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Eureka Spring's Haunted Crescent Hotel

Updated on July 7, 2011

The Crescent Hotel and Spa

The Crescent Hotel and Spa is one of the most visited hotels in the South, perhaps because it’s also one of the most haunted places in the Ozarks. Staff and visitors alike have reported ghostly encounters at the grand historic old hotel which opened in 1886.

Eureka Springs and the Ozarks, at the time, had become well known for their “healing waters,” which made it a perfect location since people from near and far were already swarming to the area in hopes of curing ailments and pains.

Numerous stonemasons from Ireland began construction on the hotel in1884. The design called for an array of architectural styles, including 18 inch walls, a number of towers, overhanging balconies, and a massive stone fireplace in the lobby. As the work progressed more innovations were added such as electric lights, plumbing, steam heating and an elevator. The final total for the massive project was $294,000, a huge sum in those days.

"America’s Most Luxurious”

On May 20, 1886, "America’s most luxurious resort hotel” held its’ grand opening in the Victorian village of Eureka Springs. Americas’ socially elite flocked to the widely publicized event which included a gala ball, complete with an orchestra and banquet.

The Crescent had large, exquisitely designed rooms, a dining room seating over 500 people, a swimming pool and tennis courts. Outside, there were flower gardens, boardwalks and gazebos. Its’ eloquence was unequalled for the period.

However, the Crescents’ popularity wasn’t to last. After the turn of the century, people realized the acclaimed "healing waters” didn’t have the curative powers the hotel and city had been advertising. Eventually visitors to the beautiful resort slowed to a trickle.

The CrescentToday

Scam Cancer Hospital

In 1937 a man named Norman Baker bought the property and opened a cancer hospital. Baker advertised miracle cures requiring no surgery or painful tests. However, Baker’s hospital was discovered to be nothing more than a scam.

The hotel was purchased by four Chicago businessmen in 1946. They began restoring the old hotel to its former elegance. Unfortunately, in 1967 a fire swept through the fourth floor of the south wing and much it was destroyed.

In 1997 the historic inn was purchased by Marty and Elise Roenigk. The determined couple declared, "In five Years, we pledge to have this ‘Grand Lady of The Ozarks’ back to where she was 100 years ago.”

Today, after 5 million dollars in renovations, the 78-room resort hotel is known as one of America’s most distinctive and historic destinations…and the residence for a bevy of spirits said to still inhabit the place.

Ghostly Tenants

“Michael,” a red-haired Irishman, is the most frequently seen of these ghostly tenants. Reportedly, Michael was one of the original masons who worked on the building in 1885. However, while working on the roof he lost his balance and fell to his death on the second floor. This area now houses Room 218 of the hotel and is said to be the most haunted.

Michael likes to play tricks with the lights, doors and television and often pounds loudly on the walls. Some have seen hands reaching through the bathroom mirror and heard cries of what sounded like a man falling. Others claim to have been shaken during the night One guest reportedly ran screaming from his room, saying there was blood splattered all over the walls.

From the days of Baker’s Cancer Hospital, the spirit of a nurse is often seen pushing a squeaking, rattling gurney on the third floor. This apparition is only seen after 11:00 p.m.…coincidently the time deceased patients were removed from the hospital. The spirit vanishes when reaching the end of the hallway. During the 1930’s, this area was used as the morgue.

Another remnant of the "hospital” days, is a ghostly figure who introduces herself as "Theodora.” a cancer patient, before quickly vanishing. The fake Doctor Baker, has also been seen wearing a purple shirt and white linen suit. The apparition appears identical to his old photographs.

Also located on the third floor is the laundry. A hotel maintenance man once witnessed all of the washers and dryers turning on by themselves in the middle of the night.

For a time, the antique switchboard continued to be used. However, its’ use was discontinued after continuous phone calls from the basement which was known to be empty.

There are many more encounters such as that of a gentleman dressed in formal Victorian clothing, complete with top hat. He is usually seen at the bottom of the stairway or sitting at the bar. Many have tried to engage him in conversation to no avail. He just sits quietly and will suddenly vanish.

The hotel’s Crystal Dining Room, is another place said to be frequently haunted. Here, other Victorian era attired apparitions have been reported to gather and dance in the early hours of the morning. Others tell of a 19th century gentleman sitting at a table near the windows. When approached, he says, "I saw the most beautiful woman here last night and I am waiting for her to return."

These Victorian spirits in the dining room are said to be mischievous. Once, during the Christmas season, the Christmas tree and all its packages were found mysteriously moved to the other side of the room. On another occasion, staff arrived in the morning to find all of the menus scattered about the room.

And in the kitchen a small boy has been seen skipping around and sometimes pots and pans are said to fly off their hooks of their own violation.

A former gift shop employee remembers a late night "customer." She says: "One slow evening, I was leaning gently against the display case, kind of looking downward, but not really at anything when I looked up. There in the store's doorway into the hotel lobby stood a man, looking out of place in time. He was dressed in a long, black cutaway coat with a tall shirt collar and ascot-like cravat, top hat and his face was adorned with mutton-chop sideburns. His trousers were gray striped but as I continued to gaze down, his image ended around the middle of the lower leg. It didn't go all the way to the floor. His image was there. It was very complete and lifelike. I blinked and said, "Whoa!?!" and in that instance he disappeared.

Steve Garrison, a cook for the hotel's Crystal Dining Room restaurant recounts, "I've lived here all my life and I have never been one to believe this stuff." However, his skepticism of the paranormal quickly changed when he also witnessed a little boy with "pop bottle" glasses and very old-looking clothes skipping around the kitchen.

On another occasion he opened the kitchen early one morning and saw pots and pans come flying off their hooks. Garrison emphasized, "I don't drink on the job. In fact, I don't drink... period."

Apparently ghosts check in but don’t check out. Maybe if they were charged regular occupancy rates…

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