The Crescent Hotel in Arkansas: One of the most haunted hotels in America

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Arkansas’ phantom residents: The Crescent Hotel

The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is famous for being one of the most haunted hotels in the United States. Built in 1886, this hotel has a long history that includes luxury, healing… and ghost stories.

Located in the beautiful Ozark Mountains, the Crescent Hotel has seen a lot over the years. It started as a luxurious retreat and has served many purposes since then.

Today, it stands as a reminder of the past, attracting visitors from everywhere, keen to experience its unique atmosphere.

Eureka Springs is a small town with a lot of character, and the Crescent Hotel is right at the heart of it. Whether visitors are here to explore the possibility of ghosts or just to soak in the history of the area, this hotel is a fascinating place to start.

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Crescent Hotel history

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The Crescent Hotel, c. 1890

When the Crescent Hotel opened in 1886, it was designed to stand out and to attract people who were looking for somewhere luxurious to stay.

With its large windows, guests could enjoy plenty of natural light and stunning views of the surrounding Ozark Mountains. The balconies were another feature that added to its grandeur.

Wide and inviting, they gave guests a private space to breathe in the fresh mountain air and relax in a way that was hard to find anywhere else.

These were the kind of views that made you feel like you were on top of the world, looking out over a sea of green trees and clear blue skies.

Over the years, the Crescent Hotel changed roles many times. After its early days as a luxury hotel, the building took on a new purpose in the 1920s.

During this period, the hotel became the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women. This was a significant change — the grand rooms of the hotel, once filled with vacationing guests, were now buzzing with the energy of students attending classes, studying, and living together.

The Crescent College offered young women a chance at higher education during a period when such opportunities were still relatively rare.  The hotel’s large spaces were perfect for classrooms, dormitories, and study halls, making it an ideal setting for a school.

It was a place where they could pursue knowledge in arts, sciences, and various other subjects, setting the stage for their future careers and personal development. The building remained a college and conservatory until the 1930s.

But perhaps the most talked-about chapter in its history was when it turned into a hospital. In the 1930s, a man named Norman Baker bought the hotel and turned it into a hospital that claimed to cure cancer.

Baker was not a doctor (and his treatments didn’t work) but the building was filled with patients hoping for a cure.

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Norman Baker and the hospital era

In the late 1930s, the hotel took on one of its most controversial roles when Norman Baker, a man known for his bold ideas and even bolder claims, turned it into a hospital.

Baker wasn’t your typical doctor. In fact, he wasn’t a doctor at all. He was an inventor and a radio personality with a flair for the dramatic and a knack for drawing attention.

the crescent hotel

His next big project was to transform the Crescent Hotel, already a landmark in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, into the Baker Hospital, where he claimed he could cure all sorts of ailments — including cancer.

Patients from all over the country came to Eureka Springs, looking for a miracle. The problem was, Baker’s treatments didn’t work. His methods were unproven and eventually led to serious trouble for him, including legal battles and the closure of his hospital.

This era in the hotel’s history left a lasting mark, not just on the building but on the town of Eureka Springs. Stories about Baker’s hospital and the people who came there hoping to be cured have become a part of the hotel’s haunted history.

Guests and staff say they’ve seen and heard things that can’t be explained, like the sounds of nurses moving through the halls or the sight of patients who seem to be from another time.

The impact of Norman Baker’s time at the Crescent Hotel is still felt today. This period has added to the hotel’s reputation as one of the most haunted places in America, with tales of ghostly sightings and unexplained events that continue to intrigue ghost hunters.

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Present day Crescent Hotel, taken in 2014. Photo: Alan Islas, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ghosts of the Crescent Hotel

The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is famous for being haunted. Many guests and staff members have shared their personal encounters with the supernatural at the hotel.

Michael, the Irish stonemason

One of the most talked-about ghosts at the hotel is that of Michael, an Irish stonemason.

His story dates back to the construction of the hotel in the 1880s, a time when Eureka Springs was bustling with activity and the hotel was just starting to take shape.

Michael was part of the crew building the hotel, known for his skills and hard work. However, his story took a tragic turn.

While working on the roof, Michael lost his balance and fell to the area below, which is now Room 218. This tragic accident cost him his life, but many believe that Michael’s spirit never left the hotel.

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Over the years, Room 218 has become one of the most famous rooms, known for its strange and unexplained phenomena that many attribute to Michael’s ghost.

Guests who have stayed in Room 218 have reported a variety of unusual experiences. Some tell stories of the bathroom door slamming shut on its own or the lights flickering without explanation.

Others have heard what sounds like someone knocking from inside the walls or a voice whispering their name in the dead of night. There are also accounts of guests feeling an unseen presence in the room, giving them the sense that they’re not alone.

One of the most chilling experiences reported involves guests waking up in the middle of the night feeling an intense cold spot on the bed next to them, as if someone were sitting there.

Some have even claimed to see the figure of a man standing at the foot of the bed, watching them silently before vanishing.

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The lady in the Victorian nightgown

Another well-known spirit is that of a woman dressed in a long, flowing Victorian nightgown, often seen in the hallway near the hotel’s old crystal ballroom.

This ghost is believed to be a guest from the early 1900s. She roams the hallways and has been spotted by numerous visitors and staff over the years.

Guests report seeing her gazing out of windows or moving silently along the corridors, her presence marked by a gentle rustling of fabric. Some say she appears to be searching for something or someone, and that her movements are slow and deliberate.

She is most commonly seen near the crystal ballroom, where she has been observed standing alone, looking out as if waiting for a dance that never begins.

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Her appearances are often accompanied by a sudden drop in temperature. Those who have seen her describe a sense of profound sadness that surrounds her, suggesting a story of loss or unfulfilled longing.

Unlike other spirits that might evoke fear, the lady in the Victorian nightgown seems to evoke sympathy from those who encounter her.

The identity of the lady remains a mystery. Some speculate she was a guest who found solace in the hotel’s beauty or perhaps someone who experienced a great loss during her stay.

Encounters from guests and staff

Many who have stayed at the Crescent Hotel talk about hearing strange sounds in the night — like footsteps in empty hallways or whispers coming from nowhere.

Some guests have even reported their belongings being moved or hidden, only to find them in places they hadn’t left them. These incidents often happen when there’s no one else around, leaving those who experience them both puzzled and intrigued.

Then there’s the tale of a former nurse from the days when the hotel served as Norman Baker’s cancer hospital. She’s been seen walking the halls, dressed in a uniform from the 1930s, looking as real as any living person until she suddenly disappears.

house of a hundred rooms tales the ghost tour guides do not tell

Guests and staff alike have spotted her, always walking purposefully, as if she’s still tending to her patients.

Staff members have their own tales to tell. One housekeeper reported feeling a sudden chill and seeing the figure of a man in old-fashioned clothing vanish right in front of her eyes in one of the rooms.

Another employee spoke of a door that would regularly open and close on its own, despite there being no draft in the room.

One particularly spooky story comes from the hotel’s dining room:

Late at night, after the guests have gone to their rooms and the lights are dimmed, the sound of clinking glasses and soft laughter can sometimes be heard, as if a ghostly party from the past is still enjoying the evening.

Yet, when someone goes to check, the room is always empty.

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Paranormal investigations and findings

Over the years, the Crescent Hotel has caught the attention of paranormal investigators from all over. One of the most well-known investigations was conducted by the team from the show Ghost Hunters.

They visited the hotel to explore its haunted reputation, focusing on areas with the most ghost sightings, like Room 218 and the old morgue from when the building served as a hospital.

The Ghost Hunters team recorded several unexplained events, including doors closing on their own and shadows moving in the absence of any light source.

Their electronic equipment also picked up sudden temperature drops and captured EVPs that seemed to respond to their questions.

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Episode 7 of S21 features the Crescent Hotel

They were drawn to the hotel’s history and the rumors of it being haunted by at least five apparitions, including Norman Baker.

The surrounding land’s geological composition, being rich in limestone and sandstone above water, was thought to act as a “paranormal battery,” enhancing the hotel’s supernatural activity.

Their findings suggested a high level of paranormal activity at the hotel but did not confirm any contact with the demon rumored to haunt the premises​​.

Investigators have also reported personal experiences that can’t be easily measured or recorded. These include feelings of being watched, sudden emotional changes as they move through different parts of the hotel, and even gentle touches or tugs on clothing when no one else is near.

For those who believe in ghosts, the evidence seems to offer proof of the supernatural. Skeptics might not be convinced, but the findings certainly provide plenty of material for discussion.

The Crescent Hotel today

Today, the Crescent Hotel is a fully operational hotel and a renowned tourist attraction. Beyond offering a place to stay, the hotel embraces its haunted past with open arms.

The hotel offers nightly ghost tours that take guests through its historic hallways, sharing stories of the famous ghosts believed to roam its rooms and corridors.

These tours provide a thrilling adventure for those interested in the paranormal and also explore the hotel’s past, from its days as a luxurious resort to its time as a controversial hospital.

In addition to the ghost tours, the Crescent Hotel hosts special events throughout the year, including murder mystery weekends and paranormal investigations.

The Crescent Hotel’s role in Eureka Springs goes beyond just being a place for tourists to stay — it’s a significant part of the town’s cultural identity. Its presence has helped shape the town into a destination for those seeking an experience that’s out of the ordinary.

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Photo: TXphotolady, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tips for visiting the Crescent Hotel

A trip to the Crescent Hotel is an adventure into the past, filled with the charm of the Ozarks and whispers of the supernatural.

Here’s how to make the most of your trip to this historic hotel:

Before you go

  • Book a ghost tour: These tours are a highlight for many visitors. Various tours can be found on their website, located here.
  • Check for events: The hotel often hosts special events, from murder mystery dinners to paranormal investigation weekends. Planning your visit around these events can offer a unique experience.

During your stay

  • Stay in a historic room: For the full experience, consider booking one of the hotel’s more historic or reputedly haunted rooms.
  • Explore the grounds: Take some time to wander the hotel and its surroundings. The architecture and natural beauty of the Ozarks are not to be missed.
  • Keep an open mind: Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer in the paranormal, approach any experiences or stories shared during your stay with curiosity.

Be respectful

  • Remember the past: Many guests and staff believe the hotel is haunted by spirits from its varied history. Whether or not you share this belief, it’s important to respect the site and those who might be there in spirit.
  • Respect other guests: Remember that not everyone is there for the ghosts. Be considerate of others’ experiences and privacy.

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If you’ve already visited the Crescent Hotel and have experiences of your own to share, please leave them in the comments below! We’d love to read about it. 👻

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