The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa
Perched high above the Victorian village of Eureka Springs, Arkansas—recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations—is the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, a palatial structure and landmark hotel known widely as the “symbol of hospitality” for the State of Arkansas and Ozark Mountain region.
The Crescent Hotel was built in 1886 as a resort for the rich and famous, but quickly became unmanageable and fell into disrepair. In 1908, it was reopened as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women. This institution closed down in 1924, and then opened again in 1930 as a junior college. After the college closed in 1934, the Crescent was leased as a summer hotel. In 1937, it got a new owner, Norman G. Baker, who turned the place into a hospital and health resort. Baker, a millionaire inventor and radio personality, styled himself as a doctor, despite having had no medical training. He claimed to have discovered a number of "cures" for various ailments, including cancer, and launched frequent attacks on organized medicine, which he accused of being corrupt and profit-driven. Having been run out of Iowa for practicing medicine without a license, Baker moved his cancer patients to Arkansas and advertised his new health resort at the Crescent. His "cure" consisted primarily of drinking the area's natural spring water. In 1940, federal charges were filed against Baker for mail fraud and he spent four years in prison. The Crescent Hotel was left ownerless until 1946. In the spring of 1946, the Crescent Hotel was purchased by John R. Constantine, Herbert E. Shutter, Herbert Byfield, and Dwight Nichols. On March 15, 1967, the hotel was nearly burned to the ground. The only living owner at this time was Dwight Nichols.
In 1997, the Crescent Hotel was purchased by Marty and Elise Roenigk, who oversaw a six-year restoration and renovation of the hotel rooms. Marty Roenigk died in a car crash on June 18, 2009; Elise Roenigk remains the hotel's current owner.
The entire town is known to have many ghosts that roam about, and the Crescent seems to be a favorite destination. If you visit the Crescent, you'll want to avoid room 218, unless you're into having the daylights scared out of you. The legend goes like this: During hotel construction, a stone mason fell to his death in the area that's now room 218. Although his name is unknown, hotel employees refer to him as Michael.So what does Michael do that's so spooky? How about reaching for you through the bathroom mirror? Or maybe crying out in terror in the ceiling above the bed? The hotel was also a cancer hospital in the 1930s. Guests have seen ghost nurses moving corpses on a gurney through the hallways. Other ghosts include Dr. Ellis, a cancer surgeon, and the lady in white, a woman in a flowing gown who floats through the gardens and perches on balconies. Some guests have complained that they awaken to find their clothes scattered throughout their room. So are these ghostly visions bad for business? Hardly -- the hotel remains a popular tourist destination, and its ghost tour is a big seller.
The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa
75 Prospect Avenue
Eureka Springs, AR 72632
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