|Vernon and Irene Castle|
This five-story mountaintop spa resort each year seems to discover yet another one of those famous "guests" by name. This year it was dancing legend of the early to mid twentieth century, Irene Castle.
"We were thrilled to find out that Ms. Castle still visits the hotel as she did during her final years here as a resident of Eureka Springs (AR)," stated Bill Ott, marketing director of this Historic Hotel of America, "and it was only as we linked casual references of a young girl describing a paranormal encounter were we able to piece together that her encounter was with someone who once frequented our property."
Irene Castle and husband Vernon were the best-known ballroom dancers of the early twentieth century. They operated ballroom dancing clubs and would travel the country charging as much as a thousand dollars an hour for lessons. She appeared in a Broadway show and several movies. Her popularization of social dancing with her husband was portrayed in a movie starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire entitled "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle."
"It was after the death of her fourth husband when Irene moved to Eureka Springs in 1959 to be near her son from her third marriage," Ott explained. "She bought a house on a small parcel of land just blocks from the Crescent, a place she called Destiny Farm. She died in 1969 while living here in Eureka."
Ott said that locals have told him that it was her love of the social life in her latter years that brought her to the Crescent on numerous occasions. It is said of Irene that even in her sixties that she was still "trim, lovely and fashionable lady with nothing to do but embrace the social scene of Eureka Springs" for whom the Crescent was the epicenter.
"It was a family that vacations annually at the Crescent who were part of the encounter where links to Irene came to the fore," Ott said. "This story, which was recounted on a recent episode of the Biography's Channel My Ghost Story, takes place when the mother was giving her daughter a bath in their room and the young girl began talking as if she was having a conversation with someone.
"The young girl said there was a princess standing right behind her mother but the mother saw no one. The mother thought it was unusual because her daughter was using such words as pirouette, ballerina, tango, princess, castle and bob.
"It wasn't until the girl's father read about Irene Castle's connection to the Crescent on our hotel blog was he able to the puzzle pieces of that encounter together. He writes, 'the strange words my daughter had said that we had made note of began to make sense. The princess was someone in a costume. That princess did not live in a castle; she was Castle. Bob was a hairstyle popularized by Ms. Castle. Those dancing terms were words commonly used by a professional dancer. It was clear, my daughter had been talking to Irene Castle.'"
Ms. Castle is only one of many paranormal guests who have been named at the Crescent. "Two of the better-known nom de spirits are Michael, the Irish stonemason who fell to his death during construction of the hotel in the footprint of Room 218; and Theodora, the cancer patient who fumbles for her key outside Room 419," Ott noted.
Whether named or nameless the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa has become a haven for those wanting to encounter the shadow, the whisper, the tingling touch of someone, something who stealthily walks the halls of the hotel proper. Nightly ghost tours have been selling out for years. In fact, hotel management now encourages guests and visitors to purchase ghost tour tickets in advance to ensure their opportunity to walk with these Ozark specters on the night they desire.
"October sees the interest grow exponentially in the paranormal aspect of our hotel," Ott concluded, "however the frenzied interest is year 'round. It has escalated so much that later this fall we will be introducing 'Midnight In The Morgue: A Portrait of Norman Baker'. This exciting new, multi-media theatrical presentation will give our guests and visitors a chance to 'meet the man' who purchased the Crescent and operated the hotel in the late '30s as a cancer curing hospital."