The Crescent Hotel was built in 1886 as a resort for the rich and famous, but quickly became unmanageable and fell into disrepair. In 1908, it was reopened as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women. This institution closed down in 1924, and then opened again in 1930 as a junior college. After the college closed in 1934, the Crescent was leased as a summer hotel.
In 1937, millionaire inventor, Norman G. Baker, posed as a doctor and turned the hotel into a hospital that he said could cure cancer. Have the chills yet? Norman, who had a fetish for the color purple, painted many sections of the hospital purple, and today, the chimneys remain that same color. In addition to wearing purple shirts and ties, he drove a purple car as well. People came from all over with hopes of curing their cancer, and many who were treated died.
Eventually, Baker was exposed and run out of town, and today the property is an active hotel. It’s said to be haunted by several ghosts, including a bearded man wearing Victorian clothing and a five-year-old girl.
Having been run out of Iowa for practicing medicine without a license, Baker moved his cancer patients to Arkansas and advertised his new health resort at the Crescent. His “cure” consisted primarily of drinking the area’s natural spring water. In 1940, federal charges were filed against Baker for mail fraud and he spent four years in prison. The Crescent Hotel was left ownerless until 1946. In the spring of 1946, the Crescent Hotel was purchased by John R. Constantine, Herbert E. Shutter, Herbert Byfield, and Dwight Nichols. On March 15, 1967, the hotel was nearly burned to the ground. The only living owner at this time was Dwight Nichols.
In 1997, Marty and Elise Roenigk purchased the Crescent Hotel for $1.3 million. They oversaw a six-year restoration and renovation of the hotel rooms.[ Marty Roenigk died in a car crash in 2009; Elise Roenigk remains the hotel’s current owner.
The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.
In 2007, the hotel was featured on the television show Ghost Hunters where the cast claimed to see a full-body apparition on their thermal imaging camera.