Has the local haunted house become passé? Parades of ghastly ghouls just not doing it for you? Afraid your Halloween mojo has left without you? Fear not – or maybe renew your fear: TravelLatte has some frightening ideas to put some howl back in your Halloween!
What suits Halloween better than a little haunting? If the idea of bone-chilling paranormal activities speaks to you (in a chilling, voiceless whisper), then head for Eureka Springs, Arkansas, home of… (wait for it)
The Most Haunted Hotel in America!
The stately 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa sits atop West Mountain, overlooking the suitably Victorian city near the Arkansas-Missouri border. As the name suggests, it was built in 1886 and has been restored to, or maybe beyond its original grandeur with the recent addition of luxury suites in a previously vacant section of the property. It’s home to the New Moon Spa, featuring salon and wellness treatments reminiscent of the hotel’s early focus on the rumored restorative powers of the area’s hot springs. But today’s luxurious retreat has a long, sometimes dark history.
For many years, the Crescent served as a college but, after sitting vacant for a time, it was purchased by scam artist Norman Baker who turned it into a “wellness spa” for cancer patients, hawking various elixirs and treatments. While no one actually died from Baker’s so-called cure, investigation showed that treatments at the Baker Hospital most likely hastened patients’ deaths because they weren’t receiving effective forms of treatment. After many more years of abandonment, sales and renovations, the property began to thrive once again as a hotel. However, in 1967, fire destroyed much of the South Wing’s fourth floor. Repairs and restorations continued as the hotel changed hands several more times before purchase by Marty and Elise Roenigk in 1997. The historic preservationists vowed to return the Crescent to its original glory and, five years and $5-million later, the restoration was complete.
Today, the inn is recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations, and is the centerpiece of the Victorian historic district with more than 100 restored Victorian shops, restaurants and galleries. Known once again as the “Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks,” the landmark hotel features 15 acres of gardens and nature trails, spa services, dining destinations, and 76 guestrooms including luxury suites and cottages.
But the place is haunted!
The Crescent was built of Arkansas limestone by Irish stonemasons, one of whom, called “Michael,” fell to his death in an area that is now Room 218, said to be the most haunted guestroom. A mischievous spirit, Michael apparently likes to play tricks with lights and doors, and is sometimes heard pounding loudly on the walls. Other guests have had darker experiences – hands coming out of the bathroom mirror, being shaken during the night, and seeing blood splattered walls.
As you might expect, many spirits are from the days of Baker’s Hospital. Several guests and staff have reported meeting “Theodora,” who introduces herself as a cancer patient and most often appears in Room 419. On the third floor, the spirit of a nurse is often seen dressed in white and pushing a gurney down the hall at 11pm, which just happens to be the time they used to move deceased patients to the morgue, which this third floor area just happened to house. “Doctor” Baker’s autopsy table and walk-in freezer are on display here. Speaking of whom, the greedy con man himself has been seen in the basement, in what was once the Recreation Room. He’s also been seen standing at the foot of the first floor stairs in a white linen suit, an image identical to old photographs of Baker.
With many more sightings over the years, the 1886 Crescent Hotel has earned the distinction of the America’s Most Haunted Hotel, and has hosted the Biography Channel’s “My Ghost Story.” There is a nightly Ghost Tour or, for the truly adventurous, the Spirit of the Crescent Package featuring a premium room, breakfast for two, tickets to the Ghost Tour and special spooky souvenirs.
You can learn more about the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa at Legends of America, Historic Hotels of America, and America’s Most Haunted Hotel. You can book a room (if you dare!) here: 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa. Eureka Springs is about 55 miles from the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Bentonville, and is close to Beaver Lake. There are many family and outdoor activities in the area, and the city is also home to the vintage Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway and The Great Passion Play, the “Number One Attended Outdoor Drama”.
Ready for more? Check out Haunted Halloween, Part 2!
Historical photo courtesy of 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa.