Opening as a lavish hotel and resort in 1886, the Crescent Hotel used the alleged “healing waters” of the Ozarks to spark interest. It worked, and it operated successfully until the early 1900′s, when people started to realize that the water actually had no healing properties. From 1908-1934, the building was used as a college for young women (and a resort during the summer), and briefly as a junior college.
In 1937, Norman Baker purchased the building and opened it as a cancer hospital and health resort. He claimed to have a miracle cure, which turned out to be a scam; Baker was not even a doctor. He was arrested in 1939 for mail fraud, and the “hospital” was closed. The building was abandoned until 1946, when a Chicago businessman purchased and attempted to restore the hotel to its former glory. Though it wasn’t restored to how it was when it first opened, the hotel again began to bring in guests and thrived. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed much of the fourth floor in 1967.
Many had tried to restore the hotel again after the fire, but it wasn’t until Marty and Elise Roenigk purchased, and vowed to properly restore, the hotel in 1997. It was reopened in 2002.
According to the hotel’s website, they claim the title of ”America’s Most Haunted Hotel”, and host nightly ghost tours. One of the most famous haunts is a stonecutter by the name of Michael who helped build the hotel. He fell to his death at the location of what is now room 218 (the hotel’s most requested room). There are numerous reports of other ghosts and strange occurrences including nurses from the hospital days, a ghost in the morgue (which is located in the basement), a cancer patient by the name of Theodora, a Victorian doctor, and many other apparitions. Former bartenders have stories of bottles and glasses levitating and shattering, as well. The hotel has been featured on several television shows dealing with the paranormal, including Syfy’s Ghost Hunters.