are people coming from all over just to see the Baker in a new glory. They encourage residents and visitors to stop by, sign in and learn more about the historical building and the people fighting for it.
“We are ready,” Laura Marsh said.