ES Independent Column – New Crescent Hotel Book

I worked part time at the Crescent Hotel in the early 1980s, primarily helping with banquets in the Chrystal Dining Room. I recall a narrow dimly-lit corridor in the basement of the hotel that was spooky late at night, but I never saw a ghost. There were employees who truly believed in the idea of a haunted hotel, though. I do remember Morris, the big orange cranky cat who haunted the lobby.

Susan Schaefer has a new book out called The Crescent Hotel…With Ghost Stories. It covers the hotel’s history, and, as the title indicates, provides an overview of the legendary ghosts that are said to inhabit the fine old building on the hill. Many of the ghosts reported over the years are profiled and six even have painted portraits reproduced in the book. My understanding is that the paranormal reputation of the Crescent is a bigger draw now than it ever has been, and that people come from all over the globe for a chance to experience something otherworldly. I’ve always intended to go on one of the ghost tours, but have yet to do so.

Susan Schaefer worked several years at the Crescent Hotel, including time as the Dining Room Manager and the Wedding Coordinator, and her thorough familiarity with the Crescent Hotel is apparent. This is her sixth book on Eureka Springs and her understanding of all facets of Eureka’s history is obvious. She makes ample use of historic newspaper articles and photographs to illustrate the hotel’s history. Everything is covered, from the Crescent’s early grandeur to its years as a women’s college and later as the infamous cancer hospital.

I learned a great deal by reading this book. For instance, I had no idea that the ceiling in the dining room is suspended from above by cables. This design allows the open expanse of the large room to be unbroken by pillars for support. This is just one of many interesting tidbits in the book.

I was horrorified by one story in the book, but it wasn’t the descriptions of the ghosts. When the Crescent was purchased in 1973, it was with the intention of tearing it down and selling the stone to a company in Kansas. Luckily for Eureka Springs, that didn’t happen.

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