Built in 1886, the Crescent Hotel here in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is considered one of the grandest resorts in the Ozarks and, as history bellows, is the most haunted hotel in America.
Before Norman Baker was imprisoned in 1940, he amassed $10 million selling false hope to people with cancer, promising complete recovery in only six weeks at The Baker Hospital (now, The 1886 Crescent Hotel.)
His mailers and brochures were colorful. Cheerful even. He referred to the area as the “Switzerland of America Where Sick Folks Get Well,” and promised that cancer IS curable.
Today, 2022, as we all know, cancer remains incurable.
Yet, somehow, he was able to persuade thousands of sick, helpless people that without the knife or radium or x-ray he would cure them. At one point in his "career," the medical board ran him out of Iowa.
Baker promised life, he promised vigor. No surgery. No radiation.
But, Norman Baker was never a doctor. Norman Baker was a charlatan. A quack.
Today, this place is crazy-haunted by the hundreds of souls that died here under his (ahem...) "care."
Now, with such rich history, The 1886 Crescent Hotel attracts thousands of visitors and hosts up to 300 weddings a year. It is fairly well-known for being a mountain top spa resort and as scenic as this hotel is, it’s also known for this dark, haunted history.
What's more, there was death and demise before and after Baker's con-fest.
Stories are told and re-told year after year from a stone mason who fell to his death to a woman who doesn’t like messy guests, The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa has certainly seen its fair share of the supernatural and continues to.
The hotel is currently home to several ghosts and these spirits have made themselves known to guests. Take a quick search on Instagram, Facebook and other social sites and you will see and hear them all.
The most famous ghosts in the hotel include: Michael who's spirit presence hovers in room 213. He was the stone mason that fell to his death in the footprint of that room. The other famous ghost is Theodora in room 419. If you mess up the room or if she isn't particularly fond of you, she’ll put your luggage in front of the door (from the inside) which makes it difficult for you to open it back up to enter the room again upon your return.
And these mysteries don’t stop there. In 2005, when the tv show “Ghosthunters” came and did an episode at the Crescent, they caught a full body apparition in front of one of the cabinets.
So back in 1934, when the hotel became Baker’s Cancer Curable Hospital under the care of con-man Norman Baker, let it be said that the place was destined to be haunted by the hundreds of souls he killed. Originally from Iowa, Baker traveled to Eureka Springs during the Great Depression and promised to revive the city and cure people from cancer in the process.
Baker said that he was going to make everybody rich and he was going to put this town back on the map as a healing center. Here is the irony -- he did those two things!!
Eureka Springs was very prosperous after Baker arrived there but it was all a guise.
But what happened behind the closed doors of the hospital is what makes Baker’s story even more dark. Baker kept medical specimens in the lobby of the hospital on display as a way to showcase his “success” in curing cancer.
He persuaded people far and wide to come to his beautiful mountain setting, experience the wonderful healing waters, breathe the air, feel better ... then take his cancer cure and be healed.
Not one human being was cured by this charlatan doctor and the number of people who died at his hand adds to paranormal activity at the hotel even in present day.
Baker kept cadavers and body parts in a walk-in cooler that he would use not so much in research but to show people how he had removed cancer from some of his patients.
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.
Around 500 bottles have been taken for analysis by the Arkansas Archaeological Survey and the Crime Lab. Those who know the story best say there are more pages to add to this tale as more information gets discovered and uncovered at The Most Haunted Hotel In America - The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa.
After his four year prison sentence, Baker headed south. He went down to Florida, bought a yacht, lived on that yacht until he died a few years later (ironically) of cancer.
All year long, there are ghost and history tours happening at The Crescent Hotel but it is during the month of October when visitors flock here to experience it. This is the time of year when people come to capture activity in and around the hotel grounds.