PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — It’s been a quintessential Portland October of brooding clouds and vibrant foliage these past couple of weeks. But that’s not the only thing to appreciate in the days leading up to Halloween.
Oregon has quite a few historical sites with dark pasts and speculations of paranormal activity.
Whether or not you consider yourself a superstitious person, it’s hard not to appreciate a bit of spooky state history.
Here are five rumored haunted locations to check out in the Portland metro area before Halloween.
Grand Lodge Hotel (Forest Grove)
Tucked away in Forest Grove stands a manor with iconic white columns, known today as the Grand Lodge Hotel.
The property once served for 77 years as the Masonic and Eastern Star Home for “aged and distressed” Freemasons, according to a 2009 newsletter from the Forest Grove Historic Landmarks Board.
The Masonic lodge was purchased by McMenamins in 1999 and converted into a hotel. Today, the 90-room property is a popular destination for weddings and conferences, but guests and staff might not be the only ones residing within the lodge. Rumors of paranormal activity are just as ubiquitous as the one-of-a-kind artwork inside.
One employee told Historic Landmarks Board Member Holly Tsur in 2009 that guests and staff will often report “ghostly occurrences” throughout the lodge. Guests have also taken photos of “white, misty-looking orbs” and reported showers and sinks spontaneously gushing water, as well as objects and furniture rearranged by “unseen hands.”
The employee also told Tsur that she was on her way to cover the soaking pool when she encountered “an old man wearing a gray-green cardigan.” She recalls being able to see right through the man — whom she later recognized in an old photograph hanging on the lodge’s second floor. The man, known as “Old Joe,” was supposedly a deceased resident of the Masonic nursing home who used to hide under staircases and around corners to “watch people.”
But the lodge’s most frequent apparition is supposedly a bespectacled old woman known as the “Lavender Lady.” Anyone who visits the lodge can find a hand-painted image of her on the back wall of Room 232. Next to her image is a description of construction crews in 1999 who said they experienced sudden scents of lavender “wafting through the air.” One worker recalled seeing a white-haired woman wearing a “contented grin as if she was getting something.”
Today, guests and staff will still report scents of lavender lingering throughout parts of the lodge.
McMenamins Edgefield (Troutdale)
In Troutdale lies 74 acres of opulent gardens and whimsical architecture known today as McMenamins Edgefield. But this entertainment and lodging complex spot was once home to the Portland area’s disabled and low-income residents.
The Multnomah County Poor Farm was built in 1911 with the intent of helping “the poor” become “self-sufficient through farming,” according to the Oregon Historical Society. In 1914, the farm housed 302 residents, who managed dairy cows, hogs, hens and a hefty variety of crops.
While the poor farm appeared to be a success on paper, the concept was abandoned following President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the job boom of World War II and new Social Security programs, which lured the able-bodied residents away, leaving behind disabled residents who had become so accustomed to institutionalized life that they were no longer able to live independently.
The Portland Tribune is a KOIN 6 News media partner
By 1985, Edgefield was declared “dilapidated beyond repair” and set for demolition, according to the Historical Society. But the Troutdale Historical Society fought to preserve the historic buildings. In 1990, Mike and Brian McMenamin got their hands on the property, converting it to a hotel.
Just like the Grand Lodge, guests and staff have also reported paranormal activity in the building. Room 215 is reportedly the most requested room, The Advocate, the Mt. Hood Community College newspaper, reported in 2012.
One employee, Alison Berliner, told The Advocate that the Edgefield is definitely haunted.
“I have seen a nurse in the hallway upstairs (from the winery) and it was 11 o’clock in the morning,” she told The Advocate.
“I was just walking with a bucket and I saw this ’60s (styled woman). I could tell she had a little hat on. I could tell she had pantyhose on. That’s how clear she was. And she was just walking, and you couldn’t see keys, but it looked like she was holding keys, and she was coming this way, and she kinda turned and she looked like she was going to open a door and then just vanished,” Berliner said about the full apparition she described as “obviously a nurse.”
Scaponia Park (Columbia County)
In between Vernonia and Scappoose, along the banks of the Nehalem, is a popular summer hiking and camping destination known as Scaponia Park.
Parallel to the park are popular trails like the Crown Zellerbach Trail, colloquially known as the “Crown Z.” The trail was once used for logging. Beginning in Scappoose on the Multnomah Channel at Chapman Landing, it traversed the forested areas of rural Columbia County to Vernonia Lake.
Legend has it that Scaponia Park is haunted by the ghost of a horse thief and his dog. The thief is believed to have been a local drifter who made a living stealing and selling horses, accompanied by his small dog.
As the story goes, local residents eventually caught on to the thief’s transgressions, and an angry mob chased him and his dog into the Nehalem River.
Campers and hikers to this day report seeing apparitions of the thief and his dog around the park.
The Roseland Theater (Portland)
A popular music venue located in Old Town Chinatown in Portland was also the site of a particularly horrific murder in the 1990s.
The building was first built to serve as a place of worship for the Apostolic Faith Church in 1922. In 1982, the building was bought by Larry Hurwitz and converted into a music venue known as Starry Night. Hurwitz was considered a “larger-than-life leader” in the city’s music scene, according to The Oregonian.
But Hurwitz would also become the center of Portland’s most notorious murder mystery, following the murder of 21-year-old Tim Moreau in 1990. The body of Moreau — supposedly buried somewhere in the Columbia River Gorge — was never recovered, but one of Hurwitz’s associates, George Castagnola, later told authorities that he held down Moreau while Hurwitz strangled him in the backstage hallway, to keep him quiet about a counterfeit ticket scam. Hurwitz was convicted of the murder in 2000.
The story was extensively covered at the time by reporter Jim Redden, previously of Willamette Week and PDXS and now of the Portland Tribune.
Moreau’s parents told Willamette Week in 2018, “If it weren’t for the press and media efforts, we probably wouldn’t know what happened to our son.”
Lone Fir Cemetery (Portland)
The first person to be buried at Lone Fir in 1846 was Emmor Stephens, whose son, James Stephens paid $200 for a land claim that reached from the Willamette River to present-day Southeast 23rd Avenue, from Stark Street to Division Street, according to Historic Cemeteries of Portland, Oregon, written by Teresa Bergen and Heide Davis.
The land became the final resting place of many other Portlanders, as the city’s previous graveyards suffered from marshy ground, according to Bergen and Davis. In 1866, the cemetery expanded by several more acres.
It was named the Lone Fir Cemetery after the one fir tree standing on the grounds.
Over the years, the cemetery became one of the most coveted spots to be buried in Portland.
It is rumored the ghost of Anne Jeanne Tingry-LeCoz, a sex worker known by most as Emma Merlotin, roams the grounds of Lone Fir. In 1885, someone murdered her with a hatchet in her home at Southwest Third Avenue and Yamhill Street, according to Bergen and Davis.
Legend has it that a woman dressed in French fashion can be seen throwing up her hands and screaming at the cemetery. Others report seeing a happier apparition of a young woman in a red dress, calmly strolling the area.