Monday, November 10, 2008

Eighter from Decatur

I never really knew what it meant, but it does stick in my memory. So here's a few pictures from a recent travel through Decatur, Texas just up the road a piece from Fort Worth.

The Wise County Courthouse was constructed at a cost of $110,000.00, thought by many to be excessive at the time. It was designed by J. Riley Gordon, of San Antonio, who collected a fee of 5% of the construction cost. The building, completed in 1896, is of pink granite with interior of Vermont marble, was precut and each piece numbered, then shipped from Burnet County, Texas. The stones were raised by a windlass pulled by donkeys walking in a circle drawing the rope tight. The Courthouse clock was purchased from E. Howard & Company, described thus: "No. 1, Hour Strike Tower Clock, $952.00; with bell for same, 2,000 lbs., $388.00, total cost $1,340.00."

The Courthouse dominates the Decatur town square, which is still thriving, probably due to the fact there isn't a mall is rock throwing distance from the town. Here are some examples of the buildings dating back to the 1800's:

and early 1900's:

"El Castile"

The Waggoner Mansion is located at the end of Main Street.Sometimes called "El Castile", this is a large home,consisting of two stories, sixteen rooms, with a full basement and eight fireplaces,sitting on thirteen and one-half acres.
"Thistle Hill" by Roze Porter, describes the mansion like this:
"It was constructed of old fossiliferous limestone and decorated with handcrafted wrought iron on the roof and balconies. Half-moon-shaped stained glass added an array of color to the tops of the windows and to the large massive hand-carved entrance door.

As we left this cozy rural town we saw this former gas station, now rehabed into a barber shop.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mineral Wells, Texas - Home of the Crazy

Discovery of medicinal qualities in waters made the city nationally famous in late 19th - early 20th Centuries. It was said that the waters of the Crazy Well (discovered in 1885) could cure mental illness and a long list of other maladies. The Crazy Water Hotel, now a Baptist retirement home, is seen in the upper right and as it appeared in the 1930's.

Famous Water Company - Founded in 1913 by Edward P. Dismuke, this bottling company is the only mineral water well in operation today. Some of Dismuke's products were Dismuke's Pronto-lax, Dismuke's Famous Mineral Crystals, Dismuke's Eye Bath, and Dismukes residuum.

Entrance to the Famous Park where the well is still located.

The Nazareth Hospital closed in 1965 when the Sisters who operated it felt they could no longer maintain their hospital in Mineral Wells due to decreased personnel.

The old Norwood Hospital (originally two floors, see below) from another era. Because of the healing properties (and a new generation who have bypassed the town - along with the Interstate) Mineral Wells is "Crazy" no more.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mineral Wells, Texas - The Baker Hotel

The Baker Hotel was built by,T. B. Baker, who also owned the Baker in Dallas and the Saint Anthony in San Antonio. It had 14 stories and 450 rooms,with space for 50"apartments" above the main roof line. These premium rooms had the benefit of the rooftop "solarium."

A Spanish Renaissance design, modeled after the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas the Baker opened it's doors November 11, 1929, just two weeks after the stock market crash of 1929. It filed for bankruptcy in 1932. When it opened as a spa for the rich and famous,guests included Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Will Rogers, Ernest Tubb, the Three Stooges, and many other celebrities. The Baker served as military dependent quarters from 1941 to 1944 and was open until closing in 1963. It reopened briefly from 1965-1972 but the doors have been shut since then.

The Baker seen from the East. The swimming pool is in the fore ground and apparently featured a large fountain/wading pool. The pool was connected to the hotel by a bridge.

The formal entrance faced the Southeast. It features a three tiered stairway with multiple lamp posts.

The Cloud Room, a large ballroom was located on the top floor of the hotel.

To the left (behind locked gate) is the pool access bridge. You can also see the pool pavilion which is visible on the right center.

A veranda was located on the west side of the hotel. Shopping and guest services were located on the street level.

This is a detail of the barbershop located at street level.

This is the auto garage located across the street from the main entrance.

This is the Baker today, and this is it in better days: