Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Road Trippin' To The Crescent


Second Day

After visiting the Thorncrown Chapel shown in the previous post, (found HERE in case you missed it) we went to see the famous Crescent Hotel.


This place has so much colorful history that there is no way I can do it justice, so I will only hit the high points.

It opened in 1886 as an exclusive year-round resort hotel for rich folks from all over the country.  It was the publicity of  the many "healing" water springs in the area that brought them in by the thousands.  Soon, many of these do-wells built large homes and Eureka Springs became one of the largest and most affluent cities in the state.


By 1901 modern medications were replacing the myths of curative springs, and people began leaving by the droves.  The population went from tens of thousands to one thousand in only months.

There was no longer a need for this grand hotel with its southern hospitality and dances except in the summer.


From 1908-1934 the hotel was used as the Crescent College & Conservatory for Young Women to offset the off seasons at the hotel. The boarding school was primarily for girls from well-to-do families from many states.  When the Great Depression hit, sending daughters away to expensive southern colleges, wasn't a priority and the school was forced to close in 1934.  It did remain open as a hotel during the summer months.


There was a whole fourth floor room dedicated to memories and memorabilia from the days of the college.  It was very interesting.



 Three years after closing, the doors of the hotel opened again to a most fascinating and tragic alternative use.  This is perhaps the most colorful era of the hotels history.

In 1937 a charlatan who allowed himself to be referred to as "doctor," purchased the hotel and converted it to Baker's Cancer Curing Hospital.  His name was Norman Glenwood Baker of Muscatine, Iowa.

Postcard
  I'll let you read his history but suffice it to say, the Chamber of Commerce's desire to see this treatment center revitalize the dying little town, never happened.  But it did bring it some notoriety.

Mr. Baker, in his mistreatment of patients with various diseases, led to the death of many.  His philosophy for treating pain was to do nothing but tough it out.  For those who remained in his care and suffered great discomfort, he locked them up in his "sanitarium" wing of the hospital so no one could hear the screams.  That is the source of much of the folklore of the hotel now being haunted.


Another reminder of this strange time in its history are the purple chimneys.  Purple was Baker's favorite color and evidently he had it everywhere.  He even wore lavender ties with his traditional white suits every day.  He hated Jews and Catholics and was so paranoid that he not only kept two machine guns in his office, but often carried one around with him.



He managed to store away $500, 000 before being arrested in 1940 for mail fraud.  After being released from federal prison a few years later, Baker purchased a 3-story yacht and it is there he died in 1958 of cirrhosis of the liver.  It is said that he died in agony as many of his patients had.  Sad story!

The hotel has had several owners since that time but the owners in 1972 saved it from becoming a chicken house, thankfully.

 




View from 4th floor balcony and overlook
The current owners have dedicated themselves to restoring the "Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks" and it is now not only a tourist site, hosting a famous ghost tour, but a highly desired place to spend the night in Eureka Springs.  If you don't mind strange happenings.

Behind the hotel and down a very steep decline, is the Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church.



It is most well known as the only church that you enter through the bell chamber.  The grounds and old church are lovely.

After this busy morning, we were ready to find a place for lunch and to sit down a spell.  That will be the 3rd Edition tomorrow but I leave you with our friend picture.


2 comments:

  1. So interesting! I did see some organ pipes in a sitting room but it didn't seem to have a console from which to play. Odd.

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  2. It has been so long since we've been to Eureka Springs that you make me want to go again! I love it there. :)

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