Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Don and I have had eyes on this hotel for years. We finally spent a night!
We've stayed in this picturesque Ozark town a few times, but never in the center of town. I was excited when we pulled up to the grand hotel, on Father's Day.
Beside the Spring
Our hotel got its name from Basin Spring... the healing spring waters, that began attracting visitors in the 1800's. The spring was just 100 feet from our hotel.
The 7-story limestone fortress was built into the side of the mountain, in 1905. It went up on the very spot where a wooden hotel opened, in 1881. It only stood for a few years, before it burned to the ground.
Curves and Arches
We parked and headed over, admiring the curves that crowned the top of the hotel. I was amused to spot the Sailor's Luck Tattoo Studio, on the street level. We could make it a truly notable night, if we got some tattoos as souvenirs.
We followed the arched walkway towards the entrance. There were no pumpkins and and fall decor, in June. But, back when visited in October of 2014, there was a big spotlight on Halloween and the hotel's ghostly history!
Lobby in June
The lobby felt cramped for such a large hotel. I love an old hotel lobby with cozy sitting areas, where you can watch people come and go. Maybe there were some, back in the day.
There was an impressive stone fireplace with an equally impressive mirror. The dark woodwork and lobby desk, took me back in time to 1905. The hotel clerk's masked face, reminded me that it was June 2021.
The hotel was considered quite modern, with its elevator in 1905. The one we used was so small and slow, that I wondered if it was the original.
Since we were on the 4th floor and had bags, we were happy to have an elevator period. Our room was just to the right of the elevator door, so we didn't have to wander down halls.
But, I did some wandering anyway. I so love walls and floors and stairways, especially when they have odd shapes and bends and angles.
Our king room had a fun shape, too. It was fairly spacious for an old hotel.
The bed was comfy, with decent linens. I always appreciate a ceiling fan and bedside tables, with lamps.
The high ceiling, big windows and a large wall mirror, made the room feel even larger.
Chocolate Bar Doors
I was especially fond of the doors. The decorative hardware was fun and the brown paint made the doors look edible! Our bathroom door was attached to the widest doorframe I've ever seen. It must have been one of the original bathrooms. Only half of the rooms in 1905, had one.
The little storage space above the closet door, was curious. Was that to store luggage if you stayed a week? There was no way I could reach that area on my own.
This wasn't our view, but some rooms could look out over the park.
I found this view at the end of a hallway.
Our room was at the "bottom" of the U-shaped building. My eyes went directly to the lush landscape, then down to the patio deck. If we'd had a room on the side, my eyes might have met up with the eyes of a guest straight across. No worries. Everyone seemed to keep their blinds down. That meant I got to study the stone and brickwork, without looking like a spy.
We've had mountain views before, but not like this. For the first time I could see how the hotel was truly built into the mountainside. What a patchwork of textures.
A Better Look
To enjoy a more interesting view of the mountainside, I went down to the park and headed up the stairs.
At the top of the stairs, I found a gazebo to the left. To the right I found an odd display of metal, connecting the hotel to the rock, behind.
A catwalk is a term I associate with theatre. The catwalks I found behind the hotel, gave a great "behind the scenes" glimpse, of what we'd have to deal with if we had a hotel fire! That would be quite movie scene!
These crazy metal stairs and walkways, offered escapes from all levels of the hotel. Mr. Ripley (as in Believe It or Not) evidently found this hotel amusing. Back in the day, he claimed it was the only building where, "every floor is the ground floor."
The Lounging Deck
After I snapped the catwalk photos, I tried to figure out how to get to the "patio" space we'd seen from our window. Don and I finally found the door on the second floor. I was able to strike up a pose, with the natural rock wall, behind me.
Don struck a pose between the gas fire pit and the hot tub. (beneath the umbrella) Don's observant eye, noticed a sign on the wall, reminding us that skinny dipping was not allowed.
Below the Glass Roof
Also behind Don was a skylight, that we'd noticed from our window.
We found a lounge/game room below the glass. If we'd had more time, we could have played a little chess or foosball or Jenga. I did find time to examine the history exhibits, in the glassed in cases. So many vintage photos and pieces of hotel memorabilia!
Jack Rabbett's Whisky Bar
We took a peek inside the Whisky Bar on the second floor. It was named for Jack, the manager who worked the hotel bar in 1951, when it was raided by the local sheriff.
For many decades, Eureka Springs had quite a bootlegging industry. Saloons thrived throughout Prohibition. Besides booze, there was a live-in "hostess" in the hotel and lots of gambling. I guess the sheriff got tired of it and made a few arrests, in 1951. Jack was one of them. Slot machines and liquor was destroyed in the street.
We passed another bar on the way to the Balcony Restaurant.
Just looking at that wavy wall, you could think you'd had one too many whiskeys.
Lunch and View
We were happy to find that Eureka Springs was not being overrun with tourists, on Father's Day. That meant we were able to get seated on the balcony, with no wait.
The food was good and the scenery was even better. My view of the narrow flatiron building was the best. I love how the skinny building sits like a tall piece of pie, in the split between Spring and Center Street.
We came back in the evening for a drink before dinner. The same guitarist had returned and the atmosphere was pleasant and relaxed.
I have no photos from our evening on the balcony, but I have this one from 2014. Pretty funny that we were seated in the same spot.
Looking back seven years ago, we also have memories of wandering up to the top floor and discovering the Barefoot Ballroom.
We could hear music as we headed up the stairs. First we stepped into a lobby area, with a cash bar. Then we moved into the next room, with a musical show in progress.
We hit the jackpot of entertainment. The talented musicians kept us happy and the guests kept us totally amused. We spotted at least one top hat and a few pairs of long, white gloves in the crowd. There were overalls and pigtails and lots of plaid shirts. My photos reveal no bare feet, so I'm not sure if we really happened upon the Barefoot Ball or just the room named after it.
Back at the Ballroom
There was nothing happening on the top floor, during our Sunday night stay. I'm guessing that was because of Covid.
I was glad the area was unlocked so I could peek during the day. The curved stained glass and wonderful wood floors were much more evident in daylight.
The First Barefoot Ball
The Barefoot Ball began in 1948. I believe it's been a yearly event since, except for these 2 Covid years. Who knows what was going on with these socially distanced tables, in the room with the stage?
The shoeless ball, began when a newly married couple was awarded a 2-week hotel stay, in 1948. They won the prize, on the radio show "Truth or Consequences". There was a catch. They had to go barefoot for the entire stay. They did and the hotel owner had a Ball in honor of them. "Check your shoes at the door!" Those were the days, when people would go along with whimsical contests and gimmicks.
One of the best parts of our stay, was wandering on foot... in shoes. If you don't mind steep hills, the town is very walkable. We wound our way up the curvy-steep streets, to the top of the hill. We had drinks and dinner at The Crescent Hotel, with gorgeous views.
Later we wandered back down, tripping along the dark stairways. We found the charming streets around our hotel, very quiet by 10. We also found a few other hotels to try in the future.
We woke to crashing storms in the morning. It was a little tricky getting our luggage to the parking area in the rain. (We were too impatient to wait for the shuttle)
The rain made me appreciate that we'd walked so much the day before. I'm glad I didn't wait until morning to take pictures!
Our timing was good for our stay at Basin Park. The town and hotel could have been jammed with tourists, but it was pleasantly quiet... day and night.
I'll remember that our room was spacious and our balcony dining was pleasant. The location was ideal for exploring. The hotel building itself was remarkable, especially how it connected to the mountainside.
Next time when the pandemic is far behind, I'll be game for more activity and music and maybe some curious people encounters.
The Historic Shaver House in Mena
In June, Don and I pulled up to this lovely home in southern Arkansas.
The current owners live in the home and rent out guesthouses on the property. In 1898 it was built as a home, for Judge Benjamin Shaver and his family.
Mena, Arkansas was not our destination. but it was a good stopping point on our June road trip to Missouri.
Don and I like staying in small towns, especially when there's a historic downtown, with an old hotel. This time, we were excited to stay in an actual neighborhood, just a short walk from downtown.
June 19, 2021
We arrived on Juneteenth, the first time the day was recognized as a National holiday. When I spotted the colonial home with its ionic columns, I thought of Gone With the Wind. It was a little eerie, since I'd been thinking of the sobering history of Juneteenth on our drive. I was glad to know the house wasn't old enough, to have a history connected to the Civil War.
However, I learned that Judge Shaver was the son of Fighting Colonel Shaver, a Confederate War hero. I decided to not think about that. But I did think about another period, when this colonial revival home, became Mena's first hospital. That's a good bit of history!
Today, the Vacca Family lives in the grand home. We met Scott Vacca when we arrived and he couldn't have been more welcoming.
He ushered us to a side entrance near the Carriage House. I would have loved to have stayed in that old building with its history and charm, but it was booked. We grabbed our bags and followed a few pathways.
We were booked for the Parisian Loft, which was located in a structure above the the garage and another guest room.
We carried our bags up the staircase and I kept fingers crossed.
I was excited about the loft room, but a little concerned about size.
The reviews were great, except for the ones that cautioned... "Don't book this room if you're tall."
Charming and Cozy
We stepped inside and right away, I had no worries.
Don is 6'2" and he's spent a lot of time navigating small spaces in old hotels. This cozy room had a lot more space than the website photos revealed. He was fine. My own photo reveals a foil covered plate... fresh chocolate chip cookies!
I loved the feel of our cozy space. It felt like a storybook room or even the room I loved in my Grandmother's house.
The room in "Daw's" house had lots of gables... windows and angles. I adored that as a child. When we visited, I shared it with my siblings and the windows were always open, letting in the sounds of cicadas... the breeze blew the chiffon curtains all night. We had no crickets or breeze, in the Parisian Loft. We did have luxurious linens and nice beside tables and lamps, plus a decent TV mounted on the wall.
The sitting area was small, but very useable. It was helpful having a small fridge and microwave and coffee maker.
The bathroom amused me. It was clean and new and comically small. However it made the absolute best use of the available space. I warned Don to be careful with his head, but he was fine. "I'd rather deal with tricky ceilings, than a claw-footed tub."
Towards the back of the property, we found a couple small rental cottages and some fun sitting areas.
If the weather hadn't been in the 90's, we might have met some of the other guests, around the fire pit.
We didn't meet any others near the hatchet throwing, either.
This totally cracked me up. It looked like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
We have never had a chance to try this sport. Don tossed his hatchet and managed to land it into the wood on the first try. (Is that even the object?) My expression and form (in photo) says it all. I tried a few times, then stopped before I injured something or someone.
It was a little too hot for lounging.
We admired all the options, but never tried out the hammock or Adirondack chairs.
Our little porch had a pretty view of the yard, with purple hydrangeas and a pond with goldfish.
We waited until morning to make use of the porch. In the early hours, it was shady and cool!
We made use of our coffee maker and enjoyed the morning birds and fresh air.
I think there were other guests, but it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.
Walking to Town
In the morning and in the evening before, we walked to town.
When our overnight stays include some walkable sights, I'm extra happy. The town was quiet and dining options were slim, but we enjoyed exploring parks and neighborhoods, both times of day!
I'll remember the peaceful and pretty property and our walks into town. And I also must add, that our stay was priced at under 100 dollars. That is notable!
Chain Hotel in the Blog?
When Don and I travel, we shy away from chains, because we like surprises. Hotel chains are predictable and don't usually make it into the Notable Nights Blog.
I just love the idea. Refurbish an old building in an urban area. Fill it with a luxurious hotel, an upscale restaurant and a modern art museum. Along with that, throw in lots of curious stuff!
The first of its hotels opened in 2006 in Louisville, Kentucky. Soon they will have 11 of these artsy, city hotels. They aren't in hip NYC or trendy Austin, but in states like Iowa, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Tennessee. Love that.
When Don and I started planning our road trip through Arkansas, we were thrilled to learn that Bentonville had a 21c hotel. But, the hotel was in a new building, with no history. There would be no city vibe. Blog worthy? We decided to find out.
Before we got curious about the hotel, we were interested in the Arkansas town... which is known to some, as the Birthplace of Walmart.
Whether you're a fan of Walmart or not, the Walton name has a lot to do with Bentonville history. I've actually been sort of intrigued with Sam Walton, since my history prof in the '70's spoke of him...
Downtown Bentonville looked charming, when we arrived last November. It was easy to imagine locals strolling down the sidewalk, back when Sam and his wife first opened Walton's 5 & 10 Variety Store.
70 years later, the original 5 & 10 Store is still open on Main Street... and there are over 50,000 residents!
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
61 years after Sam Walton opened his store, his daughter founded Crystal Bridges. The town began to explode. Like many, Don and I were lured to Bentonville, because of the museum.
The 217,000 square foot museum opened in 2011 and began attracting tourists quickly. Obviously, they needed more hotels.
Now... About the Hotel
Don and I were eager to experience a little of this now popular town. We had one day & night, so we hit the museum early. (Wonderful!) Then we headed to the hotel, about a mile away.
As we approached, the hotel looked clean and modern against the blue sky. I hoped there would be some good surprises in the somewhat stark building.
The old downtown area was bustling with festivities, leading up to the town's tree lighting ceremony. We were lucky to find a parking spot on the street, across from the skating rink. Wish we'd had time to skate!
We rolled our bags down the walk. As we got closer, the brick and glass building started to look more intriguing. We passed a lineup of windows, jutting out on the sidewalk. Odd!
Before reaching the entrance I spotted our first art surprise.
A sweet bee sculpture was clinging to the brick. He looked like he was heading up to the sign, that wrapped the corner. "The Hive Restaurant" Glad he pointed it out.
We walked past the entrance so I could take a quick hotel pic, without people around. A little later, the area was swarming with crowds, enjoying festivities.
The Fleetwood Cadillac limousine was a fun surprise. The green penguins, perched on the roof added a little extra amusement! They looked like they were guarding the place.
A chained off space beside the building, held a towering sculpture called, "Orange Tree". The balls and hoops tempted me to play, but it was obviously meant to be enjoyed with eyes only.
Two very friendly valet guys opened the entry doors, as we came through with our bags. They made us feel like we were entering a gracious old hotel.
The lobby looked nothing like a gracious old hotel. The airy space was more art gallery, than lobby. The registration desk was a simple table with stools and computers and a very welcoming staff.
Don checked us in and I checked out the art. I was drawn to the boats that floated along the white wall.
When I stepped closer to examine each piece, the art became eerier. Each boat felt like it was from a different dream. I really liked them, but I hoped I wouldn't dream about them.
Across from the desk was a snaking, couch. The divided gray pieces reminded me of cushy dominoes. They seemed ready for me to trigger some action, with a little tap. At the end of the curvy lineup was a treadmill... which was part of an art installation and not for running. Was the couch art? Should I sit on it?
Two years ago, Don and I stayed at another 21c, in Kansas City. We knew a bit of what to expect. The hotels all have permanent art galleries, as well as traveling exhibits that rotate through their hotels.
What a shame that the current rotation exhibit in Bentonville, was the same one we saw in Kansas City! I recognized most of the thought provoking pieces from the "Refuge" collection.
"Sudden Gust of Wind"
Before heading up to our room, I peered down this hall. I could see the narrow windows, that we had passed earlier on the sidewalk.
A glance at the walls and ceiling, made me feel like a sudden cyclone had just busted out all the window glass. It looked like the wind had scattered a huge pile of papers! Those "flying" pieces of paper, were really 400 pieces of metal.
Clearly, our hotel didn't restrict art to the galleries. We passed a light fixture, that was a work of art. It didn't need a spotlight, since it was one.
While we waited for the elevator, I noticed movement behind us. The wall-like structure, suddenly seemed aware of us. Our movement sent the fan-like discs whirling. The shadow on the wall also came to life! Hard to capture in a still photo.
4th Floor Walls
We asked for a room on an upper floor and got our wish. We headed up to the 4th floor, which is the top floor. That's high for Bentonville.
When the elevator doors opened, we colorful surprise.
Even though I was excited to get to our room, I had to stop and stare at the wall. I was fascinated by the green design, that surrounded the emergency info panels. Were those faces? The patterns below, looked like intricate rugs, perfect for an elaborate dollhouse!
Who's in the Hall?
We turned down the hallway and I spotted one of the hotel's mascots!
I crossed fingers as we headed closer. Please be next to our door! Yep! He seemed to be guarding our room, #405.
Fun With Penguins
I love the 21c Penguins! Each hotel has their own colony. Guests are encouraged to interact with them.
I welcomed our Green Friend into the room for a visit. We checked out the view and looked through some books.
The whole penguin thing started as a temporary exhibit with the opening of the first hotel in 2006.
People fell in love with the red penguins in Louisville, so they stayed. Now, all the hotels have them. I loved our green guy. He looked perplexed when I talked into the receiver, which plugged into my cellphone. (another room perk)
Don and I met our first penguin at the Kansas City hotel. They had sky blue penguins there, which seemed to all disappear into guest rooms, later that evening. Staff claimed that the penguin kidnappings were due to the large number of "kids" staying that night.
That memory kept us from hogging our green guy for too long. After a while, Don took him to the elevator and faced him towards the doors, so he could properly await new guests. An hour later, he was riding the elevator...
More Room Perks
Our room wasn't cheap. Over $300. in a small town, is a lot to me. But the room was hip and spacious and scattered with animals. There was a hen pillow and dog pillow and a mighty fine hippo collage.
In the bathroom, there was another critter. The rubber ducky in the shower would have preferred a tub... like me. But the bathroom's sleek design, glowing mirror and soft robes made up for the lack of tub!
The hotel's Hive Lounge was super crowded, so we enjoyed our own happy hour with a view. I'm sure the lounge wouldn't have been as generous with olives, as Don!
We sat near the window and let it entertain us. We peered down at the orange, "Hoop Tree" and out towards the water tower. Later that night, we gazed down at the lit trees, on the square.
Around 8:00, we headed down to the restaurant and surrounded ourselves with honeycombs, bees and vines.
I also missed the meaning. I read that there was a serious element, to what I thought was whimsical art. The hidden treasures were more sobering than fun. (hidden skulls etc.) The bees looked cute, but there was a message, reminding us about current concerns, with honeybees and environment.
Waiting for a Table
We were told the wait could be 30 minutes for a table, so I made a quick dash while Don did the waiting.
I trotted down a block, with my camera and caught the last of the festivities. The live music had ended at 8, but Santa was still seated in his sleigh outside of Walton's. The trees looked like they wore glowing hairnets! I felt like I had stepped into a Hallmark Christmas movie!
I returned, just as a table opened up in the back corner. It was a fun spot, for taking in the beehive art and watching diners interacting with penguins.
Jessica was our very energetic server. Her black lipstick, colorful glasses and stories, made everything more entertaining. We worked up an appetite while Jessica raved about the chef's specialties.
I was cautious about saving room for the special treat, that I'd observed other diners enjoying.
Cotton Candy With Our Friend!
I've been to a restaurant or two that offered free popcorn, but never cotton candy! I was giddy when Jessica brought our complimentary bags to the table.
As we nibbled, I saw the table across from us leave. I asked Jessica if she could grab their penguin for us. She whirled around and delivered the green guy right to us. Then when I asked her to take our picture she got serious. "Oh we need to stage this!" She cleared our dirty dishes and moved our friend to a better spot. Oh I do love to play at dinner!
The rest of our evening was lovely and we headed out happy the next day.
Our hotel could have been floating at sea and we'd have been content exploring and relaxing inside. But the location in Bentonville was a huge plus. My memory will be a combination of our hotel, the colorful town square and of course the Crystal Bridges Museum.
But let us not forget the penguins! I was afraid I might tire of the fun, but no. Yay for green penguins!
1929 Hotel in Harrison, Arkansas
We found this dandy little Spanish Revival building, just a block from Harrison's town square.
The smooth brick facade was decorated with all sorts of fun stuff.... tile, terra cotta, wrought iron, arches and colorful paint!
Since its beginning in 1929, the building has had many uses.
After closing down to hotel guests in the '60's, the building was purchased by Christian Faith of Wichita and used to house and feed the elderly. In 2008, the hotel reopened after a 3.5 million dollar renovation.
Finding the Door
There were 3 impressive entries to the hotel. The entrance that opened to the lobby was tucked into the corner of the building, away from the street.
We pulled right up in the drive and walked past two striped columns, towards the arched doorway.
Just inside, the 2-story lobby greeted us with huge squares of floor tile and a glowing chandelier.
A lobby desk window was off to the right. A very pleasant staff member, was waiting to check us in.
There was a Old Spanish flavor to the sweet hotel.
Lots of arches and ironwork! I loved the painted birds and flowers on the walls.
Looking down from the mezzanine, we had a good view of the birds and chandelier.
All we needed was a little Flamenco guitar, echoing in the space.
I like a renovation that doesn't clear out all the old. The wooden telephone door looked mighty sweet, with the white curtain. I just had to peek! Instead of a phone in the cozy space, I saw a chair, desk and computer. Nice perk for hotel guests!
The double writing desk was an amusing reminder, that people once wrote postcards from hotels. There was an old style radio sitting on one half, playing some music from the 40's.
We followed the carpeted hall to our room, # 321.
The room was pretty darn small, but so was the price! For around 80 bucks, we got a newly remodeled room in a charming hotel.
The queen bed, bathroom and flat screen TV, gave us some modern comforts. The exposed brick and an odd little bathroom door, were fun reminders of the past. Brown painted, metal door knob... I love it!
John Paul's Bar & Grill
The restaurant and bar at the south end of the hotel had a totally modern face lift.
We returned later in the evening and grabbed up the sleek, blue sofa in the back of the room.
Food and Music
We were relieved to have a comfy place to hang out, since the downtown was quiet and weary looking, on that Friday evening.
We ordered some appetizers for dinner and enjoyed some good people watching. The crowd was made up of locals rather than travelers and everyone seemed to know the deep voiced singer who entertained us with country ballads. The singer's young wife and baby occupied one table. A local artist seated nearby, introduced himself to us, so we didn't feel like total outsiders.
In the morning we were entertained by a club of Fiat Mini drivers, who had all parked their sweet little cars in front.
The cute cars added to our car fun, since the day before we had shared the road with numerous Corvettes. Corvettes and Fiats , enjoying the annual Corvette Arkansas Weekend. Lots of fun cars in Arkansas!
We sampled some of the complimentary breakfast that was served in a small diner area, on the north end of the hotel.
The food options were fairly typical, but the setting with columns, painted beams and tile work, made my coffee taste better than typical.
The term hidden gem is overused, but it fits for Hotel Seville. It was surprising to find such a perfectly renovated and charming hotel, in small town Arkansas.
Ugh. Maybe I shouldn't have shared that. That's a notable piece of information that is not fun. But travels should open your eyes to good and bad. Our hotel was great... that bit of knowledge was not.
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!