We had to make plans to go to Eureka Springs last minute. It all worked out. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon. My wife and I just spent the day relaxing since I had been up all night at work. But we did drive around and get an idea of what was going on around town. To our surprise it was Corvette weekend. So tons of Corvettes all over and it was hard to find a place to park. For dinner we went to The Bavarian Inn for dinner. It is a German restaurant and a hotel. waited to Sunday to go do things.
For the most part we spent the whole day Sunday shopping. If you have ever been to Kansas University in Lawerence, Kansas you might get around just fine. The terrain was very hilly. For breakfast we went to The Mud Street Cafe. They have a good breakfast. It’s very filling. For lunch we went to Local Flavor. They have a smaller menu but it is all very good and is located downtown. For dinner we went to Ermilios Italian Restaurant. It is a very good Italian place. The only down side is they are not as friendly to non locals. Locals tend to get preferential treatment over out of towers and staff is more friendly to locals as well.
The resort is a very nice resort. All the rooms are very big for the price. It is only a few minutes outside of town, which is conviniant. Luckily, we were able to get a room. We had to change our original plans last minute. Every other hotel, lodge and B&B were all booked. The owner was very nice and was able to give us recommendations for places to eat and what was popular. They do have a small pool but it was too cold for us to swim. There is also a pond just up the road that you can fish from but it is catch and release only and the Lodge does provide fishing equipment.
Mostly a big cat sanctuary. They have a few bears but not many. One of them was in hiding all morning. They mostly have lions, tigers, cougars, and bobcats. In a few cases ligers. They have taken in animals as far away as New York but prodiminatly work in a tri-state area. They just finished expanding many of the living habitats for many of the animals. They do give tours of the facility. It’s easily an hour tour. They also have lodging on site which would be fun for the kids but animals tend to be active at night and make noise. Which, could be really cool or really annoying depending on who you are and if you have trouble sleeping.
The crescent hotel has had a colorful history since it was built. The hotel is referred to as the most haunted hotel in America and for good reason. Many sick people have come through the town and the hotel for its “healing” springs. Many of the early story’s and reports claim they actually worked. This lead to a boom in tourism.
On May 20, 1886, the grandiose Crescent Hotel opened among a midst of fan fair. The local Eureka Springs Times Echo called it “America’s most luxurious resort hotel.” Notables from across the country attended its grand opening, which included a gala ball, complete with a full orchestra and banquet dinner for 400 celebrants.(1)
From 1908 to 1924, the building was utilized as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women, but continued to act as a resort during the summers. However, after operating for 16 years, the revenues from tuition and summer guests was not high enough to maintain the costs of running the large building and the Women’s College closed. After sitting abandoned for the next six years it briefly reopened as a junior college from 1930 to 1934. (1)
In 1937 a man named Norman Baker arrived on the scene and bought the aging hotel for the purpose of opening a cancer hospital and health resort. Advertising miracle cures that required neither surgery nor painful extensive tests, the Baker Hospital, alleged that its patients would walk away from the “resort” cancer-free.(1) Baker even housed his mistress in the hotel under his presidential sweet. His head nurse use to occupy that room tell she died. When the mistress moved in he built a passage way from his sweat to the room below.
However, what was unknown to the many desperate patients who flocked to the hospital was that Norman Baker’s “miracle” was nothing more than a scam that he had been purporting on unsuspecting patients for years. The man had absolutely no medical training and had been convicted in Iowa in 1936 for practicing medicine without a license. Furthermore, the American Medical Association had condemned the many elixirs that were sold for a number of different ailments, including cancer. While operating the “hospital,” Baker was being investigated by federal authorities and in 1939 was finally arrested for mail fraud. One US Postal Inspector estimated that Baker had made as much as $500,000 per year, selling his “miracle elixirs” through the mail while in Eureka Springs. (1)
Baker was convicted to serve a four year sentence in Leavenworth. The investigation revealed that over the years Baker had defrauded cancer patients out of approximately $4,000,000. While no one actually died from Baker’s “cure,” the investigation showed that his treatments most likely hastened the death of those suffering from cancer when they didn’t receive effective forms of treatment. In 1944, Baker was released from Leavenworth and moved to Florida, where he lived comfortably until his death in 1958.(1) After his death his wife and mistress received an inheritance from his will but they both donated it to the cancer society.
During the wars years of 1940 to 1946, the beautiful building once again sat empty. However, in 1946, the hotel was purchased by four Chicago businessmen who began to restore the old hotel to its former elegance. Though never at the level of its first grand days in the late 1800’s, the hotel once again began to thrive. Unfortunately, tragedy struck in 1967 when a fire swept through the fourth floor of the south wing and much it was destroyed.(1)
Over the next several years, the hotel passed through several hands as repairs and more restorations were made, but the hotel was never fully restored to its original grandeur. However, this all changed in 1997 when the historic inn was purchased by Marty and Elise Roenigk. In May, 1997, the couple announced, “In five Years, we pledge to have this ‘Grand Lady of The Ozarks’ back to where she was 100 years ago.” But, Ozark residents, having heard these promises too many times before, were skeptical.(1)
In 1997, the Roenigks began to rebuild the spas. That first year, a 6,500 square foot “New Moon Spa” opened which included Vichy showers, a hydrotherapy tub, sauna, message and therapy tables, tanning beds, and exercise equipment. The next major project was to restore the hotel’s skyline which had been destroyed in the 1967 fire. Costing well over a million dollars, the 3,500 square foot penthouse, original center observation tower and the 200-pound, 24-foot-tall Crescent Moon weathervane were restored.(1)
They do have a steak place on the main floor of the hotel and a pizza place/ bar called the sky bar in the top floor. The sky bar always seems busy but mixed reviews of the pizza. The mixed drinks are good and worth a try. We did the 9:30 pm Ghost tour at the hotel. It was a lot different from the last time we took the tour. They had a little museum across from the Sky Bar that had old pictures and plaques about famous people of the hotel that either died there or attended the woman’s college.
The front of the hotel at night.
The back of the hotel in the garden area. During the day. View of part of the garden.
One of the ghost stories is of a little girl that fell to her death from possibly the second floor to the ground floor. There are reports that if you take a picture on the very bottom floor in the spa and aim the camera up sometimes you can see the face of a little girl peaking through/over the rail. Unfortunately it did not work this time. But my EMF meter that I placed on a banister was lighting up like crazy. Crescent Hotel Ghost Tours
The back of the hotel at 10:46 pm. The story behind the garden behind the hotel is that at 10:30 pm last night you can see a green arch coming from the third floor or you can see a woman in a white dress jumping off the third floor. Apparently people can see it from town and have had multiple reports to the police. One evening a sheriff actually saw it and went to investigate the property and did not find anything.
This a walking tour of the city. Lots of story telling of what life was like in Eureka Springs before non native Americans were there as well as the population boom after the Springs were rediscovered in the late 1800’s. On the tour we got to go to different business’ and look in the basements and see we’re the old tunnels use to be and sections still exist. The tunnels were the result of 1-5 feet of mud flowing in the streets and in essence shutting down the city. They people of Eureka Springs built up the city to avoid the same problems and eventually the tunnels were made as a result of building retaining walls in front of business that later became streets.
A mural of the history of Eureka Springs