Welcome to #TravelTuesday on Spooky Little Halloween! Today, I am kicking off a summer blog series centered on this popular hashtag – but with one spooky twist.
We’re going to visit haunted destinations! And I’m not the only one who will be sharing my favorite haunts. I’ve asked some of my spooky friends from across the Internet to contribute their favorite spots as well. Be sure to check back every other Tuesday through the end of August for new haunted places to visit.
Today I’m kicking off this series for us at America’s Most Haunted Hotel!
Earlier this year, one of my close friends from work got married in northwest Arkansas. As a girl on a quest for crystals these days, I talked a few friends into adventuring over to Eureka Springs during the day to visit a crystal shop I found online.
I visited Eureka Springs as a girl when my family did a week-long road trip around the state of Arkansas. (That was also the trip where we stayed at a cabin in the mountains, and my brother and I nearly got attacked by bats at dusk…but that’s another story for another day.) I didn’t remember much more than a mini-golf course at our motel.
And that’s a shame because Eureka Springs is stunning.
And it’s haunted!
I was pleasantly surprised to happen across this sign for Haunted Eureka Springs Tours almost immediately as we wandered the streets on our crystal quest. It made me wish I had more time to stay and explore. Immediately in my head, I started planning a trip back – after all, exploring this part of the country is totally road trip-able from the TX!
While I spotted Eureka Springs’ city ghost tour, the town’s haunted piece de resistance, however, is the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa, aka…
America’s Most Haunted Hotel
The history of The Crescent Hotel reminds me a lot of The Overlook in “The Shining” with the number of times its changed hands and purposes. When (not if, when) I do, I’ll probably spend most of my time expecting to run into Jack Torrance and company…
Opened in 1886, The Crescent was meant as a travel destination for the rich and famous. It boasted 75+ horses for guests to ride, afternoon tea, evening dance parties and a gorgeous, sprawling property to enjoy. The grandeur of The Crescent proved to be too much to manage though and closed in 1901.
It reopened in 1908, this time as a girl’s boarding school, and provided educational experiences to young women for 16 years; it was then followed by four years as a junior college. During this time, the property was also leased in the summer as a resort.
In 1937 the building’s purpose changed yet again when Norman G. Baker, a doctor from Iowa who claimed to be well-versed alternative medicine and probably the hotel’s most notable owner, purchased the building with the intent of opening it as a hospital and health resort. What made it a health resort? Access to nearby natural spring water, which Baker said had healing powers when consumed. Hmm…
His holding of the building was also short lived – in 1940, he was arrested for mail fraud, abandoning the Crescent yet again. (Interestingly, Baker was run out of Iowa to Arkansas for being an unlicensed doctor and prior to his escapades as a medical professional, one of his jobs was managing a performance troupe that toured the vaudeville circuit and whose star was a psychic…)
It wasn’t until 1946 that a group of four men purchased The Crescent and set forth with re-opening the grand Victorian hotel. For the next 20 years, the hotel operated with no incident until March 1967 – the building’s fourth floor of the south wing caught fire. Reports on what started the fire vary, from faulty electrical wiring to a bellman burning boxes in a lobby fireplace. Many rooms were damaged or destroyed.
The fate of the hotel changed several times before its current owners took the helm. In 1972 the hotel found itself with new owners after a bidding war between two couples – one who wanted to maintain the hotel and one who wanted to turn it into a…chicken house. Guess which one won?
In 1988, just two years after the building celebrated its centennial year, Wichita Savings and Loans took control of the hotel. Finally, in 1997, Marty and Elise Roegnik purchased The Crescent and set forth with a six-year restoration project. Marty passed away in 2009, but Elise continues to run The Crescent to date.
In 2016, The Crescent was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
With such a varied history, it’s no wonder The Crescent is called America’s Most Haunted Hotel. But what exactly makes it haunted? Not one singular event, oddly enough. At 130+ years old, The Crescent is home to a wide variety of otherworldly guests and hauntings thanks to storied past.
Cherry tobacco, for one. Tour guides and hotel guests alike describe the strong scent of cherry tobacco near room 212 which used to be Dr. John Freemont Ellis’ office.
The hotel is also said to be haunted by a young girl said to have been pushed or simply fell to her death during the building’s early years. Some guests say they feel her presence in the hotel while others report hearing her screams.
Since it has a former life as a hospital, the hotel has a morgue which is part of The Crescent’s ghost tours. It is the conclusion of the ghost tour, and at the end tour guides sometimes ask if anyone is brave enough to step into the walk-in cooler where bodies were housed. (The room is pitch black when you’re closed in, by the way.) A mother and her young son volunteered, and after 30 seconds inside the boy stumbled out, ill. After tending to her son, the mother shared she had taken video while they were inside, and a series of lighted orbs approached her son before he got sick. EEK!
Room 419 is another hot spot for hospital patients. It is said a cancer patient named Theodora will appear to present day guests and introduce herself as such before disappearing.
The Crystal Dining Room is a space reminiscent of “The Shining”. Here, guests report seeing apparitions dressed in Victorian garbs as though the ghosts are attending a ball. Some say they have seen them whirling around the room in the early hours of the morning. Other guests have mentioned seeing a gentleman from the same era sitting at a table near the room’s windows, said to be waiting for a long lost love to return to him.
Dr. Baker – the criminal doctor who tricked hundreds of cancer patients into thinking he had a cure for them – is even said to haunt the hotel. He is often spotted near the old recreation room wearing his signature purple shirt or tie with a white suit. (I’d run the other way if you happen to spot him…)
The best-known apparition at The Crescent, however, is a red-haired Irish stonemason named Michael. He is said to be one of the masons who helped construct the hotel in the 1880s. While working on the roof one day, he lost his balance and fell to his death in what would become room 218. Guests say Michael is a playful spirit who often interferes with doors, lights, the television and more. Some guest have witnessed hands coming out of the bathroom mirror and heard the cries of a man falling. Others have said to be shaken in their sleep, and one guest even claimed to have seen blood splattered over the wall of the room.
And, of course, you can check out what Ghost Hunters uncovered when they visited the infamous hotel. (That video is chilling.)
Visit America’s Most Haunted Hotel
Want to visit The Crescent? Here’s everything you need to know:
75 Prospect Ave.
Eureka Springs, AR 72632
Tours occur nightly at the hotel and are $22.50 for adults and $8 for children. Guests will visit the most famous haunted spots in the hotel during this tour and are encouraged to bring cameras to capture their experience…and whatever else finds them. Get more information.
Also offered by The Crescent is Flickering Tales, a chance to gather around the hotel campfire while hearing tales of Ozark witches, monsters, ghosts and more. This storytelling session occurs Fridays and Saturdays only. Get more information.
Once a year, the hotel also offers ESP (Eureka Springs Paranormal) Weekends where participants gain behind-the-scenes access to the hotel and tag along with experts to investigate the building. (It sounds like a total blast!) Get more information.
Less spooky activities:
And just in case you don’t want to fill your entire vacation with ghosts, The Crescent offers its guests a wide array of spa treatments at the New Moon Spa. Guests can also enjoy jumbo lawn games, daily wine tastings, social activities and more. Get more information.
So now I have to ask…
Would you spend a night at The Crescent?
Here’s hoping I can get back soon to check it out for myself!
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