"We could have repaired the elevator, which would have cost around $35,000," Moyer said. "Instead, we decided to replace it."
The main reason for the decision: the elevator was not the original, but one put in after a fire destroyed the fifth floor of the hotel in 1967. The current owners had the fifth floor put back on in 1999, but the replacement elevator did not go higher than the fourth floor. And the cab was smaller than the original.
"It was a patch job," Moyer said. "We wanted to use all the space available in the elevator shaft."
So the owners decided to have a new elevator built from the ground up -- literally.
"It didn't go to the ground floor before," Moyer said, "and now it does."
Some of the challenges: cutting through a stone wall in the basement to create a landing, and cutting a pit four feet down through the limestone floor to create a space high enough for a person to stand up under the cab when the cab is at the basement landing, a safety requirement.
On the fifth floor, workers had to cut through the new roof put on when the floor was added and build a control room above that floor's landing. Two landings on other floors were rebuilt, and two repaired, Moyer said. While the landings match the elegance of the hotel, the working parts are all modern. The Crescent's owner, Elise Roenigk, also owns the Basin Park Hotel and had its old elevator rehabilitated, Moyer said.
Replacing an elevator, as opposed to rehabilitating one, requires compliance with all modern building codes.
"It has proven more difficult than we thought," Moyer said. "We expected it to be back in April."
To get the work done, two construction crews have been working seven days a week, Moyer said, and have now completed work on the shaft. That required removing lathe and plaster and installing sheetrock to make the shaft fireproof. Workers also installed four steel rails that the cab rides on, and are now finishing the control room above the fifth floor landing. A wooden platform in the shaft, which resembles the floor of an elevator, provides a base for the workers.
"We've had civil engineers, structural engineers, carpenters and electricians -- sometimes there were a dozen people working on the elevator," he said.
The new elevator system was custom-designed by architect Dave McKee of Fayetteville, with components manufactured offsite, which have started arriving, Moyer said. The cab, which will hold eight people, was built in Texas, and comes in panels, Moyer said. The control panel was made in Minnesota, and the motor in Canada.
"All the parts and components have to come together," he said.
Having the hotel's only elevator out of service for seven months hasn't affected occupancy rates much, Moyer said, but has been challenging for guests who have trouble walking. And one segment of the staff have been particularly affected.
"It's been hard on the bellmen," Moyer said.
Moyer noted that originally, the hotel elevator was not used for guests, but for their luggage. And guests had to climb steps up the hill from the street below to enter the hotel. In addition to the luggage elevator, the hotel had a dumb waiter that went to the basement, where the laundry was. Now a conduit for wiring, the dumb waiter was probably used to deliver linens to each floor, Moyer said.
Other changes made to the hotel have been more dramatic than the new elevator -- the fifth floor addition cost well in excess of $1 million, Moyer said. A conservatory, used for wedding receptions and parties, was added onto the lobby, New Moon Spa was installed on the ground floor, all the major mechanicals were upgraded and the old Crescent Dining Room converted into the 1886 Steak House, complete with saloon bar. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., weekends being reserved for weddings.
"We do a little over 400 weddings a year," Moyer said.
Every guest room has been renovated at least once, Moyer said, and was once a radio station has been turned into an ice cream parlor. The Crescent had two radio stations, Moyer said, the other one located on the top floor, and where there when he visited in 1995. Moyer was hired in 1997, and since then, has become an expert in elevator maintenance, being the go-to guy when a problem arises. The general contractor of the new project, Don Alberson, redid the Basin Park elevator and has become a master elevator electrician, Moyer said.
The bill for the Crescent's new lift will come in at around $250,000, Moyer said. The Roenigks put all the proceeds from the Crescent and Basin Park back into maintaining the buildings, he said. The year, the total will be more than $1 million for the two hotels, Moyer said.
"Certainly the building is in better shape than it has been in the last 100 years," he said of the Crescent.
It will be in even better shape when the new elevator is up and running, which it is expected to be by the end of August.
"Everybody's ready for the elevator to be back," Moyer said.
Built in 1886, The Cresent Hotel was billed as an exclusive resort for the "carriage set." For more information, go to www.crescent-hotel.com.