They call themselves the “Most Haunted Hotel in America.” The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas may actually be able to back up that moniker. With dozens of reports of haunting activity and a bloody past, the hotel really will put even the bravest ghost hunter in a state of terror.
The hotel sits at the top of a vertical hill onto which the town of Eureka Springs is built into the side. Built to look like a French Chateau, the silhouette of the hotel is striking. A destination for weddings and vacations in the Ozarks, this hotel looms over the town steadfast in its elegance and opulence. The sinister past of this building, however, is heartbreaking.
The first spirit said to haunt the location is the spirit of an Irish stonemason that fell to his death in 1880 while working on building the hotel that would stand for over a century. It’s reported he fell in the new construction that would one day become room 218. His spirit is said to be active in this room, and especially when young ladies stay there. There’s a rumor that says he prefers redheads and will be more active when one checks in. He’s affectionately known as Michael and many visitors to the hotel stay in the room specifically to experience the poltergeist-like activity.
The springs in the name Eureka Springs have been famous for over a decade for their supposed healing properties. Thousands of visitors would flock to the hotel, even in the early days of the 1880s, hoping the waters would ease their various ailments, from arthritis and tuberculosis to cancer. In fact, the hotel would be the site of a medical scam by a charlatan who claimed to be able to cure cancer with his regiments and the waters.
“Dr.” Norman Baker would take over the hotel for his experimental cancer treatment in the 1930’s, but guests would be surprised upon their arrival that the remedies were primitive and did little to ease their pain. While treating cancer with herbs and cinnamon, the unlicensed physician would slowly charge their families their entire life savings. Rather than cancer receding into remission, many of his patients would die on the premises. The morgue in the basement of the hotel is said to be the most active part of the hotel, with restless spirits and even the ghostly visage of Dr. Baker, who has been seen all over the hotel, not just in the dark basement morgue. When famous ghost hunters came to this area for an investigation, they were able to capture a full-bodied apparition in the basement, using heat sensitive material and seeing a cold figure in the darkness.
In room 419, you might even meet one of the unfortunate patients of Dr. Baker. Theodora is said to be a talkative and kind ghost, conversing with guests about her optimism for the cancer treatment she was receiving. It’s only after realizing she means the 1930s placebo treatment that they realize she can’t be a current resident.
Throughout the hotel, more ghostly activity has been reported, including a chef for the hotel seeing the spirit of a young boy in “coke bottle glasses,” and guests waking up in the night to realize they’d been tucked into bed by an unseen force. Items move all over the hotel and even more spirits seem to walk the steps between the hotel and the catholic chapel on the premises. Another guest claimed to be led into room 221 by a man in Victorian clothing, believing him to be an employee of the hotel, but when they entered the room, the man was nowhere to be seen.
Poltergeists, full bodied apparitions and cold spots make the Crescent hotel live up to its claim as the Most Haunted Hotel in America, and those visiting for a weekend away or a wedding in the ballroom are encouraged to be vigilant about the hotel’s ghostly happenings, offering Ghost Tours during the evening and a ghost log at the front desk to collect the tales of long dead residents.
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Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.