Home » Episodes » Episode 51 – North Karelia, Finland & Fayetteville, AR (He’s an Assmann)

For episode 51, Rachel tells a listener suggestion from Finland – the Tulilahti Campground Murders. Then, Emily heads to Fayetteville, AR to talk about the creepy history behind one of the World’s Most Haunted Hotels, the Crescent Hotel. Hopefully, you’re horrified.

Story 1 – The Tulilahti Murders

today we’re going back to July 18, 1959. Two friends, 23-year-old Riitta Aulikki Pakkanen and 21-year-old Eine (Eh-nay) Maria Nyyssönen decided they would head to North Karelia for a biking trip around that beautiful part of the country.

And these women were prepared. They had been training for this trip – they had these blue bikes that they rode around together A LOT to build up their endurance. And, since this is the 50s and no one had cell phones, Riitta borrowed her brother’s camera so the pair could document their adventures. Plus both Riitta and Eine (Eh-Nay) sewed their own bags that they would use to store all their things. Oh and they had matching straw Panama hats. This is so wholesome it hurts.

On Saturday, July 25, after a week of biking, Riitta and Eine were in Koli National Park. They stopped to write a postcard to their families.

It said, “Hi! We have conquered Koli and soon we plan to conquer Jyväskylä (Yih-vas-kil-a). Lovely trip, but it has to be said that the food made by Mum and the sauna heated by Dad and our own beds are missed. We will arrive in the middle or at the end of next week. Many greetings, Eine and Riitta.”

Eine wrote a separate postcard just to her mom, essentially saying that they were lakeside and it was gorgeous, and that she and Riitta were going to head towards Varkaus, another town, on the following Monday. They were going to head back home afterwards, intending to make it by Wednesday or Thursday, the 29th or 30th of July. Riitta was supposed to be back at work on August 3.

This was the last Riitta’s and Eine’s families would ever hear from them. 

They didn’t come home at the end of July, and Riitta did not show up for work on that Monday. On Tuesday, August 4th, Eine’s mother reported both women missing, and the investigation into their disappearance commenced.

Police quickly discovered that Eine and Riitta were not runaways – both women still lived at home with their parents and had happy home lives. At first, it was thought that maybe the pair drowned in the lake, however, their parents argued that Eine and Riitta were strong swimmers, so this theory was thrown out quickly.

Investigators tracked Eine and Riitta’s bike route through multiple campsites and villages. At some point, they took a steamship from Savonlinna to Joensuu (Yo-en-sue). After this, they cycled north to Koli, where they sent their final postcard, then cycled south to Polvijärvi (Paul-v-RV), where they stayed in a guesthouse. Then, they went to Liperi, and finally, they arrived at Tulilahti (Two-lee-Lottie) campground, located in Heinävesi (Hain-a-vessy). Heinävesi was en route to Varkaus, so Eine and Riitta were, in fact, headed there, as they noted in their postcard home.

The entire route was searched. Eine’s and Riitta’s families helped search, which is so heartbreaking to me. The Finnish army and air force joined in the search as well.

Finally, on August 21, which was almost a full month after Eine and Riitta had been last seen alive, an army soldier found the remains of the two women in a shallow grave. The grave had been dug into a bog. They were naked, with their clothing laid out over them, with pine and tree branches laid over them to hide their bodies. They were found just outside the Two-lee-Lottie campground.

Their bodies were transported to Savonlinna and autopsied, which reported that Eine was strangled and stabbed, with one of her stab wounds having punctured her lung. Her cause of death was blood loss. Riitta was hit in the head with a blunt object and then stabbed multiple times in the chest. Riitta’s cause of death was her head injury. Eine was killed while she was naked, however neither woman had signs of sexual assault.

Let’s rewind here for a hot second, shall we? We are going back to August 10, when a couple of young men named Heikki (Hey-key) and Keijo (Hey-yo) heard about Eine’s and Riitta’s disappearance. They contacted police, and told officers that they were the last people to see the women alive… except for their killer. They showed the police the place at Two-lee-Lottie campground where they knew Eine and Riitta had been camping.

So who were these mysterious men?

Let’s back up further to Monday, July 27. Eine and Riitta went inside a little shop in Hain-a-vessy for some snacks. They were going to continue on to Varkaus, but they were super tired, so instead, they decided to rest at Two-lee-Lottie campground. It was here that they met 21-year-old Hey-Key and 18-year-old Hey-yo. These two creeps had seen Eine and Riitta at the shops, so they borrowed Hey-yo’s dad’s boat so they could head to the campground’s jetty because they wanted to meet Eine and Riitta.

The women welcomed them in friendship, and allowed them to join them for a campfire. Eine and Riitta made cocoa and offered some to the boys, who declined. Hey-key and Hey-yo went to grab some bark. At some point, Hey-yo tried hitting on Eine, but she wasn’t into it, and he seemed to take it well.

Later on, the temperature dropped to 13 degrees Celsius, or about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The four youths huddled under a blanket and continued to spend time together. Hey-key made a couple small baskets from the bark they had collected, and the boys carved fake names into the baskets as a joke, as Eine and Riitta didn’t give Hey-key and Hey-yo their full names. In addition to their fancy fake names, they engraved, “A memento for Eine,” as well as the time, which was 11:15pm.

Then, Hey-yo took a picture of Eine and Riitta with Riitta’s camera. Hey-key and Hey-yo left at 11:30 that evening. They did come back 2 days later, on Wednesday, the 29th, but the campground had been cleared out. The boys were pleased with themselves, because it seemed like Eine and Riitta took the birch baskets along for the rest of their trip.

With statements from Hey-yo and Hey-key, police knew that they needed to focus on the campgrounds, which eventually led to the discovery of their bodies. They also found the handmade saddlebags the women had brought on their trip. These had clearly been ransacked, as the remaining spending money the women had was gone. 

Police also found Eine’s and Riitta’s tent, which was in disrepair. The base of the tent had clearly been ripped off and was missing. The rest of the tent had been slashed with a knife. They also recovered an iron shovel, which had been stolen from a local farm, and hidden under some moss. They found Riitta’s watch, but never recovered her brother’s camera or the film. And, in what I find to be a really sad detail, the birch bark baskets were found buried in the beach by the campsite.

On September 4, the blue bicycles were fished out of Lake Kermajärvi. Five local people were arrested and questioned, but ultimately released. Of course, Hey-yo and Hey-key were questioned as well. They told police about a creepy guy on a mo-ped they saw turning into the campground on July 27 and Hey-key was all, oh yeah, I thought at the time the guy might be stalking Eine and Riitta.

I hope this was just hindsight because it pissed me off.

Another witness also confirmed seeing “the mo-ped man” driving toward the campground. Police started to focus their investigation on this mysterious figure, and asked anyone who had seen this man to come forward. He was described as being 30-40 years old, with dark hair. He was wearing a brown leather jacket and riding a blue mo-ped.

On November 6, Police arrested 35-year-old Erik Runar Holmström in the western part of the country. He had a long rap sheet, primarily for committing multiple burglaries. He had been previously imprisoned. And, the primary source I used for this, which is an article from The History of Yesterday made sure to point out that he was short, under 1.7m or 5’5 and that his brown hair was thinning. It’s savage and I’m here for it.

So, Erik was arrested for the burglaries – not originally for the murders of Eine and Riitta. However, while arresting him, police found on his person: a gun, a knife (which matched the type that was used to cut the branches that were found covering up Eine and Riitta, two pairs of ladies underwear, a page from a nursing magazine – which, I maybe should have covered earlier, but Eine was a nursing student – and a handbook for a mo-ped. 

Erik Holmström not only fit the physical description of mo-ped man, but he did own a blue mo-ped that summer… though it was nowhere to be found now. So. Weird. 

He was charged with robbery and two counts of murder. But of course, he denied it, and denied even being around the Two-lee-Lottie campground or even in the eastern part of Finland. Police transported him to Hain-a-vessy to see if he could be identified by witnesses who had seen Mo-ped man. And, this isn’t my favorite part of the police work – instead of putting Erik Holmström in a lineup, he was presented to witnesses by himself. Not great from a court perspective, but let’s see what happens.

Police ended up transporting Erik Holmström back to western Finland, where he was being held, and in a super bold move, he asked the cops whether or not they had enough evidence to prove that he was in fact mo-ped man. One of the officers told him they did, and Erik was all, okay fine. I was in Hain-a-vessy and I did follow Eine and Riitta to Two-Lee-Lotti. And I saw these two punks trying to hug and kiss those women but don’t you worry, my mo-ped and me left at midnight and headed to Varkaus.

Apparently, the fact that Hey-yo and Hey-key were with Eine and Riitta was known only to police.

But, by the time they made it back to his holding cell and Erik was officially questioned, he retracted his statement. He was cool with being found creepy, but he didn’t want to be charged with murder. And like I said before, he did have a history of burglaries, and, back in 1948, he had attacked a woman during a robbery and had done 4 years of hard labor.

Erik Holmström’s trial started on June 8, 1960. It was in an old schoolhouse in Hain-a-vessy and it was a public trial, so you know Morbid Curious were there for it. He walked in wearing straight-up old-school shackles, which must have been quite a spectacle. 

Erik continued to deny murdering Eine and Riitta. He stated, “Their spirit does not weigh on my conscience.” Of course, the prosecution argued that Erik was the creepy mo-ped man, and they told the court all about the confession in the car. The prosecution argued that Erik only retracted his confession due to not wanting to be found guilty, not because he was truly innocent. Defense argued that Eine and Riitta were probably killed by 2 people. They’re all, look at this tiny man. He’s the same height and weight as these athletic young women. No way could he have done it! And, there was only circumstantial evidence. There were no witnesses and no forensic evidence.

During the trial, in July, Eine’s and Riitta’s cute little Panama hats were found between Hain-a-vessy and Varkaus, but the defense and the prosecution disagreed about what significance that would have on the trial. The prosecution argued that Erik disposed of the hats on his way to Varkaus, but the defense argued that the hats still looked like they were in good condition, so the real killer must have put them there recently to make Erik look guilty. Also, it didn’t make sense that the hats hadn’t been found before then, as they were in plain sight.

It was a lonnnnnggggg trial. And it didn’t really end. After about 18 months, on May 8, 1961, Erik Holmström hanged himself in his cell in Vaasa prison. He was 37 years-old, and had been awaiting a psychiatric evaluation. He had had one prior attempt the previous year, leaving a note saying that being accused of something he was innocent of was too much.

The trial never reached a conclusion due to Erik Holmström’s death.

There were a couple of other suspects, including a German immigrant named Hans Assmann – hilarious name by the way. Some witnesses said that they had seen a couple men speaking German who purchased a map for the Two-lee-Lottie campground 2 days before the murders. Assmann’s ex-wife also said that she thought he had been in the area around the time of the murders. But Hans Assmann died in 1998.

There was also Teuvo (Tilvo) K., a 23-year-old local man who was one of the original 5 people arrested in September of 1959. He was released without charge, however, police did find blood on his clothing. He claimed that the blood was from a hand injury he sustained while using a saw doing some renovation work, and the blood type was the same as his own. They couldn’t do any further tests, because it was the 50s.

Hey-yo and Hey-key were ruled out as suspects, even though some people think it might have been a duo who murdered Eine and Riitta, because police couldn’t find anything suspicious about the youthful men. And honestly, I agree. Other than the fact that they also followed them from town, which was probably much more socially acceptable back then, it seems like just a couple of kids trying to get some.

Their families held a joint funeral for Eine and Riitta – there were 8,000 people there. Eine’s parents laid to rest their only child – her coffin was carried by her fellow nursing students. Riitta was the third youngest of 12 siblings, and her parents had tragically already buried 4 of their other children.

It’s now been 62 years since these young women were murdered, and you know what? It’s still unsolved. There is a wooden cross to commemorate where Eine’s and Riitta’s bodies were found at the now-abandoned Tulilahti campground.

Story 2 – The Crescent Hotel & Norman Baker

e’re heading 30 minutes away from Fayetteville, to a quaint little town of 2,100 people called Eureka Springs. There’s really only one thing to do there and I will get into that a little later, but first I want to tell you a horrible story from 1937 and a man named Norman Baker who managed the Baker Hospital. And Norman has BIG news and he is shouting it from the rooftops. You see, Norman has apparently… cured cancer. This is of course news that should be shared, so Norman is sending colorful mailers and brochures out to everyone in the area asking them to come to the “Switzerland of America,” “Where Sick Folks Get Well.” What’s even more shocking is that Norman’s cure for cancer didn’t require surgery or radium or even X-rays.

There is one issue, of course. And that is the fact that Norman Baker is not a doctor. Norman Baker is a charlatan. That’s right, a conman. And like most con men, Norman is conventionally handsome. Sharp-featured and clear-eyed. He had a great head of distinguished gray hair and a strong jawline. Probably had a firm handshake, too.

So, as most conmen do, Norman sought out people to con and he decided his best bet was to con the weak, sick, desperate and hopeless. These people got his mailer and they flocked from everywhere… willing to pay cash for the treatments. I mean, who wouldn’t? This man was promising them LIFE. And not just that but it wouldn’t require surgery or radiation…? Just a little something he called Formula 5 and the power of positive thinking.

SO, if you are looking to someone to cure you of a terminal disease, perhaps you’d be keeping your eye out for signs that he was successful. Perhaps it would be encouraging to see that your doctor was driving a fancy car and had fancy suits… maybe that shows that he is so good at what he does that he’s made quite a good living at it? What do you think?

Well, even though it was 1937 – a year in one of the leanest decades of America’s history – Norman drives a hand-hammered, coach-built Cord automobile custom-painted in electric lavender. He wears dark chalk-stripe three-piece suits in winter, white suits and matching shoes in summer. Lilac shirts year-round. He rocks a diamond horseshoe broach and a pocket watch that’s super heavy. Essentially, he’s got it and he is flaunting it. And let’s be honest, he’s gotten all the money by grifting the sick and the hopeless.

So, does Norman’s con have ANY cancer curing properties at all? Well, “Formula 5” is alcohol, glycerol (most commonly used for constipation, improving hydration and performance in athletes), carbolic acid (which is a very poisonous chemical substance made from tar and commonly used to make plastics), ground watermelon seeds, corn silk and clover leaves. It is administered by injection at the site of the cancer —up to seven times a day.

It does nothing.

Unfortunately, Baker continued on his rampage of horrible Dr. Death-like activities for more than two years. Finally, on the day Germany invaded Poland, September 1, 1939, Norman Baker was arrested… for mail fraud. That’s how they finally nabbed him: the stupid brochures he was sending out.

For this reason, the asshole was convicted to serve a measly four-year sentence in Leavenworth prison even after an investigation into his revealed that over the years Baker had defrauded cancer patients out of approximately $4,000,000 which would be about $75 million today). And, although no one actually died from his Formula 5 “cure,” it’s highly likely that his treatments sped up the death of those suffering from cancer because they weren’t receiving actually effective forms of treatment.

So, Norman served his time and then retired in Florida (old white man privilege). He died in 1958 of cirrhosis… and cancer. Which is some beautiful irony.

Now that we all HATE Norman Baker, you might be wondering… is that it? Is that your whole story? Of course not. We all know I can’t tell a story in less than 45 minutes. No, you see the Baker Hospital is a location that obviously has seen some shit. But, sadly, the building saw more shit than just the years of horrible brought on by Mr. Baker. In fact, it went by a different name before and after it served as a hospital.

That name was… the Crescent Hotel. Now I know there are at least two people listening that are like YESSSS the Crescent Hotel because we had TWO listeners request this story. My beloved friend Brit AND awesome listener Kaylee who forced her husband to listen to us on a 22 hour road trip 😊 so, thank you both for the recommendation. I feel weird having not thanked you until mid-way through this story, but I started my story mid-way through the life of the hotel, so I guess it’s apropos.

So, let’s go back in time to when the hotel was built. It was the late was 1880s and it was built by the Eureka Springs Improvement Company and the Frisco Railroad. It was designed by Isaac L. Taylor, a well-known Missouri architect who had designed a number of famous buildings in St. Louis.  This. Building. Is. GRAND. It’s a 78-room resort hotel built Twenty-seven acres at the north end of West Mountain was chosen for its majestic location overlooking the valley.

Now, you may wonder, why did they choose to build a massive, resort in the Ozarks. I mean, no offense to Arkansas, but it isn’t what I think of when I think of high society. But, there’s a reason why they chose Eureka Springs for this hotel – and frankly, a reason Norman chose this location as well. You see, back then, Eureka Springs was well known for having “healing waters”. So, people from near and far were swarming to the area in hopes of curing their ailments and easing their pains. So, developers were like… let’s go ahead and take advantage of this moment!

Interestingly, the construction of the resort was quite elaborate. Stonemasons were brought in all the way from Ireland to begin the construction in 1884. They were using magnesium limestone to build the hotel and that was a very dense and heavy piece of stone. So, they had to make special wagons to move the stone. Once they actually got the slabs to the site, the masons built 18-inch walls, multiple towers, balconies, and a massive fireplace in the lobby.

Construction actually continued for two years and of course, they brought in more and more workers to string electric, add plumbing, insert a steam heating system and an elevator, do extensive landscaping, and decorate the living hell out of that hotel so it had so many amenities and beautiful features that it rivaled the Taj Mahal.

In the end, the hotel cost $294,000 to build, which was extremely extravagant for 1886, but interestingly that would only be about $8.5 in 2021, which seems low for a resort. In fact, I looked up a few costs for the hotels and resorts of today and found out that the national average range is $13,000,000 to $32,000,000, with most people spending around $22,100,000​ on a 3-star hotel with 100 rooms. At the low end of the spectrum, it is possible to build a 2-story motel for $7,500,000, while at the high end, you can spend more than $60,000,000 on a luxury 5-star hotel. 

So, if you’re wondering why I am telling you about a hotel and how it is horrible beyond the Norman Baker terror… hint hint, this is an extension of Spooky Season. Because the Crescent Hotel has seen some SHIT and is haunted AF. And that haunting started from the very beginning.

From the very first moment that the hotel was being built it seemed that things went awry. First, one of the Irish stone masons was working on the roof and he lost his footing and plunged to his death in what is now room 218. To this day, apparently this room is one of the most spiritually active rooms in the hotel. In fact, throughout the history of the Victorian hotel, employees have referred to this red-haired Irish stonemason entity as “Michael” – and they refer to him as a poltergeist.

FYI – I was curious what the difference was between a poltergeist and a ghost and a demon and so I looked it up:

Ghosts are known to simply be the spirits of people who have passed away who make themselves seen by the living. They tend to only make themselves known by sighting, but are also said to be able to speak, change the temperature of a room, or bring a certain odor with their presence. “Ghosts are almost exclusively dead humans who passed across to the afterlife due to unresolved issues or a violent death.”

The word poltergeist translates to “noisy ghost,” which refers to its apparent ability to make noise, throw around objects, and otherwise disrupt our physical environment — and us. They’re said to be able to literally bite, pinch, and otherwise attack or harass their human victims, as well as move, throw, and even break objects. Unlike ghosts, poltergeists are said to feed directly off of the emotional state of a particular person rather than being linked with a place.

Demons are defined as “an evil spirit or devil, especially one thought to possess a person or act as a tormentor in hell.” They’re widely considered to be insidious and malevolent in nature, and have been referenced in countless types of folklore, religions, and cultures throughout history. In religious terms, they’re often considered to be fallen angels, or other “lower gods” who wield some sort of supernatural power. “A demon isn’t out for any resolution of an issue but rather pure malicious evil, as it feeds off the emotional energy of fear and anger.”

Alrighty, back to the story of Michael the poltergeist. Michael is evidently a mischievous spirit who likes to play tricks with the lights, the doors, and television, as well as often being heard pounding loudly on the walls. Others have witnessed hands coming out of the bathroom mirror and heard cries of what sounded like a man falling in the ceiling. Yet other guests have been shaken during the night, and on one occasion a patron ran screaming from the room, professing to have seen blood splattered all over its walls.

Anywho, once the building was complete it opened on May 20, 1886. The local Eureka Springs Times Echo called it “America’s most luxurious resort hotel” and notables from across the country attended its grand opening. They had a gala ball, complete with a full orchestra and banquet dinner for 400 people. Sounds like MY kind of event. I love a good gala!

Sounds like quite the opulent little affair and location, doesn’t it? And there are loads of spirits lurking the halls of the hotel today from its first 20-30 years of existence. Here are a few of the things guests report seeing that seem to harken back to this time frame of the hotel’s existence:

  • In the lobby, a gentleman dressed in formal Victorian clothing, complete with top hat, has often been spotted at the bottom of the stairway and sitting at the bar. Described as distinguished-looking with a mustache and beard, many have claimed to entice him into conversation. However, he just sits quietly and never responds, before he suddenly disappears.
  • The hotel’s Crystal Dining Room, is another place in the hotel that is said to contain frequent paranormal activities. Here, other Victorian dressed apparitions have often been encountered.   Many have seen groups of 1890’s dancers, in full-dress attire, whirling around the room in the wee hours of the morning. Other reports tell of a 19th-century gentleman who has been seen sitting at a table near the windows. When approached, he says, “I saw the most beautiful woman here last night and I am waiting for her to return.”
  • A former waitress reported that she spied the vision of a Victorian bride and groom in the dining room’s huge mirror. The groom allegedly made eye contact with her before the couple faded away.
  • The Victorian spirits that linger in the dining room are said to be very playful, and on one occasion during the Christmas season, the Christmas tree and all its packages were found mysteriously moved to the other side of the room. Additionally, all the chairs had been moved to circle or face the transported tree. On another occasion, staff arrived in the morning to find the dining room in perfect order, with the exception of all of the menus scattered about the room.
  • In the dining room’s kitchen. the apparition of a small boy has been seen skipping around and sometimes pots and pans are said to come flying of their hooks of their own accord.
  • Other apparitions have been sighted in Room 202 and Room 424, as well as a ghostly waiter carrying a tray of butter in the hallways.

Unfortunately, after the turn of the century, people began to realize that the “healing waters” of Eureka Springs… yeah… they didn’t have the curative powers that they claimed. So, little by little, people stopped coming to visit.

So, the owners tried to repurpose the huge building and for a few years – from 1908 – 1924 – it became a college and conservatory for young women during the school year and then maintained its status as a tourist destination in the summer. The boarding school was advertised as… “Crescent College and Conservatory for Women. On top of the Ozarks. Famous for healthfulness and beauty of location. $300,000 fireproof building. Rooms with private bath. Elevator. Accredited Junior College. General courses; art, music, expression, domestic science.”

One often reported spirit from that time frame is a young woman. According to the tale, the young girl either jumped from or was pushed from a balcony to her death. Today, guests report hearing her scream as she falls.

There wasn’t much time for women to die at the college during that time because, after operating for 16 years, the school just wasn’t making enough money so they closed the Women’s College and the building sat abandoned for about six years. It briefly reopened as a junior college from 1930 to 1934 and then good ole Norman moved in after that.

From the days when the old hotel served as Baker’s Cancer Hospital, the lingering spirit of a nurse, dressed all in white, is often seen pushing a gurney on the third floor. She is only spotted after 11:00 p.m., the time which they used to move the deceased out the cancer hospital, the ghostly spirit vanishes when she reaches the end of the hallway. Others who have not seen the apparition have reported the sounds of squeaks and rattles that sound like a gurney rolling down the hallway.

Here’s something pretty spooky… even today the hotel still houses Norman’s old autopsy table and walk-in freezer. These things are on the third floor, where the morgue was in the hospital and now is near the laundry area, where a hotel maintenance man once witnessed all of the washers and dryers inexplicably turning on by themselves in the middle of the night.

Other creepy things form the hospital time frame… apparently the apparition of the “Doctor” himself has also been seen in the old Recreation Room in the basement and at the foot of the first-floor stairway. He’s recognizable because he’s always dressed in a purple shirt and white linen suit, and looking somewhat confused – probably because he was hoping to go back to his retirement community in Florida after he died, not back to the hellish hospital that he used to swindle thousands of people. Sucka!

One final remnant of these old “hospital” days is a ghostly figure who calls herself “Theodora.” Most often seen by housekeepers in Room 419, Theodora courteously introduces herself as a cancer patient, before quickly vanishing.

Ok – back to the history of the hotel. As we know, Norman’s tenure in the building ended when he went to prison in 1939 and so once again the building was empty from 1940 to 1946. THEN! in 1946, the hotel was purchased by four Chicago businessmen who began to restore the old hotel to its former elegance. It actually started to thrive and did pretty well until 1967 when a god damn fire swept through the fourth floor of the south wing and destroyed it. Basically, this place is unlucky AF!

Over the next several years, the hotel passed through several hands as repairs and more restorations were made, but it wasn’t until 1997 when the historic inn was purchased by Marty and Elise Roenigk. In May 1997, the couple announced, “In five Years, we pledge to have this ‘Grand Lady of The Ozarks’ back to where she was 100 years ago.”  They rebuilt the spas. They added a new 6,500 square foot “New Moon Spa” which included Vichy showers, a hydrotherapy tub, sauna, massage and therapy tables, tanning beds, and exercise equipment.

The next major project was to restore the hotel’s skyline which had been destroyed in the 1967 fire. Costing well over a million dollars, the 3,500 square foot penthouse, original center observation tower, and the 200-pound, 24-foot-tall Crescent Moon weathervane were restored.

In the meantime, restorations of the guest rooms, lounges, electrical and plumbing, and landscaping were also going on. On September 6, 2002, The Roenigk’s bold announcement became a reality. After 5 million dollars in renovations, the grand hotel had been fully restored to its original stately glory.

Of course, before they could OPEN, the did one important thing… they hired two certified mediums, Ken Fugate and Carroll Heath, both of San Francisco CA natives, to “read” the building. One of their craziest findings or claims was that they had found a portal to the other side for those who are on the same “frequency” – and it was right about where the morgue used to be.

And today, the Crescent Hotel is one of the most visited hotels in the South. Partially because of the fact that the Roenigks did a great job of restoring the place… and also because it is said to be one of the most haunted hotels in the world. Staff and guests alike tell stories of a number of ghosts that are still said to inhabit the old hotel. And there is a nightly ghost tour that takes place, but be warned… there is a strange phenomenon where multiple guests have grown faint, a few even passing out briefly, at the same tour stop with no reasonable explanation. 

Whether you visit the historic Crescent Hotel to get a peek at one of its many spirits, or simply want to experience its long history and luxurious accommodations, you will certainly not be disappointed.


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