Top 3: Arkansas's Haunted Hotels
Updated: Nov 18, 2019
Well hello strangers...
Welcome back to Abnormal Arkansas for our second story this week! I thought I would change things up a bit this week so I decided to write a story suggested by one of our readers (shoutout to Woody for the great topic suggestion)!
Most people don't know this, but the state of Arkansas has some VERY creepy locations. One of these locations I have been to myself, and it just so happened to be one of the reasons for starting this blog. With that being said...
Let's start the countdown.
#3: Capital Hotel
Little Rock, Arkansas
The Capital Hotel officially opened its doors in 1877 in the downtown Little Rock area (before this time, the building served as a hub for small businesses and shops). The hotel was seen as the definition of "luxurious," with the building being one of the very few in the city of Little Rock with electricity, plumbing and heating units.
The building hosted many wealthy business owners and housed former President Ulysses Grant for a short period of time. In the late '90s, the hotel even served as a local headquarters for former President Bill Clinton during his presidency. The hotel drew many people from the upper class with its hospitable workers and luxury accommodations.
But what draws people to the hotel now?
There are several rumors and legends that say that the hotel has a dark past. The legends begin with the complete restoration of the hotel in 2007. Some people say that they have seen the spirit of a laborer who had supposedly fallen to his death while completing renovations on the building. Rumors state that he wanders the halls of the hotel since his death. Another apparition of a young woman is seen wandering the halls of the fourth floor. Some say she was murdered, and others say that she committed suicide in her room. Since her supposed death, she can be heard crying and weeping, and others state that she likes to play tricks and move objects around the rooms and turn lights on and off.
Record keeping during this time was not the best, so these spirits will remain legends of the Capital Hotel. One thing is for sure, many people are still drawn to the hotel as it remains one of the most famous hotels in the state of Arkansas.
#2: The Empress of Little Rock
Little Rock, Arkansas
The Hornibrook House was built in 1888, and this home served as the private residence of James H. Hornibrook, a native of Toronto who moved to Arkansas to establish a saloon, and his wife Margaret McCully Hornibrook. Unfortunately, at the end construction, James Hornibrook died from a stroke, and it is said he died right at the gates of the home. His wife would die only two years later.
Shortly after the death of the Hornibrooks, the home became the Arkansas Women's College, the first of its kind in the state. The success of the college was short lived as The Great Depression would shut the doors of the school. The building remained vacant until 1948, where the building became a nursing home. No business lasted very long in the building because, shortly after this, the building would once again become a private residence.
A new owner purchased the property and restored the building to a bed and breakfast in 1994, which is now known as The Empress of Little Rock. The building stands as the state's greatest form of Victorian architecture, but soon the owners would realize that the ornate architecture is not the only thing that makes this property special...
The owners have reported seeing a man, dressed in period clothing and a top hat, floating down the stairway. There have been many sightings from guests, from a seeing maid who would disappear to also seeing an old sea captain lurking around the property! The home has seen many people in the 100+ years since it was built, and many construction projects have altered the original building (which some believe could be the reason for the unexplained phenomena and unrest from the reported spirits that haunt the building). Other reports have stated that people have heard ghostly footsteps coming from around the building along with the laughter of children and disembodied voices. One of the most famous reports comes from a painter who worked on the home during the restoration period. The man stated that he was working in a room of the home, went to leave, but found he had been locked in the room... with no handle or door knob in the door.
The home still stands as a beautiful piece of history and architecture.. so when you are in the area, stop by and see if you can meet the former owner, James Hornibrook, who visitors have also seen before he disappears into thin air.
#1: The Crescent Hotel
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
The Crescent Hotel was built in 1886 as a local spot for the wealthy and famous aristocrats. This "fame" did not last long as the building quickly closed its doors. The building was purchased again in 1908 and reopened as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women. The college lasted for several years (one of the rooms is still set up as a class room), but closed in 1924 to reopen as a junior college a few years later in 1930. The college would close shortly after.
For the next few years, the building would be used for a summer hotel until the building caught the eye of Norman G. Baker, a wealthy inventor and charismatic radio personality. He had moved to Arkansas after he was run out of the state of Iowa for practicing medicine illegally without a medical license. He purchased the building and advertised it as a health and wellness resort and that he allegedly had the "cure" for several ailments, including cancer, which would consist merely of patients drinking the natural spring water from the springs around the town of Eureka Springs. While operating the "hospital," Baker was investigated and charged with mail fraud for selling his "cures" through the mail. According to historical reports, Norman Baker made approximately $500,000 a year selling his "cures." It was discovered through these fraud investigations that he had also conned the cancer patients and their families out of around $4,000,000. In 1939, Norman Baker was sentenced to four years in Leavenworth, Kansas. He would serve his sentence, move to Florida to live a comfortable life, and pass away in 1958.
The building would remain vacant for several years until 1946. The building was purchased by several business owners where part of the building would burn down. In 1997, the building was purchased by Marty and Elise Roenigk and restored to the 72-room hotel known as the present day Crescent Hotel.
The Crescent Hotel is full of history, but its haunting history is what many visitors use to explain the strange occurrences that happen around the grounds. The hotel was featured on the show "Ghost Hunters" twice, where the team captured a full-body apparition during their first investigation, and "Paranormal Witness." Some of the unexplained happenings include:
Dr. Baker is reportedly seen around the hotel lobby. Visitors report seeing a man in a purple shirt and white suit, which matches an old photograph of Dr. Baker.
A nurse is seen pushing a gurney around the basement where Norman Baker kept his morgue and autopsy table (the morgue and autopsy table are still in the basement to this day).
A woman named "Theodora" introduces herself to housekeepers and visitors as a cancer patient of Norman Baker and immediately disappears.
During 1886 when construction workers were building the hotel, it was reported that an Irish stone mason fell to his death in what is now room 218. Hotel staff refer to this entity that is felt in this room as "Michael." People report hearing a man screaming, objects and personal items being hidden around the room, and hands coming out of their bathroom mirror.
These are only a few of hundreds of reports around the hotel that can not be explained. Hundreds of people a year flock to the hotel to have their own personal encounters with the spirits of The Crescent Hotel, and the hotel is known as one of the most haunted hotels in America.
Thank you for taking the time to read about the top three most haunted hotels in Arkansas! The first topic on our first podcast will be the extensive history of The Crescent Hotel, where both my fiancé and I have both visited! The Crescent Hotel just happens to be one of the reasons for starting Abnormal Arkansas. Stay tuned as we will be beginning our podcast very soon, and check back next Sunday for our next story!
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Stay strange, my friends.