With the skyrocketing interest of paranormal phenomena, it seems like haunted places and objects are popping up everywhere. Although it is easy to be just a little skeptical of every report of paranormal activity, there are certain places that stand out from the crowd. One such place is the 1886 Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, USA. This is a truly special place in many ways. It has a very interesting past and is worth checking out.
The hotel was built in 1886 by the Eureka Springs Investment Company. The company bought 27 acres to house the grand hotel, with the idea of creating a luxurious resort high on the hill. The stones that make up the body of the structure were made of limestone, hand-carved by an Irish crew of workers, from a nearby quarry. These stones were 18 inches thick and brought by train and specially designed wagons to the site of the future hotel. One unique feature of these stones is that they were laid in a way that made the use of mortar unnecessary.
The Crescent truly was a luxurious resort and had all of the modern conveniences like electricity and elevators. The construction cost of the hotel was $294,000. She opened her doors to the public on May 1, 1886. The hotel enjoyed many years of success, until the 1900s.
She had many uses
The downturn of the economy caused the hotel to only be opened during the summer months. In 1908, the investment company decided to open the hotel year-round by converting it into an elite girls’ boarding school from September until June and then as a hotel during the remaining summer months. The hotel/school operated successfully for 16 years, and then closed its doors in 1924 due to a lack of funding. It reopened in 1929 and remained so until 1933. Between the years of 1925 and 1929, the hotel changed owners twice, finally closing the doors in 1933 with the onset of the Great Depression. The hotel remained closed until it was purchased in 1937 by Norman Baker.
Norman was a vaudeville magician who transformed himself into an inventor and millionaire businessman. His last trick was claiming to be a cancer doctor, without a single day of medical training. He believed in alternative medicines and even rebelled against the American Medical Association, claiming they chose profits, over-treating patients. Baker was the founder of the Baker Institute in Muscatine, Iowa. He offered elixirs consisting mostly of watermelon seed, brown corn silk, alcohol, and carbolic acid. This “elixir” had no medical backing and did absolutely nothing for the hopeful patients. One such sad case was that of John and Lula Tunis. Lula had cancer and the couple was desperate for a cure to her pain and suffering. They met with Baker at the Institute in the spring of 1930. By December, Lula was dead. The miracle treatments did nothing but cause her more pain.
Baker was convicted of practicing medicine without a license in Iowa and moved on to Eureka Springs in 1937 and purchased the Crescent Hotel. He opened it up as a cancer hospital and went about his medical scam business all over again in the Ozarks. The federal authorities quietly investigated him for 2 years and into 1939, then closed in on him. He was arrested and spent four years in Leavenworth federal prison. When he got out, he moved to Florida and lived a comfortable life until his death in 1958.
Now that you have an idea of the background of this grand hotel, it is time to discuss the reported ghosts and haunted hot spots. There are ghost sightings stemming all the way back to the construction of the hotel. This first ghostly apparition has been fondly named “Micheal” and is supposedly an Irish worker that lost his balance and fell to the second floor, killing him. The spot where he fell is now room 218 and is reportedly the most haunted guest room. Apparently guests have seen his apparition, heard him pounding on the walls and experienced his playing with the lights in the room. Some not-so-humorous Micheal-related sightings and sounds include guests claiming to see blood splattered on the room’s walls, ghostly hands coming out of the bathroom mirror and a falling scream coming from the ceiling. If you want a terror-filled night, try staying in room 218!
Another ghost is that of a student of the girls’ boarding school. She was either pushed or jumped to her death, from a balcony. Her apparition has been seen, as well as guests claiming to hear her screams as she falls.
Other ghosts include a nurse, dressed in white, from the hotel’s cancer hospital days. She is only spotted after 11 pm, pushing a gurney. She disappears when reaches the end of the third-floor hallway. The third floor housed the morgue back then, and nurses moved the deceased patients late at night.
There is the ghostly waiter who is spotted in the halls carrying butter on a tray, and the apparitions spotted in rooms 202 and 424.
On one particular Christmas, the hotel staff reported seeing the Christmas tree and gifts moved to the other side of the room and the chairs positioned in a circle facing the tree. This would be a little spooky, but still rather neat to witness!
There are reports from hotel staff of seeing Victorian-Era apparitions dancing in the ballroom and sitting in the dining room.
The truth about whether the 1886 Crescent Hotel is haunted or not is up for debate by any skeptic. As for those who have witnessed paranormal activity, they know the truth.
The hotel today
This beautiful, fully restored hotel and spa is open for business and welcomes guests with all the charm of the Victorian Era, with the modern conveniences you would expect. The hotel and surrounding grounds are gorgeous and offer much to see and do. Consider planning your next vacation to Eureka Springs and its gloriously haunted 1886 Crescent Hotel. They even offer ghost tours and self-guided tours and have some pretty neat souvenirs available.