Eureka Springs Arkansas
Watch out for the crabby Victorian gentleman!
“The Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks”
This “seedily elegant,” white limestone, five story hotel, built in 1886, was described by its well-known designer, Isaac L. Taylor, as having a Victorian-French Gothic architecture, with many towers and “jutting out” balconies, resembling a huge French Chateau.
The limestone block walls are eighteen inches thick, and fitted together without the benefit of any kind of mortar. Many remodeling efforts over the years have altered the exterior building somewhat from its original design.
Walking into the lobby from the main parking lot is like stepping back in time, with a turn of the century check-in desk that is right across the aisle from the infamous Norman Baker’s desk, that had six stations for his six businesses.
Just right of the hallway going down the left passage is an interesting sculpture of the spirit of Michael the mason.
The extensive lobby is dominated by a massive centrally-located stone fireplace, adorned with a carved bat owl offering areas to sit and converse or work on both sides of this huge edifice. Across from the staircase is the gift shop, that may have been a bar in earlier years. The staircase goes up to all four floors of rooms. There is also an elevator to use instead of the stairs.
Down the righthand hallway passage one finds the dining room. There are beautiful, original chandeliers and a bar table against the wall by the entrance. The service was friendly as well!
We ate breakfast here and thoroughly enjoyed the view from the Victorian windows, that are all around this huge space, which can feed up to five hundred guests at one time. Of course, because of the Covid 19 virus, the tables are spaced appropriately. We recommend the meals here, which are reasonably priced and delicious.
Going left down the hallway passage, the guest finds the game room, with many table games available for group or couples fun. It is also a quiet place to work on the computer or read, or knit.
The recreation room was originally in the basement. Today, there is a full-service spa downstairs, called The New Moon Spa and Salon, which takes takes up 7,000 sq feet. Not all of the basement is open to guests, unless guests pay for paranormal tour tickets. The old morgue is now used for the headquarters the Maintenance Department.
Outside are a pool, beautiful gardens, and activities to participate in during the good-weather months. During a cold February, we were offered the ice skating rink, and a bonfire area where guests can make s’mores. The ground was covered in awful ice, so some guests enjoyed being inside!
We stayed on the fourth floor in a corner room. On the walls along the staircase from the third and fourth floors, are paintings depicting different eras of time at The Crescent Hotel. The fourth floor hallway walls are decorated with Crescent Hotel memorabilia and more old pictures from the different eras.
During the winter months, the main dining room isn’t open for dinner. Just down the hall on the fourth floor is Dr. Baker’s Bistro and the SkyBar, which has a glorious view out on the verandah. Food was excellent! Their beer is from a local brewery and was also tasty. Back in the day this room was the teacher’s lounge.
Eureka Springs was blessed with natural bubbling springs, which were thought to have healing powers in the 1800s. By the late 1800s, thousands of visitors came; hoping to be cured of arthritis and other ailments, to the extent that a town sprung up catering to tourists.
The idea to build a high-end luxury hotel came from the business community in the midwest, which was looking for a way to draw in people with money and customers for the railroad. A “Tycoon conglomerate,” The Eureka Springs Improvement Company bought prime land at the top of the mountain, that looked down on the valley. The Company was led by Powell Clayton, who “served as Arkansas State Governor, United States Senator, and U.S. Ambassador to Mexico;” a real mover and shaker.
The eighteen inch limestone blocks were quarried locally at the White River and put together by Irish stonemasons, hired in Ireland and brought over for this awesome challenge.
Powell Clayton made sure that the construction resulted in a glorious, castle-like luxury hotel with all the bells and whistles. Every luxury was added to please wealthy visitors. Electrical lights, modern plumbing, marble floors, and 26 acres of “sweeping” lawns, gazebos, beautiful gardens, stables, and tennis courts made this resort hotel very popular with the well-to-do.
The Crescent Hotel was also a great source of employment for Eureka Springs locals.
After spending 294,000 dollars in the two years of construction, The Crescent Hotel opened with a Grand Gala event, held in the Crystal Ballroom, on May 20th, 1886. A great time was had by all!
In 1905, The Crescent Hotel was sold to the Frisco Railroad, who were hoping to boost their ridership.
By 1907, hotel occupancy during the off-seasons was low and there were not enough funds to cover expenses, so the space was leased to a higher education outfit. Education programs for young women from well-to-do families were seen as a strong possibility for the next money making venture.
In 1908, A. S. Maddox and J.H. Phillips opened the exclusive Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women during the winter in the hotel and operated it as a traditional resort during the summer, until 1924, when it opened briefly as a Junior College from 1930-1934. Various people leased the hotel for the summer until The Crescent Hotel was put back on the real estate market.
Then death and disappointment came to Eureka Springs in the form of a man who thought he had an idea to cure cancer, without needing a medical degree; though he claimed to be a doctor. Uh oh! In 1937, a slightly paranoid Iowan “medical quack”, by the name of Norman Baker, bought the place and opened the Baker Cancer Curable Hospital and Health Resort, claiming the fresh spring waters could save his patients. Perhaps he really thought the water would do the trick!
Norman Baker soon got into trouble. His track record was awful, as not one of his hopeful patients survived. He was arrested in 1938. His operation closed in 1940 when he was convicted in Federal Court of defrauding the public with his “medical treatment” and was sent to prison for four years, which must have been a big shock to him.
For two years, from the time Norman was arrested until his conviction, his girlfriend opened up the place as a hotel once more. She had to close her operation when Norman was convicted.
During WW 2, the Crescent Hotel remained shut and on the real estate market, which was dead at the time. Eureka Springs wasn’t easy to get to, and in the middle of nowhere, up on a mountain.
In 1946, new investors reopened The Crescent Hotel and managed to reestablish it as a resort hotel, which wasn’t an easy task. A Chicago businessman renovated the grand old lady and opened up for guests, with the enthusiastic approval of the citizens of Eureka Springs!
For the next fifty years, the much-loved hotel weathered bad times, such as losing the entire roof-line in a 1967 fire. Fortunately it had a boatload of owners who believed in the dream, and carried on, providing a “vacation, wedding and honeymoon destination” to its guests.
While previous owners did their best to maintain and make small improvements, the owners Marty and Elise Roenigk who bought the challenging property in 1997, really brought the Crescent Hotel into “its true renaissance.”
The Roenigks were trained preservationists who were dedicated to fully restore the “1886 grandeur of this one hundred year old Luxury historic hotel.”
Marty had an ambitious plan and a schedule of restorations and repairs, which he and Elise completed over some time. Marty was experienced in running hotels.
He said that the hotel’s future would be “based on a concept he called economic sustainability.” And so the process began.
Marty’s goals became a reality thanks to a team of professionals led by Moyer and the development of and strict adherence to a hotel creed created then; still followed today.”
“The Roenigks’ creed has four tenets: Create lifetime memories, build the individual, protect the irreplaceable, and be community minded. This creed and good solid plans economically supported by ever increasing revenue from room rental, weddings, food service and more, saw the “golden age” prophecy not only come to fruition but get even brighter in the past 20 years.”
Tragedy happened in 2009. On June 18th, 2009, Marty and Elise were in a car accident in Iowa. Marty was killed and Elise was injured. Elise recovered and continued on in the restoration and maintenance needs of The Crescent Hotel.
Powell Clayton would be well-pleased, as well as any other spirits who loved this structure!
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
People who fight for their lives because of war wounds, or from a terrible disease, and those who try to save them as well through medicine and surgery, sometimes stay as spirits where they struggled in life, still hoping to recover, or work on saving their patients.
Biltmore Hotel, FL (Wounded soldiers who died of injuries suffered in World War Two, like to reside here as spirits to enjoy the beauty of this grand hotel, since they are no longer suffering physically).
Waverly Hills Sanitarium, KY (At this state-of-the-art TB Hospital, the medical staff worked really hard to find cures and help their patients. While some made it out, many others did not. Some medical staff caught the disease and died as well, not accomplishing their goals).
USS Hornet Surgery Wing, CA (As the USS Hornet saw a boatload of hot action, many sailors died from accidents, sickness, and from wounds received, or by suicide. The Surgery Wing and Hospital was a very busy place indeed, and not all patients survived. Doctors and nurses did their very best, but probably anguished over the ones that didn’t make it).
Crescent Hotel, Baker Cancer Hospital; 1937-1938, AR (Several spirits from this dark era are still here).
(Specifically two staff members who were horrified when they found out the truth, and probably suffered a drubbing in the court of public opinion. Perhaps they found it hard to get other jobs).
(Dr. Baker was terribly disappointed that his cure didn’t work, and perhaps is still trying to find a cure in the afterlife).
(People suffering from cancer flocked to this facility, as they believed Baker’s promises. Some may have stayed as spirits, still hoping to be cured).
People who love a structure while alive, often choose to stay or visit there in their afterlife. They may be pleasant spirits or really grumpy or mean in their attitude toward the living. This is especially true in hotels and inns.
Irma Hotel, WY (Spirits of Buffalo Bill, daughter Irma, a nice former guest, and a not-so nice-one all reside at this hotel in Cody).
Kahler Grand Hotel, MN (A Brach Candy Heiress, Helen Vorhees, loved this hotel, and decided to stay here in her afterlife to try to find the peace and joy she had here so she could forget her horrible end. She likes to tease the living, letting them know that she is there, still waiting for justice and peace).
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, CA (Spirits of the prominent and the ordinary alike still stay here in a variety of moods; possessive, or willing to share, happy or restless still in their pain, etc).
Crescent Hotel, AR (Two spirits who loved to stay while alive, still apparently do, though they have opposite attitudes toward the living).
Many children in the 19th century died from accidents, disease, or chronic physical ailments. Also, chronic physical ailments, either diagnosed or undiagnosed, could kill without warning, because many treatments and diagnostic tools were not discovered until the Twentieth Century.
Logan House, MS (The spirit of a young neighbor girl who had a heart condition died here from a heart attack).
Stranahan House, FL (A young Native American girl died suddenly from a heart attack right at the front door as she was arriving for a lesson from Mrs. Stranahan).
Gerber House, OH (Three spirits of children died in an epidemic of Cholera).
Crescent Hotel, AR (Four year old Breckie, son of the Crescent Women’s College and Conservatory School President, Richard Thompson and his wife, Mary, died suddenly without warning. Perhaps it was an undiagnosed condition or infection, breaking his parents’ hearts).
Spirits can be restless and feel compelled to go through their deaths, whether suffered from accident, murder, or suicide. If their publicly given cause of death is different than what really happened, the spirits involved can be restless, wanting to change the story and/or get justice for themselves.
Stranahan House, FL (The spirit of Mr. Stranahan still goes through the day he killed himself).
Mission San Miguel, CA (The victims and their killers still repeatedly act out that awful night in the afterlife).
T’Frere’s House, LA (A school teacher either accidentlally slipped down into a well or was pushed, either by a dog or an evil person. The Catholic Church declared that it was a suicide, and forbade the burial of her remains in the Catholic Cemetery alongside her husband and child. Uh Oh!).
Crescent Hotel (College and Conservatory Years), AR (A female student either fell or was pushed from the third balcony on the east side. This death was ruled an accident, not a suicide or murder. However, the haunting itself suggests that she had help going over the balcony).
When young people die suddenly way before their time from an accident or injury, they sometimes like to stick around and find ways to entertain themselves.
General Wayne Inn, PA (Young spirits of Hessian soldiers liked to hang around this favorite watering hole and enjoy each other’s jokes on the living, as well as taste the drinks and tea).
Saint Francis Inn, FL (The spirit of a young officer likes to flirt with the female employees and kiss sleeping brides, among other activities).
Kolb Ridge Court, GA (Spirits of Confederate soldiers who died in a battle here have been known to move into the homes foolishly built on the battlefield and amuse themselves by teasing the living).
Crescent Hotel, AR (Spirit of an Irish Mason, known commonly as Michael, fell to his death during the 1884-1886 construction era of the hotel. He died in the second floor area, which is now Room 218. Move over, Grumpy Victorian Gentleman!)
Spirits who have found favorite places to be in the hotel, all like to congregate at times in the dining room, according to several psychics.
While walking through the dining room at night, people have encountered cold spots in the room that can chill the living, no matter what time of year it happens to be.
Spirits have their own “meal time”, as they had while alive, reliving their memories of great food, drink and good times.
Pictures have been taken in the Lobby of strange white moving mists, perhaps spirits on their way to the dining room.
The outside gardens are also enjoyed by spirit people as well as the living. Photos have been taken of spirits here.
Spirit Of Breckie
The spirit of a little boy, dressed in early 20th century play clothes is seen playing happily in various spots of the hotel.
This boy spirit was caught on a cell phone video made by a guest of the hotel, zipping by with four-year-old energy.
Sometimes, he is not happy. This little child spirit has been clearly seen on the Second Floor North, bouncing his ball hard against the wall, not in a good mood. He is upset, declaring that it wasn’t fair. Perhaps he misses his parents and the young women.
Spirit of Norman Baker in The Basement / Old Morgue Area
The apparition of a “confused” Norman Baker has been seen in the basement area. Perhaps he can’t accept that his cure didn’t work and is trying to prove it does to clear his name. In his mind, he is still running his hospital. Spirits see what they want to see.
Apparently he doesn’t like to share his old Morgue Office, which is now used as the office for the Director of Maintenance.
A table fell down in the maintenance office suddenly as the Maintenance Director was leaving.
When the Director put it back up, he made sure it was secure. It fell down again as he was trying to leave.
The heavy door to his office closed by itself with no help from him or any breeze.
The apparition of Norman Baker is also seen at the foot of the steps that go up to the first floor, perhaps getting ready to make his rounds.
Spirits of A Female Student and Boyfriend Vision
People have seen them on the east side third floor verandah at 10:30 pm:
The apparition of a falling woman, enveloped in a “cloud of mist”, has been witnessed, with the spirit of a man there also who simply and calmly turns away before disappearing.
Perhaps she was trying to break up with him, or she may have been pregnant with his child, and maybe he didn’t care at all.
This vision may be her way to tell people today what really happened to her. This brings up the possibility that the young man may have pushed her off in a fit of anger.
He may feel terrible about what he did or what had happened on accident.
He is here for a reason; perhaps to try to change what happened or make it different.
Possible Female Spirit Activity
This female student spirit may still be in her old room where she stayed in life, making herself known to the living in subtle ways.
A young woman’s face has been caught on a wall by a camera, probably on the third floor.
A picture of a young woman has been caught looking out windows off a verandah, wearing a nightgown. This could be her, keeping watch for her boyfriend.
Spirit of Theodora
She once was Norman Baker’s Senior Staff Member.
Her tall, thin apparition has been seen fumbling in her purse, looking for her key as she stands in front of 419.
The spirit of Theodora is described as being “extremely neat and tidy” and expects everyone who stays in her room, 419 to be so as well. Slobs beware! There are consequences.
If guests fail to meet this standard, she has been known to pack their bags for them as they don’t belong in her room.
She tries to be a positive force for those spirits who are stuck at The Crescent Hotel and want to cross over to the other side. She is trying to find some peace, trying to make up for what she inadvertently was supporting: a quack’s fake cure.
Spirit of Nurse Ray
She is still working on the third floor.
Guests who stay in rooms on the third floor, can hear the squeaky sounds of a gurney rolling past.
Brave guests have looked out the door and have seen the spirit of a young women in an old 1930s nurse uniform pushing a dead cancer victim down the hallway on the way to the morgue.
Perhaps she is trying to figure out how she was duped into believing that any of these patients had a chance with Norman Baker’s cure.
If she pushes enough bodies down to the morgue, perhaps she would wake up to the truth and change history, perhaps saving her reputation as a nurse. The fall-out must have been very destructive in the court of public opinion. She may have ended her own life, or had to work in another field entirely.
Spirit of Powell Clayton
The spirit of Powell Clayton loved this hotel that he helped build, and appreciates all the hard work done to restore this very special place. He likes to visit when he isn’t at his brother’s house, known as The Clayton House Museum.
This spirit likes to stay in the Governor’s Suite, where he has many fond memories.
He doesn’t mind the company of the living, as he was a politician and an ambassador, and was used to mingling with all kinds of people.
This spirit was personable while alive and still is as a spirit. He is a benign, friendly and helpful spirit, willing to talk to nice guests, mediums and paranormal investigators.
He shares his suite with other living people.
He is mostly an unseen presence, and probably likes to stay in the dining room to watch people enjoy their meals. He also may be in the dining room at night remembering his own memorable meals and experiences.
A misty figure was caught in a jacuzzi suite, which may have been located in the Governor’s Suite.
Spirit of Michael (“Scotty”)
His apparition, seen by many people, is described as being a muscular man in his early 20s, having intensely blue eyes, a bushy blond beard and out of control, long blond hair.
Michael is a playful entity who finds his own light-hearted entertainment by teasing the maids and visitors, on the second floor.
On the second floor, a maid was trying to pull a laundry cart out of the storage room. Michael held onto the end, stopping her efforts.
She finally scolded him, telling him to let go, that she had a lot of work to do. Michael let go, and she quickly went about her scheduled work.
Michael and Room 218
Inside Room 218, he enjoys teasing the living by playing tricks with the lights, the TV, and he pounds loudly on the inside of the stone walls.
People have heard strange noises and felt strange sensations while staying in the room.
Also, some have felt a friendly presence watching them in this room.
Spirit of Mr. Grumpy and Room 218
This grouchy Victorian era gentleman wears Victorian clothing, including a frock coat and a frilled shirt, and can be action-oriented. His face has been described as having a waxy pallor, and he has a black mustache.
This spirit appears in a solid, life-like form, looking like a real person. Perhaps he hopes that this may convince the owners that he is still a great patron, and deserves his perks!
This spirit is possessive of his old Room 218. He was probably a guest of the hotel during its early years. Now he has to mingle with the ordinary, new money living, and is expected to “share” his room with living guests! The nerve of the owners!!
On occasion, the door of Room 218 has slammed shut on living guests after they opened it with the room key. Quite an unfriendly message!
A salesman was shaken awake and felt a presence trying to push him out of bed.
While sleeping in Room 218, Mr. Feagins, owner of the hotel, awoke in the middle of the night and saw this solid, unpleasant apparition standing at the foot of his bed, glowing in the dark, grimly staring at him.
More from Mr. Grumpy: Stairs, Bar and Lobby
Owner Mr. Feagins, mentioned above, first saw this solid entity near the lobby staircase. It melted into the air right in front of Mr. Feagins’ eyes.
This male spirit loses it when the inferior living step over the line of his ability to tolerate what he perceives as their intrusiveness and lack of respect for his former position in life.
Early one Sunday morning, a desk clerk saw the locked French doors on the lobby’s east side fly open suddenly and felt a gust of cold air as it raced across the lobby. It proceeded to travel by the reservation desk, blowing papers everywhere as it raced out the exit doors.
The French doors were located directly under the haunted Room 218. While no one knows for sure what spirit caused this, it does fit the personality of this grouchy, and perhaps snobby Victorian gentleman who finds the living annoying and sometimes firmly takes things into his own hands.
After the bar closed, this detailed apparition was sitting there, when an auditor came in to get a drink of water. The entity looked so real that the auditor spoke to him, but was ignored, as he just stared straight ahead.
When a second auditor came in and spoke to him also, there was still no response. Thinking that this unresponsive stranger was drunk, they decided to leave him alone. As they walked away from him, one of the auditors looked over his shoulder and the man had vanished. They looked around the lobby and saw no one.
Suddenly the apparition appeared above them on the second floor landing, looking intensely down at them. As one of the auditors climbed the stairs to the second floor, the figure vanished. Then this auditor felt something he couldn’t see physically escort him, in a firm manner, back down to the lobby. Unhurt but shaken up, he told the hotel manager.
They were not guests, and didn’t belong upstairs! They were just state workers!!
Owners, staff, visitors and guests have all had many experiences with all these spirits mentioned above. Plenty of pictures have been posted on https://www.americasmosthauntedhotel.com/photos/.
For seventeen years, The Crescent Hotel has had Ghost Tours during the week, especially Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
Marty had two San Francisco mediums have a walk-around the hotel and they found, among other things, one of the portals located in the building that is directly above the old Morgue in the basement. During the Ghost Tours, sensitive people have been known to faint in that exact spot.
Hard paranormal evidence has been caught by paranormal investigators. Photojournalist Joel Kattner and Nate Kuester contacted the spirit of Powell Clayton in the Governor’s Suite. He gave them helpful information, including the real names of the spirit of the nurse (Ray) and the spirit who is known as Michael (actually named Scotty).
A Big Yes Indeed!
A variety of spirits with various emotions and temperaments roam the grounds and the interior of The Crescent Hotel, and have done so for years. Some enjoy their fond memories, some try to tell their story, some are trying to clear their name or make up for past mistakes, some feel entitled to services and perks, and some seek amusement and chuckles.
All of them are being their true selves in their after-life here. There is always a difficult person in every group of people, be they living or in spirit form. The Crescent Hotel even has a grumpy spirit who has shown his feelings in decisive action, but he never hurts anyone.
Crescent Hotel & Spa
75 Prospect Avenue
Eureka Springs, Arkansas 72632
The Crescent Hotel can be found in the crest of West Mountain, in the town of Eureka Springs, near Beaver Lake in the county of Carroll, which is in the extreme northwest corner of Arkansas. It is at the intersection of Highway 23 and US Highway 62.
- Walking Tour Book: The 1886 Crescent Hotel; bought in their gift shop.
- Ghosts of the Crescent Cards by Rebecca J. Becker and Keith J Scales,
- House of Hundred Rooms, Tales the Ghost Tour Guides Do Not Tell, by Keith Scales, 2017.
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr