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Crescent Hotel Renovates Morgue in Memory of a 'Madman'

Eureka Spring's Crescent Hotel is notorious for paranormal sightings, but until this year, the basement was a sight for sore eyes.
EUREKA SPRINGS, AR - The Crescent Hotel's supernatural activity is known nationwide, but until the late 90s, the building's history was kept secret.

"The owners never wanted to mention it because they were afraid it would hurt business," says Director of Marketing Bill Ott.

But new ownership saw the paranormal potential, and started showing off the spirits.

"We started the ghost tours and it's just grown from there," Ott says.

"Just about every night we have to overbook because we get so much demand," says Tour Manager Keith Scales.

The tours have been running for more than a decade, but until this year, the basement was a sight for sore eyes.

"Before what they saw was pretty much a maintenance department," Scales says. "There were tools all over, hanging on all the walls."

In the late thirties, Norman Baker turned the hotel into a cancer hospital.

"He promised people that he could cure cancer," Scales says. "It wasn't just a 'This may help you.' He said, 'Once you've tried everything else, you've tried radium, xray and surgery, and they don't work, come to me. I will cure you.'"

If the snake oil salesman's patients didn't run out of money first, they'd make a final stop in the basement, for an autopsey.

"It wasn't white walls and tiles, and what we'd expect in a morgue," Scales says. "It was a sad little room for people to end up in."

Scales says Baker would pile nearly thirty bodies at a time in a small cooler just off the main room.

"He wasn't very considerate of his people when he was alive," he says. "Once they were dead, I don't think he cared very much either."

Baker took the bodies out a back door at night.

"He didn't want people to know exactly how many were dying here," Scales says. "He didn't want to scare the rest of the patients."

But a good scare is exactly why the morgue is the most popular part of the tour.

"You come here and you get a real sense of what it would be like to be one of Norman Baker's victims," Scales says."Those hairs going up on the arms, back of the neck, Who knows what's down here."

The tours run every night, except Christmas Eve. For more information, visit this site.
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