by Walt Bissell
The Crescent Hotel and Spa, sometimes called “The Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks” is located in Eureka Springs, near Beaver Lake in northwestern Arkansas. Designed by architect Isaac L. Taylor, the hotel was built atop West Mountain between 1884 and 1886.
Eureka Springs was well known for the “healing waters” that flowed from the nearby mountain springs. It became so popular that in the late 1880’s, the Frisco Railroad built a special line to it. The Crescent Hotel was built to accommodate the many visitors to the area. Billed as “America’s most luxurious resort hotel,” it was built with all the finest modern conveniences. While the hotel was under construction, “Michael,” an Irish stonemason fell from the roof and died from his injuries. His body landed right on the spot where room 218 was being built. Room 218 soon became one of the “hot spots” of paranormal activity. Guests of the Crescent Hotel have called it, “the most haunted place in the Ozark Mountain region.”
A Healing Hotel?
The hotel prospered greatly in the early 1900’s but as time passed the waters of Eureka Springs lost their “healing” notoriety. The hotel continued to lose revenue and was unable to keep its creditors happy. By the end of 1907, the hotel was struggling to keep its doors open.
In 1908, the hotel became the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women. It also served as an exclusive academy for the wealthy ladies of Eureka Springs. The conservatory closed in 1924 and the once glorious structure sat sadly vacant. In 1930, the hotel reopened as a junior college and remained active until 1934.
In 1937, Norman Baker leased the hotel and converted it into a hospital and “health resort.” Baker claimed that he had found “miracle cures” for cancer and brain tumors. He was found later to be a crazy quack, performing torturous experiments “on both the dead and the living.” His so called “miracle” medicine was proved to be nothing more than crushed up watermelon seeds mixed with spring water. He administered the potion directly to the tumor after first cutting open the body. It was reported that he would “peel back the patient’s scalp exposing the brain and then pour the mixture directly onto it.” Many of the patients awoke screaming madly in agonizing pain. Driven to insanity by the severe pain they were assigned rooms on the fourth floor which Baker had converted into a makeshift “asylum.” After their deaths, Dr. Baker would hide the bodies until they could be burned later in the hotel’s incinerator. It will never be known how many patients died each month from cancer or from the “cure.” Baker was finally convicted of fraud in 1940 and he was sentenced to four years in Leavenworth State Prison. The dastardly deeds of Dr. Baker have left their lasting impression on the Crescent Hotel. Many believe the haunting of the hotel started immediately thereafter. Baker himself has been seen in the basement recreation hall and is said to plays phone pranks on the clerks at the front desk.
Orb Photo Taken at the Crescent Hotel
An orb floats in the stairwell in front of the window.
"I thought that you might like to see this picture that I took on mother's day 2006. This photo was taken at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas." - Joe
Mysterious Rumors About the Haunting
Legend has it that when the hotel was being remodeled, dozens of human remains were found in several secret chambers. It is also said that, supposedly hidden somewhere, there are jars containing preserved body parts, though they have never been found.
Haunted Hotel Rooms
Several guests and employees have described strange events in room 424. The door has slammed shut and strange sounds and sensations have been experienced in this room. In July 1987, a guest claimed that she, “saw a nurse pushing a gurney down the hallway in the middle of the night. The nurse reached the wall and then vanished.” Others have reported seeing the same exact thing outside room 424. Another resident of the fourth floor is reported to be the ghost of a woman who calls herself “Theodora.” “Most often seen by housekeepers in Room 419, Theodora courteously introduces herself as a cancer patient, before quickly vanishing.”
One night a salesman was asleep in Room 218, when he was awakened as he was shaken violently back and forth by his shoulder. He reportedly heard footsteps scurry quickly across the floor, but he saw no one in the room.
Another ghost has been seen sitting in the Victorian style lobby and bar of the hotel. He is, “a distinguished-looking man with a mustache and beard and who dresses in old-fashioned, formal clothing.” People often see him sitting alone at the bar. When they try to talk to him, he vanishes into thin air.
Two young girls reported seeing “a man carrying a tray of butter and dressed in a uniform similar to the waiters' uniforms. He followed them out of an elevator and towards their third floor room, where he seemed to disappear.” Another person opened the door of her room and saw the man staring directly at the two young girls.
The ghost of a young female who once attended the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women has also been seen at the hotel. The story is that the young girl either jumped from, or was pushed from a balcony to her death. Today, guests report, “hearing her screams as she falls.”
Some tell of a gentleman in 19th century attire, sitting at a table near the window. When approached, he says, "I saw the most beautiful woman here last night and I am waiting for her to return." Others have seen large groups of dancers in similar style dress, gliding across the dining room floor.
The Crescent Hotel and Spa provides ghost hunters with a smorgasbord of paranormal activity to experience. If you have the ghost-hunting bug, the Crescent Hotel just might have the “miracle cure.”
Ghost Stories About the Crescent Hotel:
Crescent Hotel Ghost Story
For more information visit the:
Official Crescent Hotel Website