Sunday, February 14, 2010

Guest Blogger: Tracy S. Morris

The winner of Tracy's book is: donnas! Congrats, donnas. I'll send your email address along to Tracy. Thanks to everyone who participated.
Haunted Hotel

As you approach the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, you aren’t likely to think of it as the perfect setting for a ghost story like the one in Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, especially when you see it on its hilltop home, offset by a cheery white conservatory, the gazebo in the foreground and the blue sky behind it. It’s hard to believe the claims that this is the most haunted hotel in America.

But once you know the history of the Crescent Hotel, you may think otherwise. Then, the five story Victorian Gothic with balconies, thick stone walls and overhangs takes on a more sinister feel.

In the early 1880's when the hotel was constructed, the Ozark Mountains were in the throes of a tourist boom unlike any the South had seen before – or would again. At the time, doctors believed that the spring waters so abundant to the region had curative powers. The legacy of that belief still exists in the names of towns like Eureka Springs and Siloam Springs.

The hotel earned its first ghost during construction, when Michael, an Irish stonemason working high on the roof, fell and landed in the second floor area. The place where he landed, now room 218, is said to be the most haunted room in the building.

Despite this early tragedy, work went on. The hotel opened to much fanfare, drawing tourists from across the nation to enjoy the beauty of the Ozarks and imbibe the supposedly healing properties of the spring waters. However, interest in the area as a vacation destination died off once people realized that the waters had no healing properties.

Over the next few years the hotel began a gradual slide into disrepair. It was used first as a girls school and then as a women's college. During this time it’s haunted reputation grew. Usually the ghosts were attached to stories of wayward girls and lovelorn young women who had either hung themselves or thrown themselves from the balconies in a fit of depression.

But the real horror was yet to come.

In 1937, Norman Baker leased the hotel with the intention of turning it into a health resort. Baker was a charismatic man who thought of himself as a medical expert. Through a nationally-broadcast radio show, Baker claimed to have discovered the cure for a laundry list of ailments, including cancer.

This would be the second health resort that Baker ran. The first, In Muscatine, Iowa, was closed down by the authorities. Undaunted, Baker moved his patients to his new resort in Eureka Springs and advertised his resort with the claim that he had saved patients lives without using X-rays or operations.

The patients who went to Baker for help found only disappointment and death. And while records show that no one died due to Baker's treatments (which mostly consisted of spring water and ground watermelon seeds) their suffering was drawn out while they submitted to Baker's treatments rather than seeking true medical care.

Eventually, Baker was arrested on charges of mail fraud. And while authorities believe he was nothing more than a quack and a con man, locals tell a different story.

Baker, they say, liked to experiment on his patients – both living and dead. One of his more gruesome treatments – according to rumor – was to peel back the patient's scalp and pour his curative directly into the patient's brain. According to legend, dozens of patients died from this treatment.

Supposedly, when the hotel was later renovated, workmen found skeletons hidden within the walls. To this day, local legends say that there are preserved body parts still in the hotel – hidden so well that even the hotel's current owners haven't been able to find them.

The Crescent has since been renovated and opened again to tourists. The hotel staff receives frequent reports of ghostly activity throughout the Crescent. Hotel guests, particularly guests in room 218, report being shaken awake at night. Others have seen a silent man, dressed in Victorian clothing, sitting silently in the bar area.

The hotel once had an antique switchboard in the basement, but it was unhooked and removed after it had been left off the hook one too many times. Locking the basement doors didn't seem to help, so eventually the hotel simply removed it. Even Dr. Baker and one of his Nurses have been seen at the hotel.

The hotel offers ghost tours nightly, seven days a week.


Tracy is offering: an autographed copy of Bride of Tranquility. I'm also doing a give away for the entire blog tour. People who link back to this article at Paranormity (or any of my articles during the tour) and let me know at will be entered into a drawing for a gift certificate good toward the bookstore of their choice.

The winner of Tracy's book here at Paranormality will be selected and posted on Tuesday evening. Stop back by to see if you won.


Blogger donnas said...

Awesome story. I love it. And so close (I am in MO). What a perfect spot for a weekend getaway! Thanks!

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8:26 PM  
Blogger mariska said...

I love ghost story. And I want this book badly !!

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8:39 PM  
Anonymous name numerology said...

Is this place included in the "100 Scariest Place on Earth"?

6:26 AM  
Blogger tetewa said...

Enjoyed the post today, sounds like a good read!

9:51 AM  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

Great post, this books looks great! I cannot wait to read it.

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12:40 PM  
Blogger Victoria Roder said...

Great blog. I'd love a night in a haunted hotel. I think.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

Oh boy, I really, really want this book. I love a good spooky story!!!

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