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Discover the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, which was once one of the leading hotels for the historic Frisco Railroad.

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1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2000, dates back to 1886.


Known as the “The Grand Ol’ Lady of The Ozarks,” the history of the Crescent Hotel is the story of Eureka Springs—they both exist because of the local water. More than 60 springs—which bubbled up “healing water” in and around Eureka’s downtown area—were visited by thousands of tourists in the late 19th century. A former Governor of Arkansas and United States Senator named Clayton Powell was among those who traveled to the city at the time. As his political career matured, he got involved in the local railroad business. In order to make the endeavor incredibly profitable, men like Powell sought to establish a mixture of commercial and recreational traffic. As such, it became common to sponsor the creation of hotels that would incentivize passenger travel along their tracks. When Powell discovered Eureka Springs’ mineral water, he determined to make the city a leading holiday. Partnering with a friend name Richard Kearns, the two men sponsored the creation of the Eureka Springs Railroad, which operated as a branch of the St. Louis—San Francisco Railway. Then, in 1884, they commissioned architect Isaac S. Taylor to build a luxurious hotel high atop a cliff that overlooked the heart of Eureka Springs. Powell and Kearns saved no expense, spending some $294,000 to construct the building. It proved to be a massive endeavor. Irish stonemasons carved and assembled 18-inch-thick blocks of limestone from a White River quarry just 10 miles from the construction site. These artisans were brought over to the United States by Powell’s Eureka Springs Improvement Company for the sole purpose of building the hotel. Like the Eureka Springs Railroad, the company was also headed by Powell Clayton. Following nearly two years of construction, The Crescent Hotel—named after the mountaintop upon which it sat—was finally complete.

On May 20, 1886, the doors swung open, and a grand opening gala was held in what is now the Crystal Dining Room. Hundreds of well-dressed guests danced across the hardwood floors to the strains of a live orchestra, pausing only to sip fine wine and nosh on such delectable treats. One of the signature dishes served at the soiree was Crab Lorenzo, a meal that is still served at the hotel today. Among the most prestigious guests at that opening was James G. Blaine, former U.S. Congressman, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State. Blaine was also a candidate in the most recent presidential election, losing what was a tight race to Grover Cleveland. Other dignitaries in attendance included State Supreme Court justices, federal magistrates, Arkansas constitutional officers, and numerous high-ranking military men. Seizing upon the ever-growing popularity of Eureka Springs’ “healing waters,” the hotel was purchased by the Frisco railroad company in 1905. Its company officers hoped to serve their customers with the hotel, while they cultivated ridership from places throughout the Midwest. Yet, when the railroad saw a continuous decline in occupancy in the off-season, a group of concerned residents encouraged it to lease the structure as a dormitory. In 1908, the Crescent College & Conservatory for Young Women opened for “fine young ladies.” It soon became one of the most exclusive boarding academies in Arkansas, training the minds of countless women who passed through its doors. Due to tough economic times brought on by the Great Depression, the college closed completely in 1934. The hotel resumed operating, but only during the summer months.

Then, in 1937, a charlatan who allowed himself to be called “doctor” purchased the Crescent Hotel and converted it to “Baker’s Cancer Curing Hospital.” Baker nationally advertised a strict regimen of fresh air, healthy food, and exercise as the basis for his cancer treatments. They assumed the character of the mystical, though, when he accompanied the treatment with the use of an elixir that mainly consisted of alcohol and watermelon. Many perished while receiving Baker’s hopeless therapy, and legends persist that their spirits still haunt the building. But justice finally caught up to Baker, who was soon arrested for fraud and imprisoned in Leavenworth Federal Prison in 1940. A friend of Baker’s began running the hotel shortly after his trial, eventually turning it over to a group of Chicago-based businessmen some six years later. It subsequently underwent a period of fluid ownership over the next several decades, experiencing cycles of prosperity and hardship. Nevertheless, the Crescent Hotel hosted countless vacations, weddings, and honeymoons to the hundreds who ventured to the Ozarks. Fortunately, the Crescent Hotel finally saw an end to its cyclical period of ownership when Marty and Elise Roenigk purchased the business in 1997. Their stewardship marked the beginning of a true renaissance for the hotel. Initiating a series of thorough renovations that saw the building restored to its former glory, the couple proudly relaunched the location as the “1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa.” Thanks to their devout stewardship, its grand Gilded Age charm still exists for future generations to appreciate. In fact, the U.S. Department of the Interior listed the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa on the National Register of Historic Places, due to the hard work undertaken by the Roenigks. A member of Historic Hotels of America since 2007, this fantastic historic hotel is one of the best in all of Arkansas.

  • About the Location +

    As American pioneers pushed west in the mid-19th century, people began settling the northern Ozarks along the Arkansas—Missouri border. A few were attracted to the present-day site of Eureka Springs due to the rumors of a great network of mineral springs in the area. Local legends abounded of how the Native Americans of the Osage tribe specifically inhabited close to the wells, where the thermal waters healed their minds and bodies. After years of exploring the surrounding countryside, Doctor Alvah Jackson supposedly discovered the location in 1854. He was convinced that the spring water possessed the magical medicinal properties of myth after it healed the eyes of his ailing young son. Dr. Jackson quickly established a practice in a nearby cave, selling bottles of the water as a tonic called “Dr. Jackson’s Eye Water” to anyone who ventured to his outpost. He even used it to treat wounded soldiers on both sides during the American Civil War, especially those who fought in the Battle of Pea Ridge a few miles to the west outside of Leetown. Staying in the area after the war had subsided, Dr. Jackson invited his friend, Judge Levi Best Saunders, to his retreat to help heal a festering sore on his leg in 1879. Miraculously, the judge attested that the mineral waters had repaired his injury within the span of just a few weeks. Judge Saunders then dedicated himself to Dr. Jackson’s cause, using his connections throughout the region to spread the word about the well. The judge’s own son, Buck, suggested that his father and Dr. Jackson refer to the attraction as the “Eureka Spring” as an allegory to the fabled Fountain of Youth.

    Judge Saunders campaign worked. Soon enough, some 20 families had migrated to the area and established makeshift camps near the doctor’s practice. Their arrival heralded the beginning of a massive population boom that saw hundreds of people settle the locale over the next two decades. In the first year alone, the settlement had grown large enough that the Arkansas state legislature consented to incorporating it as a city. For a time, Eureka Springs was even the largest community in all of Arkansas, save for the capital, Little Rock. Eventually, news of Eureka Springs reached a few businessmen from across the state, including a former Governor of Arkansas named Clayton Powell. Powell and several other capitalists had specifically become involved in the railroads, funding the development of new train routes through the Ozarks. Like most locomotive tycoons at the time, those active in Eureka Springs desired to incentivize recreational travel along their tracks. Therefore, the businessmen constructed magnificent hotels as a means to encourage passengers to use their services. Powell soon helped financed the construction of the Eureka Springs Railroad, which functioned as a spur of the much larger St. Louis – San Francisco Railway, otherwise known as “Frisco.” He then constructed luxurious holiday retreat called “The Crescent Hotel” nearby. Both were fully operational by 1886. Powell had financed their development through his Eureka Springs Improvement Company, which had also played a role in creating of a modern sewage system, an electrical grid, and new paved streets for the city. His plan worked flawlessly, as countless visitors flooded downtown Eureka Springs by the end of the century.

    Eureka Springs’ initial prosperity as a resort community would not last, as the advent of modern medicine caused interest in the mineral springs to decline. The economy picked up again in the 1920s due to the automobile, but the coming Great Depression significantly blunted the recovery. Many of the businesses that serviced the local hospitality industry shuttered their doors, never to open again. Even the great Crescent Hotel was affected for a while, operating temporarily as a the Crescent College and Conservatory of Young Women before briefly becoming a cancer hospital run by the infamous Doctor Norman Baker. In the years immediately following the Second World War, a small artist colony emerged at Eureka Springs, composed of intellectuals who worked in the local branch of the Works Progress Administration. This fascinating community endured over the next several decades, giving rise to a rich appreciation for the arts among those living in Eureka Springs. It also helped revitalize outside interest with the city, as tourist travel started to pick up once more in the mid-20th century. The construction of Beaver Dam and Beaver Lake nearby in the 1960s only further advanced the economic renaissance occurring within the city. Eureka Springs today is among the most culturally vibrant communities in the entire Ozarks. Thousands of people now travel regularly to the city to experience its exciting attractions, as well as the beautiful scenery throughout the neighboring countryside. All the while, the Crescent Hotel has remained at the center of this interest, hosting guests once again in the same manner it first had over a century ago.

  • About the Architecture +

    Clayton Powell and his business associate Richard Kearns hired the renowned architect Isaac S. Taylor to design the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa. Born in Nashville, Taylor had actually pursued studies in classical languages while a student at St. Louis University. Yet, by a twist of fate, he started working at the architectural firm of George Ingraham Barnett as a young man. Due to his experiences working for Barnett, Taylor fell in love with the profession and established his own firm. Taylor’s company would operate over the next quarter of a century, designing a variety of municipal and commercial structures in both America and Mexico. Specializing in designs that fused the design principles of the French Renaissance and Richardson Romanesque architecture, he rapidly gained fame across the continent for his hardworking demeanor and attention to detail. This unrivaled dedication to his craft eventually earned him the appointment of Chairman of the Architectural Commission and Director of the Works for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. Among the most prominent buildings that Taylor designed throughout his lifetime are located in St. Louis, including the Mercantile Club Building, the Rialto Building, and the Drummond Building. He even crafted the original façade of the Union Station Hotel, which is also a member of Historic Hotels of America. Many of those structures were listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior for their beauty and eloquence.

    When Isaac S. Taylor finally designed The Crescent Hotel, he used a wonderful blend of Richardson Romanesque-revival style architecture. This wonderful architectural style first appeared in North America in the middle of the 19th century, as design principles from both Rome and medieval Europe found a popular audience. Architects interested in specializing in Romanesque Revival-themed architecture specifically studied the works of Norman and Lombard engineers who were active in the 11th and 12th centuries. Structures created with the aesthetic are commonly defined by their pronounced round arches and round towers. Yet, those grand archways and towers were far less ostentatious than their historic counterparts located on the other side of the Atlantic. Romanesque Revival-style architecture also implemented squat columns, decorative wall carvings, and the extensive use of masonry. But architects would sometimes favor wood over bricks or stones due to financial concerns.

    The first wave of Romanesque Revival-style architecture impacted North America in the 1840s and 1850s, appearing in such cities like Washington, D.C., and Toronto. University College at the greater University of Toronto is one such example of a brilliant Romanesque Revival-inspired structure to emerge at the time. But the general public in both the United States and Canada did not fully embrace the aesthetic, preferring the tastes of Italianate and Gothic Revival architecture at the time. It was not until an American architect named Henry Hobson Richardson started using the form in the late 1800s that Romanesque Revival style finally became popular. A graduate from the renowned École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Richardson developed numerous designs in places like New York City, Boston, and Detroit. His approach to Romanesque Revival style was somewhat different, as it also incorporated elements of medieval Mediterranean design principles. His vision of Romanesque Revival-style architecture was soon embraced by other architects, including those in neighboring Canada. Historians today largely refer to Richardson’s design philosophy as “Richardson Romanesque” architecture.

  • Famous Historic Events +

    Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women (1908): By the beginning of the 20th century, the Frisco railroad company had become increasingly worried about the declining revenue streams affecting the Crescent Hotel. The advent of modern medical practices had sapped popular interest with the city’s mineral springs, which significantly depressed outside interest with the town. A few people affiliated with the ESIC decided to arrange of the hotel to be leased by other organizations in order to save it financially. One board members named A.S. Maddox championed the idea of allowing an exclusive all-girls academy to operate from the facility throughout most of the year. Having managed a successful female seminary in Little Rock, Maddox would sponsor its creation himself (with help from another colleague, J.H. Phillips). When the students finally departed for the summer, the Crescent Hotel would temporarily resume its former identity as a holiday retreat. As such, the building would maintain the same occupancy levels it once entertained two decades prior.

    Debuting as the “Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women” in 1908, the ESIC kept enrollment fixed at 88 students. The initial class was quite diverse, as it hailed from 39 different states. Maddox served as the institution’s first president, overseeing the implementation of a rigorous curriculum of centered on mathematics, science, languages, and history. Soon enough, the college had built a national reputation for its high standards and moral code. In fact, the students were required to wear a special uniform and keep their interactions with the outside world limited so as to encourage the development of their education. Tuition could cost parents around $400 per year, which in today’s currency would cost nearly $10,000. After two years, Maddox stepped down and offered his position to Richard Ray Thompson, a popular faculty member who had taught at the school since its inception. Interestingly, his wife, Mary Breckenridge Thompson, taught classes in French and physical hygiene. She was joined alongside eight other teachers, who endeared themselves greatly with their pupils. Over time, the college offered additional courses in such fields like music, business, and art. It also specialized in teaching a popular outdoor educational program that focused on activities that included tennis, hiking, and horseback riding.

    Thompson continued as the college’s president for more than a decade, until its lease with the Crescent Hotel expired in 1924. He desperately sought to raise the money necessary to keep the institution alive, but ultimately came up short. Without the appropriate level of funding to keep the institution open—let alone purchase the hotel outright from the ESIC—the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women closed its doors. An imbittered article ran in the Eureka Springs Flashlight stated that a “lack of interest, lack of funds, and a lack of backing by the citizens” had spelled ruined for the school. Yet, all was not lost for the college, as renewed community interest in reviving it swelled. By 1930, a group of concerned citizens managed to reopen the school as “Crescent Junior College” with A.Q. Burns as its president. The faculty and its attending staff regained its prestigious status, which attracted new scores of students in the first few months it was open. The college even debuted a competitive basketball team called the “Crescent Comets.” The future seemed bright for the school, but the cruel financial hardships of the Great Depression undermined its financial longevity. As students found it increasingly more difficult to pay tuition, the Crescent Junior College closed forever. Yet, the memory of both schools are preserved today by the dedicated staff of the 1885 Crescent Hotel & Spa.

    Baker’s Cancer Curing Hospital (1937): When Norman G. Baker opened his “Baker’s Cancer Curing Hospital” at the Crescent Hotel in 1937, he was already widely regarded as a medical hack. A former vaudeville actor and self-proclaimed inventor, Baker had originally risen to prominence as a local radio host in his hometown of Musctaine, Iowa. He spent his days advocating populist causes that denounced the supposed greed of America’s largest corporations and financial institutions. He probably would have lived out his days as a well-respected, wealthy man had he not abandoned the station for a career in medicine. In 1929, Baker had become aware of a special cancer sanitarium operated by a Dr. Charles Ozias. Ozais supposedly “cured” his patients using a tonic that relied upon a concoction of glycerine, carbolic acid, and alcohol. He then mixed the formula with watermelon seeds, brown corn silk, and clover leaves. Curious to know if the cure worked, Baker asked for five volunteers to try the treatment. While all the patients died within a year, Baker covered up the results and argued that respected treatments like radiology were of little use. Instead, the homeopathic formula he advertised were the salvation for those suffering from cancer. A year later, he had acquired the patent to Dr. Ozias’ “cure” and opened the Baker Institute to serve as the headquarters for his operation. Using his radio station, Baker advertised the tonic water throughout Iowa. He attracted scores of patients and amassed a personal fortune worth several hundred thousand dollars.

    Eventually, Norman G. Baker attracted the unwanted fury of Morris Fishbein and the American Medical Association. Fishbein published a thorough attack on Baker’s unfounded medical expertise in the Journal of the American Medical Association, accusing the radio host of fraud and deception. Baker was livid and launched his own diatribe in retribution. He specifically filed a defamation lawsuit against the American Medical Association, hoping that it would cease its assault. He even conducted an open-air surgery in front of a large crowd, where he pretended to use his tonic to heal a man with an inoperable brain tumor. Nevertheless, Baker’s reputation took a severe beating, especially as an ever increasingly number of patients testified to the ineffectiveness of his techniques. He lost his lawsuit against the American Medical Association and state officials began investigating his clinic. Baker finally snapped when the State of Iowa issued a warrant for his arrest for practicing medicine without a license. As such, subsequently fled to Mexico, where he attempted to construct his own 100,000 watt radio free from the jurisdiction of the Federal Radio Commission.

    Norman S. Baker remained south of the border until 1937, when he returned to Muscatine. Spending a single day in jail, he tried to pull his life back together. But he had become a social pariah. Looking for new opportunities elsewhere in the United States, Baker relocated to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. He soon discovered that the beautiful Crescent Hotel was for sale, which he said looked like a “Castle in the Air.” Baker then managed to acquire enough capital to buy the building, turning into another medical facility that he called the “Baker’s Cancer Curing Hospital.” Treating people with the same tonic water that he had originally used in Iowa, Baker was back to fleecing his patients out of their life savings. According to the U.S. Postal Inspector, he received an annual income of $500,000! All the while, his patients routinely died in the hospital while under his care. But federal authorities soon learned of Baker’s operation and they began to quietly undermine its operations. Investigators were finally able to make an arrest after nearly a decade, when Baker attempted to mail several advertisements for his services. Alleging that he used the mail to swindle consumers, Baker was tried before a federal jury on seven counts of fraud. The jurors found Baker guilty and sentenced him to four years at Fort Leavenworth Federal Prison. Meanwhile, the hospital shuttered its doors and resumed its prior identity as a vacation retreat. Baker served his sentence in full, despite several efforts to overturn the conviction. He retired to Florida upon his release in 1944, and died impoverished a decade later.

  • Famous Historic Guests +

    Willie Nelson, country music star known for such records as Red Headed Stranger and Honeysuckle Rose.

    Natachee Scott Momaday, renowned author, artist and civil rights activist.

    James G. Blaine, former Speaker of the House of Representative, U.S. Senator of Maine, and Secretary of State.

    William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson and participant in the Scopes Trial.

    Claude A. Fuller, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and native of Eureka Springs.

    Dale Bumpers, 38th Governor of Arkansas and former U.S. Senator of Arkansas

    Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States (1993 – 2001)

  • Film, TV and Media Connections +

    Ghost Hunters: The Crescent Hotel & Dr. Ellis (2005)

    Paranormal Witness: The Hotel (2016)

    Ghost Adventures: The Crescent Hotel (2019)

  • Women in History +

    Natachee Scott Momaday: Among the most prolific students to graduate from the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women was Natachee Scott Momaday, a lifelong artist and writer who championed Native American rights throughout the United States. Historians today credit Momaday’s work with advancing the acceptance of Native America culture throughout Euro-American society. Momaday was born as Natachee Scott to a white father and Cherokee mother in 1913. After receiving an education from the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women, she married a Kiowa artist named Al Momaday at the height of the Great Depression. The two journeyed to the Navajo Reservation in the southwestern United States, where they taught Indian children on behalf of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They remained among the Navajo for close to a decade before taking over the Jemez Pueblo Day School in New Mexico. The only two teachers onsite, they reveled in teaching the local Native American children through art and literature. Yet, Natachee Scott Momaday had grown concerned that her pupils were learning of their culture through texts exclusively created from the perspective of Euro-American society. As such, Momaday modified her lesson plans that focused on “child-experience based” education that would reinforce a sense of pride as a Native American.

    From an early age, Momaday had taken a great interest in writing short stories and novels for children. She continued to pursue the practice throughout her life, even as she became a full-fledged educator. As Momaday worked at the Jemez Pueblo Day School, she started to use her writing career as a way to enhance her own unique style of teaching. Perhaps the greatest literary work that she ever produced was a story called the Owl in the Cedar Tree, which she published in 1956. The book illustrated the story of a Navajo boy torn between observing the traditional culture of his people and the rising, modern influences of the 20th century. Momaday strove to highlight her opinion that young Native American children should both preserve their heritage, while also accept the changes that influenced their society. Yet, Owl in the Cedar Tree also functioned as a window for white children—an adults—to understand the intricacies of native life. Her novel has since become a fundamental tool used by 3rd and 4th grade social study teachers in both public and private schools across the country. Eventually, Momaday resigned from her post at the Jemez Pueblo School in 1971 in order to devote more time to her writing. Then, four years later, the University of New Mexico bestowed upon her the honorary degree of Doctor of Human Letters. In 1993, Natachee Scott Momaday passed away at the age of 83.

Image of Historian Stanley Turkel, Historic Hotels of America Image of Stanley Turkel's Book Built To Last: 100 Year Old Hotels East of the Mississippi, Historic Hotels of America.

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Nobody Asked Me, But…

Hotel History: 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa (1886), Eureka Springs, Arkansas

By Stanley Turkel, CHMS

The history of the 1886 Crescent Hotel is linked to the presence of the waters of more than 60 springs in the Eureka Springs area. For centuries, native American tribes took advantage of the healing powers of the natural spring water for bathing, therapy and drinking. In the late 19th century, thousands of tourists visited Eureka Springs and spurred midwest railroad owners to build a luxury hotel. The new Crescent Hotel was owned by the Eureka Springs Improvement Company headed by Powell Clayton who served as Governor of Arkansas, United States Senator and U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.

The Eureka Springs Times Echo reported on May 20, 1886:

  • “It was two years ago that Powell Clayton and his associates chose the site of the new Crescent Hotel… twenty seven acres at the north end of West mountain, a majestic location overlooking the valley. The commissioning of Isaac Taylor as architect was announced and construction commenced."

  • "Seldom has such a formidable construction undertaking been accomplished with such efficiency. Special wagons were constructed to transport the huge pieces of magnesium limestone from the quarry site on the White River near Beaver. Due to the density of this special stone, and the precision necessary in cutting and fitting, a group of specialist from Ireland was brought here to assist and advise in construction."

  • "Mr. O’Shawnessey, the spokesman and leader of the imported group, was interviewed by this reporter before his return to Ireland. We recall that “Throughout the many years of his stoneworking, he has never encountered a stone with such density and quality as the White River Limestone.” He predicts it will become a popular building stone in the future and further stated that because of its unique characteristics, would withstand the destructive forces of time and retain its original beauty for many years to come."

  • "The magnificent structure was then furnished in the most exquisite manner. It is lighted with Edison lamps, furnished with electric bells, heated with steam and open grates, has a hydraulic elevator, and is truly a showplace of today’s conveniences.”

When the Crescent Hotel opened on May 20, 1886, the local newspaper called it “America’s most luxurious resort hotel.” Ladies in long skirts, hats and veils and gentlemen in top hats danced to the strains of a live orchestra. The Crystal Dining Room served such delectable treats as Crab Lorenzo, a dish still on the menu today. One of the most prominent guests at the opening was James G. Blaine, former U.S. Congressman, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State and a candidate for president in 1884, who lost a close race to Grover Cleveland. Other attendees included U.S. federal judges, State Supreme Court justices and many high-ranking military men.

  • “A stable with a hundred sleek-coated horses was provided for the guests’ riding pleasure on early morning canters over the trails. Often as many as 75 riders could be seen making their way along some remote mountain trail – the ladies in their long skirts, hats and veils, mounted fashionably on sidesaddles while the gentlemen were gallantly astride mounts with English saddles.”
  • “Visitors could enjoy tea dances during the afternoon and dance parties each evening with music provided with an in-house orchestra maintained by the hotel. Other forms of recreating available to the guest included picnics, hiking, streetcar rides, and the ever-popular Tallyho rides to Sanitarium Lake or some other attraction locale. The Tally Ho was a large open coach drawn by teams of four, six or eight horses.”

The hotel was purchased by the Frisco Railroad in 1905 to build train ridership from the Chicago and St. Louis areas. In 1908, due to a decline in hotel occupancy, the hotel was occupied by the Crescent College & Conservatory for Young Women. The college closed in 1934 because of the tough economic conditions brought on by the Great Depression.

In 1937, the hotel was purchased by Dr. Norman Baker, a flamboyant quack who made extravagant medical claims and boasted that he could cure cancer with injections of a mixture of glycerine, alcohol and tea brewed from watermelon seeds and clover leaves. The hotel became the Baker Cancer Hospital and treated many sick and desperate people. After the Charlstan Baker was arrested and sentenced to four years in Leavenworth Federal Prison, the hotel was sold and renovated by Chicago businessmen in 1946.

For the next fifty years, the Crescent Hotel was owned by numerous investors and operated as a vacation resort and a wedding and honeymoon destination until 1997 when it was purchased by Marty and Elise Roenigk. They are antique lovers and historic preservationists from Connecticut who also bought another historic hotel, the 1905 Basin Park Hotel and recently added War Eagle Mill, a working, turn-of-the-century grist mill with shop and restaurant. The Roenigks’ dedication has seen the addition of the New Moon Spa, Dr. Baker’s Bistro & Sky Bar, the East Lawn Wedding Venue, the Conservatory, Cottages at Crescent Park, Annex Suites, the development of the surrounding gardens plus the near total renovation of all guestrooms. In 2011, the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa celebrated its 125th anniversary.


About Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Stanley Turkel is a recognized consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases and providing asset management an and hotel franchising consultation. Prior to forming his hotel consulting firm, Turkel was the Product Line Manager for worldwide Hotel/Motel Operations at the International Telephone & Telegraph Co. overseeing the Sheraton Corporation of America. Before joining IT&T, he was the Resident Manager of the Americana Hotel (1842 Rooms), General Manager of the Drake Hotel (680 Rooms) and General Manager of the Summit Hotel (762 Rooms), all in New York City. He serves as a Friend of the Tisch Center and lectures at the NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. He served for eleven years as Chairman of the Board of the Trustees of the City Club of New York and is now the Honorary Chairman.

Stanley Turkel is one of the most widely-published authors in the hospitality field. More than 275 articles on various hotel subjects have been posted in hotel magazines and on the Hotel-Online, Blue MauMau, Hotel News Resource and eTurboNews websites. Two of his hotel books have been promoted, distributed and sold by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry and Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi). A third hotel book (Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York) was called "passionate and informative" by the New York Times. Executive Vice President of Historic Hotels of America, Lawrence Horwitz, has even praised one book, Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry:

  • “If you have ever been in a hotel, as a guest, attended a conference, enjoyed a romantic dinner, celebrated a special occasion, or worked as a hotelier in the front or back of the house, Great American Hoteliers, Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry is a must read book. This book is recommended for any business person, entrepreneur, student, or aspiring hotelier. This book is an excellent history book with insights into seventeen of the great innovators and visionaries of the hotel industry and their inspirational stories.”

Turkel was designated as the “2014 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America,” the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion, greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Works published by Stanley Turkel include:

Most of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse—(except Heroes of the American Reconstruction, which can be ordered from McFarland)—by visiting, or by clicking on the book’s title.