Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dr. Norman Baker, Here I Come!

Yes, admit one nervous adult.

My past two previous posts have told the tale of visiting the "Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks" as The Crescent Hotel is affectionately called. I signed up last Wednesday for the nightly ghost tour that was to begin at 8 PM.  (Clint passed on the tour)

Glen, our ghost tour guide.  He was excellent! 

We were to meet at what was called the faculty lounge on the 4th floor.  Our tour guide was Glen and there were seven of us on the tour.  Glen presented an introduction about the Crescent Hotel and some of its history. Glen said some of us would get orbs in our photos.  I didn't get any but Terri, one of the other guests, got several orbs in her photos. One in particular was a very large one near Glen, the very first photo she took on the tour.  In its 124 year history, the Crescent is most known for what took place during the three years from 1937 through 1940.  This dark time began with the arrival of a man driving a purple car... Dr. Norman Baker.  Where does one begin to describe this man?  He leased The Crescent Hotel for his hospital, he announced he had found a "cure" for cancer.  For three years the Crescent was a cancer hospital.

In 1908 The Crescent College and Conservatory
for Young Women opened at the Crescent Hotel.

The cancer treatment options mentioned on the following sign, "knife, radium, x-ray, serum", have not changed in 73 years!

In 1937 the Crescent was known as the
Baker Hospital in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. 

Our tour guide says 420 patients died at this "hospital".  Baker would have the patients write their families letters stating they were almost cured and needed more money for further treatments.  Dr. Baker also performed operations in settings such as parks and theatres. He would drill in patients heads, expose their brains and pour in his "cure" which consisted of ground watermelon seeds, brown corn silk and  spring water.  His days of being a vaudeville magician came in handy with these exhibitions and he drew large crowds.

Glen shown here  telling us about Theadora's room. 
This room gave me the creeps!

Dr. Baker was also involved in experimenting with organ transplants and saving body parts of the deceased patients and freezing them.  Legend also has it that Baker hid bodies in the hotel until night time and would then burn them in the hotel incinerator.  He attempted to keep the cancer deaths secret so the patients would not know they were not cured.  He has also been accused of hiring people to sit on the veranda, drinking cocktails and playing cards so passersby would be impressed.  Yes, this "health resort" gave the illusion of curing all our ills.  It is estimated Baker brought in over 4 million dollars.

Morris, a cat who had lived at the Crescent Hotel.
He lived 21 years and his ghost is now seen roaming the halls.

The body transplants he performed were done to spread the word of his "cure".  If a patient had a cancerous arm, Baker would amputate the arm and replace it with an arm from a cadaver.  Baker would send a photo of the patient with the "cured" arm to the patient's family or better yet, have the patient write the family and announce he/she had been cured!

Dr. Baker was no medical doctor at all.  As a matter of fact, Norman Baker had never set foot in a medical school.  He was finally arrested in 1940 for mail fraud and served four years in Leavenworth. 

Mug shot of Norman Baker.

Our tour guide showed us a photo from The New York Times that was of the yacht on which Norman Baker died.  The story goes that Baker was at sea, a glass bottle that held his only "painkiller" was accidentally broken and he died a painful and agonizing death from liver cancer.  "Karma"?, as our tour guide Glen suggested.

The freezer where "Dr." Baker stored body parts and bodies:

I was freaked out at this stage of the tour ...

Locker # 2, site of figure captured
by the TV show, Ghost Hunters.  This site
is right outside the morgue.

Photo from

This image was filmed by the TV show,  Ghost Hunters,
this was the figure right beside the locker # 2.

The hotel's laundry room, the place where Glen saw his first and
only ghost at the hotel.  A dark shadowy figure whizzed by where Glen is
standing in this photo and disappeared into the wall where the
calender is located.  This was witnessed by a tour group who thought
the event was staged.  One member asked Glen, "Can you do that again?"
The "table" in the morgue where "Dr." Baker performed
what-ever-he-did to the bodies of the cancer patients.

A bronze sculpture picturing Michael at the bottom (face can't be seen in this photo)
with Michael's mother calling him up to Heaven.  Michael, an young Irish brick mason,
possessed a special skill in a type of masonry called "dry stack".  He fell
to his death and landed in what is now room # 218 while working on
the construction of the hotel.  The stories abound on strange
phenomena associated with this room.

 The tour ended in the morgue with Glen communicating with the morgue "spirit" using an EMF detector.  This was done in total darkness. (deep breath!) I had no idea there was going to be any attempt at a conversation with one of these spirits. I have never done this sort of thing before.  What ever this "thing" is in the morgue, it let it be known it is a "he", he knew Dr. Baker, he does not like Dr. Baker, he knows there is a possum loose in the morgue and that there is a trap set for it, (I kid you not:-)) he did not die there and he does not like having people come there on tours.

Never before had I experienced such waves of goosebumps and cold chills!  I want to say I am a little less fearful of such things but still am not able to say it.  As Terri, her husband and I were walking down the long hallway after the tour, Glen is locking up the morgue and says something to us.  We stop and he is wanting us to "wait up" for him, Glen goes on to say he still gets creeped out by the morgue.  ;-)

P.S. The hotel guest who had the room across from us, room #202, is known as a room there with activity.  She did not know this when she booked the room.  I had found it on Google that day and
told her about it when the subject came up. She asked Glen and he confirmed what I had read.


Clint said...

Loose possum in the hotel? A ghost of Morris the cat? Body parts? My, my. What a tour. Or, as the Wicked Witch of the West would say, "What a World!, What a world!"

Cindy Ellison said...

What a world, indeed! Wonder why the Morris cat ghost doesn't catch the live possum?


Wow, you definitely faced your fears and braved those areas where activities are suppose to happen (thanks to that loony Mr Baker).I commend you for that. Clint must've been proud too. hehe.

The part about lights off, i can never stand that. I would probably freak out and run away from the ghost tour haha! I enjoyed reading this story, loved it! It felt as if i was there too, thanks to your fab pics and detailed narration. Cheers! :-)

KcomeKarolina said...

wow! scary.... :/
i just bumped into your blog! love it!


Anonymous said...

I just bumped into your blog as well. I just wanted to say I have been there many times, as a matter of fact just this past weekend, but have never taken the tour or stayed there. We just go there for a drink or to eat, however I would like to do both. I like to think that I wouldn't be scared of it, after all none of the sightings have ever included violence. The first time I was ever there was in 1991 and that cat was there(alive) along with another, and they just roamed the hotel freely. They were both friendly.

Anonymous said...

I heard about this place on tv. Iam interested in ghosts. But I would never be able to stay there!! I'm also looking up the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Aparently a lot of people have died there and are haunting it.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you had a good time. The ghost tour is indeed fun and scary *but*the crescent "mediums" operate their own business much the same as they portrayed how Norman Baker ran his. They use absolutely no primary sources and while not every case of Cancer can be cured, Norman baker did in fact cure a great many people. The Mediums, which are not affiliated with the crescent except only to tell your average ghost story are in fact, commiting Libel and Slander.

B0FF0 said...

HAHA. No he didn't! Hundreds died under his "care" and quackery. The guy was an intelligent nut.
There definitely IS activity all over the Crescent Hotel, no matter what.
I sure enjoyed this blog!

Anonymous said...

B0FF0, have you ever bothered to research Norman Baker outside of what the tour said? I've personally listened to recordings of Norman's late nephew Stanley, long after Norman's death, discussing how Norman's cure worked "just beautiful" on skin cancer.

katie said...

dr. norman baker was fake doctor and he did that stuff in muscatine too bc im from muscatine and i found out he open a guy's head open in front a crowd and it was in a park too

only child said...

wondering if this hotel has rooms that share a bathroom and if on the way to it you drive up an incline? Trying to find the one I stayed in as a child with my parents. They are now dead. All Mom said was it was the ozarks. At the time in the 1960's it was a lodge type big building. I remember my father fishing out of the creeks within walking distance and which I believe lined the drive to the hotel. Could this be this one? anything sound like it?

Serenity said...