Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Haunted Hotel

About 50 miles to the northeast of where I live is situated a very unique community. Eureka Springs, often referred to as the "Little Switzerland of the Ozarks," is a somewhat secluded municipality whose streets are lined with various types of boutiques, art galleries, museums, spas, restaurants and a diversity of interesting shops. The city's entire downtown area has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and Eureka, as we locals often call it, clearly emanates the feel of a Victorian village due to the abundance of period homes dug into and otherwise lining the local mountainsides. As if standing watch for the rest of the community from its high vantage point on Prospect Avenue stands the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa, a venue that has over time, gained the reputation of being"America's Most Haunted Hotel." 

As the beginning of its name implies, the newly constructed hotel opened with a huge gala event, which took place in its Grand Ballroom, on May 20 of that year. For the first 15 years of its existence, the Crescent served as a high-end, year-round resort for the so-called "carriage set." During those first years the venue maintained a stable of about one hundred "sleek-coated horses" for the riding pleasure of its guests, according to information provided on its website.

In spite of its grandiose beginning, the establishment fell into financial difficulties and by 1908 had reopened as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women. The school didn't fare any better financially than had the original hotel and by 1924, it too had been forced to shut its doors. After that the Crescent went through a number of incarnations, which included serving as a junior college and later, as a summer hotel. 

In 1937 the property was bought by a wealthy man named Norman Baker. Although known as an inventor, Baker fancied himself a doctor; this, in spite of his lack of any medical training and his having been run out of the state of Iowa for practicing medicine without a license. The Crescent's new owner, who claimed to have discovered cures for various diseases including cancer, opened the establishment as a hospital and health resort; this, primarily to heal his cancer patients and others with the promise of miraculously curing their afflictions with spring water. Eventually, federal charges were filed against him and Norman Baker spent four years in prison, leaving the Crescent closed and without an owner until new investors obtained the premises in 1946. The new ownership then set upon the task of restoring the old hotel to its original purpose and former glory. The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa  has remained a top-notch establishment ever since--a venue however, that is well known for sightings of ghosts and apparitions as well as strange sounds that can be heard both day and night. 

With its rich history I don't find it at all surprising that the Crescent Hotel of today is believed rife with paranormal activity. According to the website entitled America's Most Haunted Hotel,
ghost sightings include that of the Irish stonemason Michael, who fell to his death during the building's construction, Theodora, one of Norman Baker's cancer patients, a mysterious patient clothed in a white nightgown who sometimes appears in the luxury suites, and Norman Baker himself, clothed in a white suit and lavender shirt.
Of course, there are skeptics and I know lots of people who would scoff at any notion of there being ghosts, life after death or of human beings even having a spirit. Yet, the stories of paranormal activity at the Crescent Hotel persist. 

In an attempt to resolve this issue in my own mind and to give my readers something to consider, I turned to a young lady named Jordan. She is a friend and neighbor as well as a  practicing witch, who not only grew up in Eureka Springs, but has been inside the Crescent Hotel on multiple occasions. In preparation for this article, I asked her opinion about the hotel being haunted and asked if anything out of the ordinary has ever captured her attention while there. This is how she responded: 

"I'll start off by saying that whole area is buzzing with activity from the houses and land surrounding it to the Hotel itself. They are most active at night for whatever reason, but some will interact any time day or night.

"Now about the Hotel: The Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks has always been like a second home to me.
Since I first set foot in there as a little girl I have made friends with many entities. A young Irish man, an old woman, a young lady in a Victorian dress follows me around the hotel, a cat walks across my bed and a few other unidentified entities will pick on me or follow me as I walk the halls. I hear voices sometimes and the usual bumps and creeks in response to things I say. Some follow me around outside or greet me as I get out of the car.

"They are all reasonably friendly except one who keeps kicking me, pushing me and/or tripping me. That one is a man; not the Irish boy, but he's older and he doesn't like me for whatever reason."

I also asked Jordan is she would describe one of the most memorable experiences she's had at the Crescent:

"Well, there are two very memorable moments--well, three. My brother and I were quite young at this time. We were sleeping and my brother woke me up saying something was on the bed. I waited a moment and felt what seemed to be a cat walking over me. We looked and there was nothing but four indentations the size of cat feet at the foot of the bed. We also heard meowing and purring.

"Another was when I tripped down the stairs and something caught me! A strong but gentle hand grabbed my arm and pulled me back to the landing I could see the indentation where they gripped my arm and I felt a gentle tug on my jacket as they pulled me back from the edge. I said thank you and felt a pat on the shoulder. I wish I knew if anyone else witnessed this!"

The only thing I can add to Jordan's experiences at the hotel are that I trust and respect her abilities and therefore, her opinions. I have long considered her an exceptional human being. Beyond that, you the reader will have to make your own mind up as to whether you believe that the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa is haunted or not.

By the way, if you're ever in Northwest Arkansas you might just want to experience the Crescent Hotel yourself--and they offer nightly ghost tours!

Interesting links:

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

America's Most Haunted Hotel

The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa

Photo's author unknown. 



  1. Eureka Springs sounds like a nice place to retire. Not the hotel, mind - just the town! Pretty sure if I stayed in the hotel, I'd be having flashbacks from The Shining ... :o)

  2. A lot of people love Eureka Springs, but since it's such a tourist town, it may not be the best place in the world to retire. It's only quiet during the winter months.

    Still, one of its main draws, "The Great Passion Play," has run into financial difficulties and may not open next year. That could change things somewhat.

  3. It intrigues me that she mentioned the "ghost cat" - I'm pretty sure that cats have ghosts as well as people (and other things). I've seen a ghost of a cat in my old garden, visiting me the night after he got hit by a car. He walked straight through a fence! - That was a good clue to him not being an ordinary cat. While I'm a witch, I've not got the ability to see ghosts often, but I have a friend who does, and insists that the ghost of a ginger cat appears in our apartment. I'd be interested to visit such a haunted hotel.

  4. When my cat passed away a few years ago, there was a time or two shortly after her death when I was almost certain that I had felt her jumping up to the foot of the bed and moving around as she used to do. I really don't think this was my imagination, so who knows? I find the haunting of your apartment by a ginger cat completely credible.