Norman Baker and the Crescent Hotel
One such faker was Norman Baker, who purchased the Crescent Hotel in 1937, at a time when the historic landmark had faded and was in disrepair and the city fathers looked to Baker to help revitalize the town. Baker had already earned a reputation as a medical quack and a political demagogue even before he landed in Eureka Springs. Despite having no medical training himself, he had started a hospital in his home state of Iowa that offered alternative cures for cancer and also started a radio station that he used to hawk his phony cancer cures and to promote a sort of right-wing populism that fostered distrust in government, science, education, and any religious tradition other than Protestant.
In Eureka Springs, Baker painted the Crescent in flamboyant colors, turned it into a hospital, and once again began hawking his dubious cancer cures. He was soon charged with mail fraud for sending literature through the mail promoting his unconventional cures, was convicted, and spent over three years from 1941 to 1944 in a Federal penitentiary at Leavenworth. He later returned to Iowa, where he tried unsuccessfully to reopen his medical facility there. He lived the last several years of his life aboard a yacht off the coast of Florida. He died in 1958, and his body was returned to Iowa for burial.