Haunted History in NWA: The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa is an icon in Eureka Springs. The beautiful grounds host up to 300 weddings a year and are known for being a mountain top spa resort. As scenic as the hotel is, did you know it’s also known for its haunted history?

From a stone mason who fell to his death to a woman who doesn’t like messy guests, the Crescent Hotel & Spa has seen its fair share of the supernatural.

The hotel is home to several rumored ghosts and according to Bill Ott, Director of Marketing and Communication at the hotel, the spirits have made themselves known to guests.

“The most famous ghosts we have in the hotel are Michael who hangs out in room 213, he was a stone mason that fell to his death in the footprint of that room. The other one is Theodora in room 419. If you mess up the room or she doesn’t like you, she’ll put your luggage in front of the door which makes it difficult for it to open.”

Bill Ott, Director of Marketing and Communications

And the mysteries don’t stop there. For example, in 2005 when the “Ghosthunters” came and did an episode at the Crescent, in the area that houses the jars now that were uncovered last year, they caught a full body apparition in front of one of the cabinets.

Take for instance when the hotel became Baker’s Cancer Curable Hospital in 1934 under the care of con-man Norman Baker. Baker, originally from Iowa, traveled to Eureka Springs in 1937 during the Great Depression and promised to revive the city.

Keith Scales, Ghost Tours Manager tells us, “Baker said, I’m going to make everybody rich, I’m going to put this town back on the map as a healing center and the ironic thing is he probably did. Eureka Springs went through a very prosperous period.”

But it’s what was happening behind closed doors, that makes Baker’s story even more interesting. Baker kept medical specimens in the lobby of the hospital on display as a way to showcase his “success” in curing cancer.

“He put out a wonderful booklet saying come to this beautiful mountain setting, wonderful healing waters, you’ll breathe the air, you’ll feel better and you’ll take my cancer cure and you’ll be healed, ” says Ott.

He didn’t cure anyone and the number of people who died at his hand adds to paranormal activity rumored to have happened at the hotel.

“In this cooler right next to me, this walk-in cooler had cadavers and body parts in that he would use not so much in research but for show to show people how he had removed cancer from some of his patients,” Ott said.

As for Norman Baker, he met his fate in the most ironic way. After his four year prison sentence, Baker headed south. According to Ott, “He left went down to Florida, bought a yacht, lived on that yacht until he died a few years later of yes, that’s right, he died of cancer.”

But Baker’s secrets didn’t stay buried. In early 2019, hundreds of bottles were discovered by the hotel’s grounds manager, Susan Benson. The bottles found are believed to be the “cures” Baker stored during the time the hotel housed his cancer hospital.

“When I found the first jar that had clear fluid in it and tissue, I knew immediately it was human, I just knew it.”

Grounds Manager, Susan Benson

What Baker stored in the jars found by the hotel staff…no one knows. Around 500 bottles have been taken for analysis by the Arkansas Archaeological Survey and the Crime Lab. As the wait for the results lingers, those who know the story best say there are more pages to add to this tale. “Please stay tuned, because it will be all over the media and every discovery that we make, whatever it turns out to be in those jars will be a piece of information for us. It will tell us something,” Scales said.

Baker has solidified his presence at the Crescent for many years to come.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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