The prestigious Crescent Hotel and Spa overlooks the town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The construction of the hotel began in 1884 when the Eureka Springs Improvement Company felt they could take advantage of the visibility the “healing waters” of the Ozarks had brought their area. In 1886, the Crescent was finally able to welcome visitors from around the country into its lavish doors.
The accommodations the hotel offered were clearly geared towards a wealthier array of people. The interior was decorated in luxurious furnishings, and the dining area was a grand room designed to hold hundreds of distinguished patrons. The grounds of the Crescent were dotted with lovely gazebos, a swimming pool, and tennis courts. When guests felt an inkling to socialize, they could take advantage of the extravagant parties that were held on a nightly basis.
In 1908, the Crescent Hotel and Spa was no longer a bustling fortress of wealth, and was soon forced to become the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women. The school’s doors closed in 1924 and would not reopen until 1930 when it became a junior college. Once again the maintenance of the building held too large of a cost for a college, and it was closed after four years of operation.
The most menacing part of the hotel’s history truly begins in 1937 when a man by the name of Norman Baker took over the property. Baker, who had no medical training, claimed to possess a miracle cure for cancer, which led him to open the Baker Hospital in Eureka Springs. Cancer patients desperate to take back their lives flocked to the hospital with the hope of finding the remedy to their illness. Unfortunately, Norman Baker’s cure did not exist, and the patients that had sought out his help were scammed out of their money and their lives. Baker found himself incarcerated in 1939 for mail fraud. When investigators dug deeper into Baker’s case, they discovered that he had defrauded over $4,000,000 from his victims. It was also made clear that the serum he supplied the cancer patients with was not lethal, but it was proven that their lives were shortened because their belief in Baker’s claims stopped them from seeking the proper treatment.
In the following years, the Crescent Hotel and Spa would once again reopen to the public. However, it seems the history of the hotel is not only alive in the legends that surround it, but also in the spirits that are unable to break free from the transcendent pull the hotel possesses. Guests and staff were soon reporting odd occurrences that they could not explain.
The apparition that is most frequently talked about resides in room 218. While the hotel was constructed, a man working on the roof lost his balance and fell to his death on the second story. Guests who stay in room 218 report hearing a man screaming, and a pounding that seems to come from inside the walls. Many visitors describe the spirit as mischievous. They claim he is constantly turning the heat and air conditioning on and off, and that he has a tendency to rearrange the guests’ belongings.
While the ghost of room 218 has never shown itself, another spirit makes her presence known by wandering a third floor hallway. Many claim the figure only materializes after 11:00 pm, wearing a nurses uniform while pushing a gurney. The legend that surrounds the Baker Hospital says Norman Baker would remove his deceased patients from the premise at night to hide the ineffectiveness of his “miracle cure.”
Another apparition that lingers in the hotel is a cancer patient whose life got cut short by Norman Baker’s destructive lies. The female spirit, seen mostly by the hotel’s staff, dwells in room 419. The woman introduces herself as a patient of Baker’s hospital and then quickly disappears.
Tales of a student jumping from one of the hotel’s balconies, while she attended the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women, is given as an explanation when guests recount hearing a young woman screaming late at night. Allegedly, the student was madly in love with a man from town who was of a lower economic class than herself. When the woman’s father became aware of the romance he quickly forbid the love affair from continuing. Heartbroken, the woman decided death was better than being kept away from her lover.
Many visitors of the Crescent hotel claim that they are jolted awake by the sensation of somebody poking or pushing them. It is also a regular occurrence to hear doors being slammed, and footsteps approaching only to find no living person accompanying them. The wealthier guests who once attended large, glamorous parties held in the dining area appear from time to time dancing in their fine tuxedos and elegant dresses. Many photographs taken at the hotel have unexplained orbs floating in them, and what appears as a smokey mist lingering in the picture.
The Crescent Hotel and Spa witnessed its share of successes and failures since the beginning of its construction. It is undeniable that the legends that weave their way through the history of the hotel speak of a dark and forlorn past for many of its occupants. Whether you choose to believe these guests still occupy the rooms and hallways of the building is your decision, but if you do find yourself visiting the hotel don’t be too quick to explain away any mysterious sounds or shadows you may happen upon.