For Decades Cats provide a “Purr-fect” Touch to The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa
Recorded history of 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa shows that a feline has been one of the mainstays of their gift of hospitality to those who visit this Historic Hotel of America. That history continues.
There may have been many other cats that walked the halls of this mountaintop spa resort since its grand opening on May 1, 1886, but it wasn’t until 1973 when hotel records show an orange tabby, named Morris, walked into the lobby and stayed… for 21 years. This cat became such a fixture of the Crescent that he was referred to as “the general manager.”
“This cat became the cat of not only the hotel, but also the community,” a local resident recounts. “During those years, no visit to the Crescent would be complete without a Morris sighting, or better yet, a chance to pet this hospitality icon. And since the Crescent was -and continues to be- the center for so much community activity, their cat became our cat. We loved it when we would see him enter and exit through his specially constructed kitty door. The portal was flanked on both interior and exterior sides by carpeted steps to allow ease of coming and going.”
To further prove the heart-felt sentiments of local citizens toward this feline, when Morris died, more than 300 people attended his farewell ceremony held at the hotel. His wake was followed by his interment on the hotel property.
“Today, visitors can step outside to our East Lawn area and see Morris’ headstone. His photo and remembrance poem grace our lobby,” explained Jack Moyer, general manager of the Crescent. Read More…
That poem reads:
“In memory of Morris, the resident cat at The Crescent Hotel~
He filled his position exceedingly well.
The General Manager title he wore,
Was printed right there on his own office door.
He acted as greeter and sometimes as guide.
Whatever his duties, he did them with pride.
He chose his own hours and set his own pace,
The guests were impressed with his manners and grace.
Upstairs and down he kept everything nice.
They might have had ghosts, but they never had mice.”
“Our guests seem to appreciate our love of animals even after their passing. Some will stop in simply to see Morris’ final resting place,” Moyer added.
Marty and Elise Roenigk, upon purchasing the hotel in 1997, wanted to ensure that the hotel’s pet-friendly legacy was carried forth. Therefore, early in their proprietorship, a brown Siamese-mix feral cat named Tiddles, was welcomed into the hotel and stayed for a couple of years touching the hearts of thousands of hotel guests.
Upon Tiddles’ passing, Marty Roenigk purchased a white cat that proved not as social as his predecessors. Spook, as some called him, was adopted finding another home. For, as Marty said, “Some cats are not designed for the lodging industry.”
Feral cats seem to work best at “Arkansas’ Symbol of Hospitality”. Two such critters that were born, nursed and then abandoned in the warm boiler room of the hotel in 2003 became the next hotel cats. Their names: Frisco and Shadow. These two female kitties played their parts very well.
Frisco was a sweet cat that loved to sleep with guests in their room, which often surprised members of the housekeeping staff if the nightly tenant failed to shoo the cat out into the hallway before checking out. It could have been the six toes on each of her front paws that caused her to appear to be a uniquely endowed “ghost chaser”. Frisco left the hotel in 2009.
Shadow, who was quite shy, put the hotel in the good paws of Frisco in 2007 when she departed the hotel for quieter, less trafficked environs. And almost in the same swing of the cat door as Shadow exited, entered another feral feline, Rufus.
Rufus loved to be photographed, although no copies of his image can be found. He had a crooked tale and loved wedding receptions. All too often, to the chagrin of wedding guests, he would be “escorted out” by hotel banquet staff. He left the hotel on the heels of Frisco in 2009.
That same year during Halloween week, the duo of Casper and Jasper strolled into “The Grand Ol’ Lady of The Ozarks”. Casper, that loved to lounge in the lobby looking for rays of the sun and follow leashed canines throughout the lobby, decided to leave the hotel after a couple of years in residence leaving the purring responsibilities to Jasper, a role he holds even to this day.
It has been said by many that Jasper is a bit of a scoundrel. This big, black, long-haired cat with white paws and chest, loves to hide under baggage carts, swat at passing shoelaces, but always staying out of sight. He, like his predecessor Rufus, is a big wedding fan. Anonymous staffers have said he has a penchant for white tablecloths, punch bowls and wedding cakes, although no photographic proof exists for those allegations. One proven fact is that Jasper loves to curl up in the large lobby flowerpots, an action that always garners several, “Aw, honey, look… isn’t he cute!” guest comments.
One last annotation for cat lovers is that there is a good chance Crescent visitors of today can still meet the hotel’s feline patriarch, Morris. It has been reported quite often by hotel guests, especially when they are seated in the lobby near Morris’ pictorial homage, that they have felt “a cat” rub up against their legs. Audio recordings by several paranormal investigators have captured his warm purr which is “purr-fect” for America’s Most Haunted Hotel.