Monday, November 18, 2013

Eternal Guests at The Crescent Hotel

The front entrance of the Crescent Hotel
Designed by the famed architect Isaac L. Taylor, the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas opened in 1886, but the building has gone through a number of owners and different uses during its life. Unable to financially sustain itself as a hotel, the business was closed and the building was empty for several years until it re-opened in 1908 as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women. The school proved to be a failure as well and closed its doors in 1924. Once again the building was abandoned until it was repaired and opened as a junior college in 1930. The junior college was a failure as well and classes were suspended in 1934. Several years later, it was leased, repaired and used as a summer hotel until a new owner, Norman Baker, purchased the building and turned it into a hospital and health resort. The basement was turned into a morgue.

Baker, a flamboyant maverick of a man who had no lack of self-confidence, had made several million dollars with a couple of his inventions, but he didn't consider himself just an inventor, he considered himself a doctor of the highest order. The fact that he was a high school drop-out, former vaudeville magician and had absolutely no medical training was, in his eyes, a trivial matter. He came to Arkansas because he had been ran out of Iowa for practicing medicine without a license, but he claimed organized medicine had conspired against him because he had found cures for a number of ailments, including cancer.

For several years, sick and dying people were treated in the Baker hospital with Baker's cure which consisted of a "magic elixir" painfully delivered via large needles 5 - 7 times every day. Eventually, after much suffering and numerous deaths, Baker's magic elixir was found by chemists to consist only of spring water, watermelon seed, brown corn silk, carbolic acid and a healthy dose of alcohol.  He was convicted of using the mail to defraud and sentenced to prison for 4 years. The Baker Hospital closed its doors and the pain, anguish and death within the walls of the building mercifully came to an end.  

Front entry door
The building sat forlorn and empty until 1946 when new owners took it over and began restoring the old girl back to her former grandeur as a hotel. The workers were horrified to find dozens of human bodies secreted away in various places. Although never proven, rumors persist that workers also found jars containing preserved body parts stashed away in closets. There were stories while the building sat vacant of noises, of human moans, and sightings of people who walked through walls or simply vanished, but the rumors were dismissed as alcoholic hallucinations by the derelicts who took refuge in the building at night or simply ghost stories told by teenage boys. 

Room 218
After reopening as an upscale hotel, the ghostly stories continued, but now they were told by regular, upstanding citizens who had nothing to gain by telling such tales. Numerous times, guests in Room 218 would come downstairs to the front desk demanding to be moved to another room because of "a screaming noise" or an unexplained light which bounced around the room. Upon investigation, the hotel management found that during the initial construction in 1886, a worker named Michael had fallen to his death from the top of the building where he had been installing stonework. Where he landed and instantly died was now the floor of room 218. In current times, guests often report the lights coming on or going off for no reason. The television will be turned on in the middle of the night when the rooms mortal occupants are asleep. This may happen several times, but if you will say in a firm voice, "Michael, stop it! I'm trying to sleep so stop bothering me!" then it will not happen for the rest of the night. Michael seems to like women. Female guests have reported being awakened in the night by someone lightly brushing their arm or cheek, but upon opening their eyes, nobody is there and the touch vanishes.

Room 419
Room 419 is known as Theodora's room. Records are a bit confusing as to whether Theodora was a cancer patient or a hospital worker. It has been speculated she was a nurse who became stricken with cancer while employed at the hospital and then became a patient until she died in room 419. Guest report jewelry being moved, sometimes going from on top of the desk into a drawer. Both men and women report being lightly touched while laying in bed asleep. There have also been voices and unexplained noises captured by tape recorders left running at night in the empty room.

Room 424
Guests and staff have told of a nurse dressed in white who is seen pushing a hospital bed down the 4th floor hallway who vanishes as she turns into room 424. Guests staying in that room report the locked door opening and then slamming shut with no one around it. Voices are also heard and male guests have complained of being awakened at night by unseen hands roughly pushing them out of bed. Perhaps the patient in room 424 was female and the protective nurse doesn't appreciate a man in her patient's bed!

Lobby of the Crescent Hotle

In the lobby area, guests and hotel employees both have reported witnessing a man in an old-fashioned suit pacing back and forth. Upon being spoken to, he will look at you, but will not respond. Not verbally anyway. He turns away and vanishes as he walks into a wall.

Rocking chairs on the Crescent Hotel balcony

A young female student who lived at the Crescent when it was a college has apparently never left. Records indicate she either fell or was pushed off the balcony to her death. Late night visitors on the balcony tell of hearing an eerie fading female scream. And even on nights when there is no breeze, one of the balcony's rocking chairs will sometimes be seen gently rocking back and forth even as the others sit perfectly still.

Stairs where the lady in white has been seen
Lady in white
The misty figure of a lady in white is sometimes seen coming down the stairs. She's appears to be as real and human as any other living person, but then you will notice she seems to be gliding down the stairs rather than walking down them. Look closely and you will see she stays a few inches above the ground. As she passes, you will not feel the warmness of a human body, but a cloud of coldness. And as you turn to look, she will have vanished.

Suspected young girl
who pokes people

Not all patients treated here were adults. There were children with cancer too and they, like the grownups, suffered and did not survive. There is one playful little girl who likes to laugh and play tricks on the unsuspecting. Her name or her story is not known, but her child's laughter is often heard. She likes to gently poke people or tug on earlobes. If you feel someone touch you and hear a little girl laughing, don't bother to turn around - someone may be there, but you will not see them.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas is an old, quaint, tourist town with a well deserved reputation as a destination for an interesting 3-day weekend or longer. And the Crescent Hotel is well deserving of its reputation. Reserve a room and stay for a night or two - if you have the courage. It's not suggested you do it alone though.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Haunted Mammoth Hotel

If at all possible, a trip to Yellowstone National Park should be in your plans. Don't plan to get through it in just a few hours or even a day or two. Stay a week or more because that's the minimum required just to see all the jaw-dropping wonders there is to see. There's good reason this park was nicknamed "Wonderland" by early visitors. Some of those visitors were so taken by Wonderland, they never left.

One of the few lodging accommodations inside the park is the storied Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Originally built in 1883, it was remodeled and enlarged a number of times to meet demand. In 1936, the original hotel structure was demolished and rebuilt except for the north wing which had been built in 1911. To say that unexplained things frequently happen in the hotel is a bit of an understatement.

Doors to rooms will often refuse to open and even the hotel staff cannot budge the "stuck" doors. A few minutes later, the door will open with no problem. This phenomena happens so often the cleaning staff has learned to simply go to the next room and upon finishing that room, return to the skipped room whose door now easily opens. 

One young housekeeper was in the process of cleaning a room when she went into the hall to retrieve clean towels. As soon as she was out of the room, the door slammed shut! When the door wouldn't re-open, she went into the adjoining room which had a connecting door and used her master key to get into the closed room. She found a heavy wooden dresser in the room had been moved and was blocking the door. There had been no one else in the room with the maid and there was no way anyone could have gotten in and moved the dresser in the few seconds she had been locked out. She ran to her supervisor who was on the same floor at the end of the hall and the two of them came back to the room within 2 minutes. Upon arrival, they found the door was standing open and the dresser back where it was supposed to be 6 feet away. The housekeeper swore she wasn't lying and abruptly handed her name tag to the supervisor and quit. At first, the supervisor was suspicious, but then she noticed deep scratches on the floor showing the path traveled by the heavy dresser from across the room to the door and back.

Furniture is often moved around in the storage room also. Extra beds, tables, chairs and supplies are kept in a storage room to replace any items that may get broken in the hotel. Maintenance personnel have frequently reported chairs that were once stacked against one wall will be stacked against the other wall from one entry time to the next. Once, the head maintenance supervisor had retrieved a box of light bulbs for his men to replace several which had burned out. He locked the door when he left. He received a call on his walkie-talkie for some other item almost immediately so he turned back, opened the locked door and found something was on the other side. He pushed it open to find an unopened case of toilet paper had been pushed against the door. The cases of toilet paper are kept against the far wall in the back and there is only the one door through which to enter.

The wide, usually quiet hallway on the 4th floor of the hotel where,
sometimes, a little girl's laughter and running feet can be heard.
Long-time employee's of the hotel say these unexplained matter are rather unsettling, but they have never felt threatened. The feeling is more like their resident spirit is simply mischievous and likes to play jokes. Workers and guests have reported hearing what sounds like a little girl's laughter when there are no children around. They also have heard little footsteps running in deserted hallways. Several psychics have said they felt the ghost is a very young girl whose name is Emily. There is a grave of a young girl in the Fort Yellowstone Cemetery a few yards from the hotel. Emily Sievert was the youngest daughter of Chaplain H. A. Sievert of the 9th U.S. Calvary. She died in 1903 just shy of her 2nd birthday. Perhaps this is the hotel's ghost. Perhaps little Emily is forever happy playing jokes in the hotel, teasing staff and guests alike.