Monday, December 30, 2013

Sleeping With Ghosts At Crescent Hotel

Front entrance at 1886 Crescent Hotel

My husband and I have a shared love for the paranormal, so when he surprised me with a weekend getaway to America's most haunted hotel, there was no question, I was in! 

The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas has passed through many owners since it was built in 1886. Sitting atop the highest hill in Eureka Springs, it is called the "Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks" - a gorgeous Victorian Era hotel. At the time of its opening, the local newspaper hailed it as "America's most luxurious resort hotel." For fifteen years after its doors opened, the Crescent Hotel would see its "Golden Age." People came from all over the country to ride horses on the breathtaking Ozarks trails, take tea at noon, and dance late into the night to the sounds of the in-house orchestra. 

Our attic room on the 4th floor of the Crescent

In 1934, during the Depression, the Crescent was closed. Times were hard and even the busy seasons were too slow to make ends meet. 

Our room chandelier

In 1937, a man named Norman Baker bought the hotel. Despite never having attended medical school, he made it into a cancer hospital, Baker Cancer Hospital. He ran the hospital for two years before he was shut down and arrested for fraud. During that time, many people died who may have otherwise survived had they received proper medical care. 

The hotel changed hands a number of times after Norman Baker, and today is owned by Marty and Elise Roenigk, who purchased it in 1997. Since that time they have spent more than ten million dollars  in restorations and remodeling. 

Wallpaper in our room.

I must say that I felt very calm and comfortable in the hotel. I wasn't nervous or on the lookout. I thought it was funny that I had been so nervous when Mark and I had been to the hotel in February to have a drink at Dr. Baker's Sky Bar. I was really spooked that night, and then Mark reminded me about my encounter in the bathroom off the lobby and I decided maybe I did have a good reason for my fear on that February night. 

Old wavy glass in the windows play tricks on the eyes

I will say that although I never felt scared, I did experience two odd things during my stay. On the first night, after I had been asleep for several hours, I woke up and went to use the restroom. When I walked in to the room, I noticed that it smelled of cigar smoke. I immediately thought it was a ghost. I don't know why I didn't assume people in a nearby room had been smoking. I just had a firm feeling that it was a ghost. Besides, we were the last room in our hallway and the room next to us was vacant. The room across the hall was occupied by a family with children but even if they had been smoking I wouldn't have been able to smell it in our bathroom. 

Place where the fireplace used to be in our room

On the second night of our stay, after I had been sleeping for nearly four hours, I was jolted awake because I had been pulled from my side laying position onto my back. I rolled over toward Mark, who was peacefully sleeping, and woke him up to ask him if he had pulled me toward him or yanked on the blankets. He muttered a no and went back to sleep. I felt confused; one doesn't just fling themselves from their comfy fetal position onto their back with such force that they wake least I don't. It was so late and I was so tired. I closed my eyes and was quickly back to sleep. If my cigar smoking ghost was responsible for waking me, I wasn't frightened.


The old elevator dial

The Gothic fireplace in the lobby

Heading out to the balcony to watch the sunset.

Down below is the Christmas tree garden

A gorgeous sunset

The balcony at night

It isn't just the 1886 Crescent Hotel that is rumored to be haunted. Several historic homes in town are said to be haunted and some say the town itself is haunted. Whether or not the town is full of ghosts, something otherworldly, magical...from another time and place, definitely permeates the air. 

The last thing I will note about our visit is that Mark was feeling really crappy on Friday. He was coming down with a cold and was sick enough that I thought we might need to cancel the trip. He said he was fine and we went ahead. After settling in for the night I realized we hadn't brought any water with us to the room. Eureka is well known for its healing springs throughout town so we thought the tap water couldn't hurt us. After only one small glass, Mark said that he was feeling remarkably better...that his symptoms were all but gone. We joked that it must be the magic spring water, but I could tell he was shocked by how quickly he had seemed to feel better. 

I left a lot of our adventure out of this post. I wanted to focus on the hotel and really emphasize how unique it is. If you are in the Ozarks area I can't recommend it enough. It is old. Very, very old. So the floors squeak, and the stairs are leaning, the paint is peeling in a few corners and some of the carpets are faded and...if you have any appreciation for history, architecture, or the beauty man contributes to this world, you will love the 1886 Crescent Hotel. 

Leanne & Mark in Eureka Springs Dec. 2013

~ Love & Light ~

1886 Crescent Hotel
75 Prospect Ave
Eureka Springs AR


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