Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Eureka Springs is a pretty unique town, with lots of unusual options for overnights.
The Crescent had the most bizarre history of any of them. In fact I'm pretty sure the history was more curious than any of the hotels we stayed in, on our 22-day Midwest Road Trip!
The Crescent was also the oldest and largest, of all the hotels on our journey! We're talking 22 hotels!
Way Up There
After entering town, we detoured on a narrow, scenic road that wound through some tiny neighborhoods.
We pulled over to take in the view from a pretty, little roadside gazebo. Across the valley and perched on the highest part of Carroll County, we spotted our hotel. It looked more majestic than the photos.
Balconies and Chimneys
I was glad it was a nice fall day, because rain or ice would have made the drive up to our hotel tricky.
We parked and moved towards the entrance, sort of gasping at the enormous structure. There was no way to capture the whole building in one photo. "So many chimneys and balconies!" I noted with a grin.
They do not want you to forget this hotel was built in 1886. It's written on every sign.
They also answer the phone. "1886 Crescent Hotel!"
1886 is on the website. It's sort of silly, even if it's part of their name. Then again, it helps people like me, who can never remember dates!
Of course it would help if the 6 on their sign, didn't look like a zero.
I love historic hotels, especially when they've preserved the old structure. The Crescent has some cool stuff, like an old safe and the original lobby desk.
But when we arrived, all the wonderful features were hidden behind cotton cobwebs and haunted house banners. That is so irritating. It made the place look a funhouse or a stage set. On the other hand, I don't have to waste time trying to remember that our visit was in the month of October.
I found myself questioning the massive fireplace, that divided the lobby into two sitting areas. It looked like it could have been part of Disney World's Haunted House. After some study, we determined the stonework was most likely from 1886. It was the nearby cluster of noisy tourists, that brought me back to 2015.
My photo makes the lounging space look rather peaceful and grand. But when we arrived, the sofas and chairs were taken over with very loud and colorful tourists. I'm usually pretty open and cheery with fellow travelers, but it was 19th day on the road. I was tired. So were the noisy loungers who spread their bodies and luggage and Big Slurpee cups, all over the furniture.
What's the Story?
The Crescent opened 129 years ago, as a grand Victorian resort, catering to wealthy guests year round.
But that only lasted 15 years.
The hotel was too expensive to run and had to close its doors.
It reopened in 1908 as a Women's College and lasted a little longer. Evidently, the ghosts of 3 young women still roam the hallways, since their fall (and death) from the hotel's roof.
Norman Baker is the millionaire who turned the 15 acre resort into a Hospital and Health retreat in 1937.
He called himself a doctor, although he had no medical training. His attempts to cure patients of Cancer and other illnesses, finally sent him to prison.
Eerie Stairs and Hallways
We didn't spot any ghosts when we climbed the stairs and wandered to our room, on the second floor.
We did encounter one of the 2 hotel cats. He was taking a bath and wasn't a bit impressed by us. The black woodwork and dark, orange-y walls seemed to fit into the Halloween theme quite well. Black trim and black banisters and black radiators. So many lumpy coats of shiny paint!
Black was covering our door and even the window glass in the transom, above the door. Note the round knob, in the center of our door! And the knocker below the door's number.
We were delighted to find out that Room 218 was the most haunted of all 76 guest rooms. Room 218 also happened to be right next door to ours!
Our room was quite decent, for a 127 year old hotel.
I never even hope for a king bed or flatscreen in an old hotel. But there were some odd renovations going on, with exposed brick and beams. Again, it felt like a not quite finished, stage set.
I haven't gotten quite old enough to be bothered by levels. In fact I really liked the idea that part of the bathroom, was down a few steps. The toilet was behind a door (with frosted glass windows) on the upper level.
So in the night, I paid a call and avoided the light switch, which might wake sleeping Don. When I stepped down to the lower level, to find the sink in the dark... I forgot there were 3 steps, not 2. I took a tumble and suddenly became that old woman who complains about levels.
The entrance to the veranda, was from the lower bathroom.
It was a charming idea to bathe while enjoying the view through the pulled back velvet curtains. But we actually shared the veranda and you couldn't be too sure when someone might wander down our way.
We had no complaints about the view! I wonder how many rockers they have, for the 76 rooms that are still in use.
At one time, the hotel had horse stables on the property. There were 100 horses available for those who liked to ride! I can't even imagine.
And Another View
On the upper level, we found the Sky Bar & Gourmet Pizza Cafe. It's hard to find a better view, for enjoying a glass of wine in the evening.
The distant view of The Ozarks was lovely, with just a hint of fall color.
We also had a little blue and green directly below, with the pool and gardens.
After returning from dinner in town, Don and I made good use of the empty veranda.
A storm was moving in and gave us a little light show. I failed to capture any of the sky drama, with my camera.
But I did remember to pull out the Ouija pointer, that I'd stuck in my suitcase 20 days earlier. (Just 1 of the many props needed on our road trip)
I didn't have the board, but I made a Yes/No version, with paper. Then, we asked Ouija, if our room was haunted.
Don doesn't have the delicate touch that I learned, from years of slumber parties. I had to lecture him to ease up... so I could secretly move the pointer towards yes.
In the morning, we enjoyed a complimentary buffet breakfast in the Crystal Ballroom, with a view of the drizzly garden.
The piano was playing on its own, so I'd like to assume that was one of the hotel's well known ghost guests. We sipped our coffee and discussed our luck at staying at one of the most haunted hotels in America... on a night with a thunderstorm! Too bad the storm hadn't been loud enough, to drown out the partiers in the hallway. Or maybe they were ghostly guests?
I was impressed by the grand scale of this place. I believe every inch of the old hotel, deserves to be preserved. But, there was something that made me sort of made me sad, staying at the Crescent.
It reminded me that you can never really bring back the old. It's just too costly to do it properly. I wish I could just go back in time, to 1903. I'd pack up an old steamer trunk and pay a proper visit! That would be the way to experience The Crescent!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!