Wanna spend Halloween with a Ghost? Portland's Most Haunted!
by Sheryl Stewart,posted Oct 28 2009 12:32PM
According to a Citysearch article, The Heathman Hotel is the Portland spot you are most like to have a ghostly encounter. Our Crazy News Quiz winner says she and her husband have stayed in one of the haunted rooms and the ghost drank their water.
You may also want to check out Chuck Palahniuk's book, "Fugitives & Refugees". It's all about Portland and he has a section on Portland's most haunted spots. Here's an excerpt:
** from the book, "Fugitives & Refugees" **
2. The Portland Memorial
It looks like an apartment building rising above SE Bybee Street, just before Bybee curves to merge with SE Thirteenth Avenue. A combination of towering and sprawling wings, built in Victorian, Art Deco, and Spanish styles, it houses more than 58,000 residents with room for another 120,000. It's a 3.5-acre city within the city. A city of the dead. Started in 1901, the Portland Memorial has expanded into a chilly, carpeted maze of marble, concrete, bronze, and brass. You'll find Tiffany stained-glass windows, Carrara marble statues and fountains. Overstuffed sofas and chairs sit in little groupings. Stairways wind up and down. The long vaults link together to make vistas that seem to stretch forever.
Within ten minutes you'll be confused and lost. After fifteen minutes you'll panic. But while you're hunting for the way out, look for the crypt of Mayo Methot, Humphrey Bogart's first wife. After she died in 1951, a dozen roses arrived here every week for decades. Also, look for the Rae Room, the memorial's biggest crypt. Lined with stained glass, the vault holds two freestanding sar-cophaguses and is opened only one day each year. The story is, George Rae married his maid, Elizabeth, twenty-six years his junior, so no family members will visit except on Memorial Day.
And, yes, this is the mausoleum I used as the basis for my second novel, Survivor. Part of the book I even wrote here, but the air is freezing and your fingers get stiff, fast. The Portland Cacophony Society (portland. cacophony, org) occasionally hosts outings to explore the labyrinth. On a rainy day it's a good place to walk, tracing the history of Portland's pioneer families. Or maybe just sit and read a spooky book, surrounded by the dead, in a huge window that looks over the black swamp of Oakes Bottom, toward the spinning colored lights of the amusement park.
The Portland Memorial is at SE Fourteenth Avenue and Bybee Street. For hours, call 503-236-4141.3. Mount Gleall Castle
In 1892 pioneer Charles H. Piggott set out to build a castle "in which no two rooms would be alike and in which there would be no angles or straight lines." To name it, he combined the first two letters of each of his children's first names: Gladys, Earl, and Lloyd. Using bricks from the brickyard he owned on Sandy Boulevard, he built his castle at 2591 SW Buckingham Avenue, on the hillside south of Portland State University. A year later, in 1893, Piggott lost his fortune and had to sell his dream home.
In the hundred-plus years since then, the castle has had almost as many residents. In the 1960s it was available as a fantasy rental, and Portland natives say the Grateful Dead crashed there long enough to give Piggott s castle the nickname "the Dead Castle." People also say Piggott's ghost has never left the turreted, brick castle, now painted white, with a sauna installed in the tower.
One explanation is the system of tin tubes that Piggott installed as an intercom system throughout the house. Supposedly, the system picks up noise from downtown and voices from far rooms, amplifies them, and carries them around the house. The intercom was removed in the 1920s, but the reports of strange noises and voices continue. 4. Hoodoo Antiques
Nobody was more surprised than Mike Eadie, owner of Hoodoo Antiques, when people told him that a woman was lurking inside his shop late at night. When it was closed and locked, the alarms were set, and Mike was home with his wife, you could look in through the big display windows and see a woman in a long dress and a bonnet standing near the back of the shop.
Years ago, Eadie's mother-in-law, Ellen Wellborn, had an artist's studio in the Erickson s Saloon building nearby,
once a major combination of gambling hall, beer parlor, and whorehouse, boasting the longest bar in the world. In what was once a prostitutes crib, Ellen found a lovely pencil portrait tucked between the clapboards of the wall. The picture is oval, about six by four inches, and shows a young woman wearing a bonnet and a typical 1860s dark dress.
Ellen gave it to Mike, who's hung the small picture in his store, just inside the front door, but not so you can see it from the street. Even inside, unless you know where to look, you'd never notice it.
Since then, night after night, walking tours pass the shop and see someone inside. They insist she's not a reflection, the woman in a long dress and bonnet, standing in the shadows near the back of the store. Still, the motion detectors don't trip. And nothing is ever taken.
Hoodoo Antiques is at 122 NW Couch Street.
5. Bagdad Theater
There are parts of the Bagdad Theater at 3702 SE Hawthorne Boulevard that the employees just don't go into.
Built by Universal Studios as a movie palace in 1927, the theater offered live vaudeville acts until the 1940s. Today it's a combination beer pub and movie theater. Behind the huge movie screen is a separate theater, closed since the 1970s, that may someday become condominiums and a rooftop bar. But right now, it's supposed to be haunted by the ghost of a movie projectionist who hanged himself behind the screen on Christmas Eve decades ago.
That story is decades old. Whenever the auditorium's cantankerous lighting system acts up, they've always blamed the suicide.
According to theater manager Jason McEllrath, someone hung a cardiopulmonary resuscitation dummy behind the screen. They hung it years ago, and the dusty, spooky thing still dangles back there, ready to scare the uninitiated.
The theater basements are another story. The front one, along SE Hawthorne, is pretty ordinary. However, the back basements under the stage and backstage . . . "That's just plain scary," Jason says. "There's no lights, and it's full of creepy junk. Doors that go nowhere. We just don't go down there."
Besides the unexplained lights flickering off and on, employees also report cold spots and chilly drafts in rooms with no ventilation.
6. North Portland Library
A few years ago, this former Carnegie library at 512 N Killingsworth Street was renovated and security cameras were installed throughout. Every few seconds the view from a different one of the cameras appears on the video monitor behind the front desk. Soon after renovation, librarians watching the monitor saw an old man seated alone in the enormous second-floor meeting hall. The image only appears for a few seconds before the system cycles to the view from the next camera, but it shows enough to panic the staff. Still, every time they stampede upstairs to find the trespasser, they find the meeting room locked and empty.
Supposedly, the camera still shows the old man upstairs, but only occasionally, despite an increased effort to keep the room locked.
7. Cathedral Park
This park gets its name from the towering gothic arches that carry the Saint John's Bridge overhead. These arches march through the park, creating a sort-of cathedral effect. It's a wide-open park of lawns and play equipment, but not long ago it was a wasteland of briar thickets and hobo jungles, warehouses, and old wharves.
For most of the twentieth century local kids earned summer money by picking strawberries, raspberries, and boysenberries on outlying farms. These kids would wait, early in the morning, on street corners where the "Berry Buses" would pick them up. The buses took them to work and brought them home.
In the 1930s a young girl was kidnapped while waiting for the Berry Bus in North Portland. According to local legend, she was taken to the bushes below the north end of the Saint John's Bridge, tortured, and killed. Even now that Cathedral Park is a nice garden and hosts a summer jazz festival, nearby residents say you can still hear that one girl screaming in the park on warm summer nights.
8. Sauvie Island
Once called Wappato Island, this island between the Columbia River, the Willamette River, and the Multnomah Channel was home to a village of some fifty thousand members of the Multnomah tribe. Even before Portland was founded, smallpox brought by early explorers had left the island a deserted ruin of rotting huts and scarred survivors.
Today you can still find arrowheads scattered along the Columbia River beaches. Early morning joggers and late-evening walkers also report almost identical encounters with a naked Multnomah youth. The adolescent boy walks along the waterline and doesn't seem aware of anything except the river and the sand.
More recently, so many cremated nudists have been spread on "clothing optional" Collins Beach that most level areas above the tide line are layered in the telltale crunchy white grit of crushed bone.
9. Heathman Hotel's Haunted Photograph
At first glance the photograph looks ordinary. It shows the wood-paneled Tea Court of the Heathman Hotel at 1001 SW Broadway. There are paintings by Andy Warhol. A crystal chandelier from the American embassy in Czechoslovakia. A big, blazing fireplace. Flowers, plants, chairs, and sofas. There's the grand piano where Sting and Wyn-ton Marsalis and Arlo Guthrie sit and play for hours when they stay here.
In the photograph it's September 21, 2001, and the hotel's previous owners are officially passing the keys to the new owners. Near the fireplace, just outside the circle of people, a soft, glowing figure stands beside a chair. It's nothing you'd notice at first, but it's there.
"A guy took this picture," says Jeff Jobe, the hotel's general manager, "and the ghost was there. We've tried to reason it away, but we can't. Those lamps in the photo only have thirty-watt bulbs in them."
Charles Barkley stays here, signing his name "Billy Crystal." Billy Crystal stays here, signing as "Charles Barkley." For satirist David Sedaris, the Heathman is a second home, the only place he'd want to live in the United States outside of New York City. Jeff says, "At some point in the history of the hotel, this became the place for authors to stay. It's just the buzz." In fact so many famous writers stay here, the hotel's library has collected some three thousand signed first editions.
It's easy to see why guests keep coming back-and why some guests have never left.
Larry Adams, the hotel's director of operations, can tell you the maids are a little squeamish about cleaning Rooms 803 and 703. If a guest is going to complain, chances are they're booked in 803 or one of the rooms directly below it. People return to 803 or 703 to find the bottles of water half drunk. Desks are moved. Beds are mussed. Towels used. Cups and glasses are turned over. The television is turned on or a chair is moved. Of course, they complain.
But when Larry or Jeff check the key card system, it shows no one has entered the room since the last time the guest left. "There's no way to fudge the system," Jeff says. "You just can't get in."
In September 1999, the psychic Char, author of Questions from Earth, Answers from Heaven, stayed in Room 703. Another psychic, Echo Bodiene, stayed in the room for a week to dialogue with the spirit. The two women agree it's the spirit of a man who jumped from Room 803, committing suicide and now haunting each room he looked into on his way down.
Larry says the man was scarred or deformed in some way. "People made fun of the way he looked, and he was tired of it," he says, adding the suicide took place not long after the hotel opened in 1927.
In 1975 a blind guest named Harris killed himself in Room 303. His body was found by housekeeper Fidel Semper, now retired from the hotel. Employees and guests also report cold spots in the hallways, phantoms breezing past them, and the sound of footsteps on the grand staircase when it's empty.
Now when a guest complains, Jeff shows them the key card records, saying, "Look. Here's the readout. Nothing was stolen. He only moves furniture." Assuring them, "He doesn't make noise. He only drinks the water."
A ghost named Lydia is supposed to haunt the Pied Cow Coffeehouse, a Victorian mansion at 3244 SE Belmont Street. The restaurant that occupied the space previously,
Butter Toes, is supposed to have also been host to Lydia's presence.
11. The Haunted Bathrooms
In the bathrooms the trash lids start to swing by themselves. Water will start running in the bathroom sinks. You'll hear the sounds of someone doing their business in empty toilet stalls. Some mornings, the staff will arrive early to find the water running in sinks. Some nights, they'll hear the noise of parties in the private upstairs dining rooms that are empty.
At the Rose and Raindrop Restaurant, server Jenna Hill says, "A lot of people will go into the bathroom late at night and come out looking kind of pale."
Built by Edward Holman in 1880, the building at 532 SE Grand Avenue was for years the Barber and Hill Undertakers and Embalmers. In the dozen apartments above the restaurant, it's a given that clocks will reset themselves all the time. Mark Roe, an artist who sells his work at Portland's Saturday Market, remembers, "I had a girlfriend who lived in an apartment above the restaurant, and I'd stay overnight. You could still smell the formaldehyde coming up through the floors."
The building once housed the Nickelodeon Theater, one of Portland's first vaudeville and silent movie houses, as well as Ralph's Good Used Furniture store, owned by Ralph Jacobson, the man who taught the Hippo Hardware team their trade.
It was designed by Justus F. Krumbein, who also designed the original state capitol building. For several years it housed a restaurant called Digger O'Dells, named for the gravedigger character from the Life of Riley radio show in the 1940s.
The two private dining rooms-where you can hear mysterious parties at night-are named the Duffy and Baker rooms, after two traveling vaudeville troupes. Both rooms are directly over the haunted bathrooms. These, Jenna Hill says, are above the crematory ovens in the basement. Those ovens are walled over, she says, but still there.
12. Unmarked Graves
Nobody wanted to work late nights at Michaels (the arts and crafts store) when it was located at NE 122nd and Sandy Boulevard. Lights and a loud compressor would turn themselves off and on at night. It seems that road widening has crowded the adjacent pioneer cemetery, and scores of graves have been misplaced. The rumor among Michaels employees is that their old parking lot is paving over a good share of those plots. As a result several lawsuits against the county are pending.
Several employees at the neighboring Kmart confirm these stories, mostly the lights and noise at night, but asked not to be identified. This outlet of Michaels has since moved a few blocks, to more peaceful ground along Airport Way.
13. Maryhill Museum
"The first thing you need to learn is the difference between Maryhill myths and Maryhill reality," say Lee Musgrave, the media spokesman for Maryhill Museum.
Every year, people come visit this fine arts museum in the desert above the Columbia River, and they insist on the wildest things.
They insist that the builder, railroad magnate Sam Hill, kidnapped Queen Marie of Romania and kept her prisoner in a basement cell. And they insist the museum used to keep the world's largest sturgeon in a basement swimming pool. And the queen's gold gown on display in the main hall is covered with real diamonds that the museum staff replace with rhinestones whenever they need money to cover operating expenses. And Queen Marie was the lesbian lover of dancer Loie Fuller. And the place is haunted. Really haunted. A Druid funeral barge, acquired but never displayed, is still stored in pieces somewhere in the museum. And, and, and . . .
To start with, Lee says, "We don't even have a basement."
He explains how the huge Italian villa was built out of poured concrete, with the wooden floors laid over it. As the building heats and cools, it makes a lot of odd noises. He says, "I've been here in this building by myself at night, and I can tell you there are sounds that make you think there's someone in here with you."
Once, a constant knocking from the second floor turned out to be a raven caught between a window and an ornate iron security grille.
About the queen and Loie Fuller, the museums collections manager, Betty Long, says, "They were very personal. They were very warm. Loie Fuller was gay-that was established. She did have a lover. But there was no same-sex relationship between her and Marie."
Ironically, the true stories Betty and Lee offer are better than the rumors. The museum houses royal Romanian court furniture and artifacts, including the pen used to sign the Treaty of Ghent. For years the children and relatives of curators celebrated Christmas in the main hall, using that same priceless throne room furniture, the kids scribbling with the famous pen.
The museum collection includes chunks of the sailing ship Mayflower. It has the first Big Bertha shell fired during World War I. And a sizable collection of Rodin sculptures. And Native American artifacts. And Le Theatre de la Mode haute couture mannequins from 1946 Paris. Sure, they've collected a lot of items, but a ghost?
"I'm here at night for hours," Betty says, "and I don't scare easy. But one night I was working late and came downstairs to see Lee. We were alone in the building. I asked him, 'Why were you going up and down in the elevator so much?'"
Sitting here now, Lee laughs and says, "And I told Betty, 'I thought you were using the elevator . . .'"
To find Maryhill Museum, take Interstate 84 east for about two hours to exit 104. Turn left and cross over the Columbia River. Then follow the museum signs. They're open March 15 through November 15, 9:00 to 5:00, seven days a week.
14. Suicide Bridge
The Vista Avenue Viaduct was built in 1926 to replace the wooden Ford Street Bridge. The arched, reinforced-concrete bridge connects Goose Hollow to Portland Heights and passes over SW Jefferson Street. The bridge's dramatic height-and the five lanes of pavement below it-have made it an inevitable magnet for local jumpers.
"At first we weren't allowed to discuss it," says Janet Mahoney, the room division manager for the Columbia Gorge Hotel. "The official policy was: Oscar does not exist. Now it's: Document every occurrence."
And document they do, starting from the early 1980s, when the hotel's third floor was renovated and opened to guests for the first time in fifty years.
Built in 1921, the forty-room Columbia Gorge Hotel was an isolated three-hour drive from Portland. That made it a favorite love nest for Hollywood types from noted sex maniacs Clara Bow and Rudolph Valentino to Jane Powell, Myrna Loy, and Shirley Temple. The hotel was dubbed "the Waldorf of the West" but was eventually forgotten and neglected as a retirement home. Restoration started in 1978, and the hotel again became a lovely clifftop retreat for guests including Burt Reynolds, Kevin Costner, Olivia Newton-John, and Terri Garr.
Trouble started a few years after the 1978 restoration, when they reopened the third-floor honeymoon suite. One day, in the few moments the third-floor hallway was empty, something turned every wall sconce upside down. Janet says, "It took the maintenance man half a day to turn them all back."
On another day, she says, "A guest comes in from the parking lot. She slaps her hands down on the counter and demands, 'Is there something I should know about? I just saw a woman with dark hair, in a white gown, throw herself from the tower and disappear.'"
According to Janet, a honeymoon bride in the 1930s killed her husband in the third-floor suite, then jumped from the hotel's tower, landing in the parking lot. Just recently, another honeymoon couple sat in bed and watched a woman in white emerge from their bathroom, stand looking at them for two minutes, and disappear.
AH over the third floor, water starts running in the bathrooms while the maids clean. Fires start by themselves in fireplaces. In empty rooms heavy furniture moves up against the door so no one can enter from the hallway.
"Nobody's ever gotten hurt," Janet says. "Nobody's ever had more than the wits scared out of them."
One bartender, Michael, stays over some nights and reports the television turning itself on and off and a phantom hand being placed on her face.
A hotel maid, Millie, nicknamed the spirit or spirits "Oscar" after she started finding flowers left every day in the exact same place on the attic stairs. In the attic, marbles roll out of the shadows. They roll uphill against the slanted floor.
To find the hotel, take Interstate 84 east for about 1.5 hours. Take exit 62 and turn left at the stop sign. Cross back over the freeway, toward the river, and turn left again. The hotel will be between you and the cliffs. It's that yellow building-with the tower.
16. Powell's Rare Book Room
Employees swear that the ghost of Walter Powell, the bookstore's founder, still walks the mezzanine outside the Rose Room. Check for Walter near the drinking fountain. Steve Fidel in publicity says Tuesday nights are the most likely time. Also check out the sculpture of stacked books outside the northwest street door. Inside the carved stone are the ashes of a man who wanted to be buried at Powell's. The canister of his cremains sat on a bookstore shelf for years until it was sealed inside the new sculpture.
Wanna spend Halloween with a Ghost? Portland's Most Haunted!
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