Pittock Mansion sits high in Oregon’s West Hills overlooking the city of Portland. This 23 room house designed by Californian architect Edward Foulkes is an eclectic mix of British Victorian country house, French Renaissance-style château with Italian influences including an Italianate red-tiled roof. West coast architects at the turn of the 20th century were rarely accused of being original. Despite the building’s facade of wealth and luxury, this house hides a disturbing paranormal presence.
It also hides the humble origins of its first owners, the wealthy Portland couple Henry and Georgiana Pittock. Both were Oregon pioneers who endured the hardships of the 2,200-mile, Oregon trail that led from the Missouri River to the pine valleys of Oregon.
Henry Pittock, was born into extreme poverty in the East End of London, within the sound of the Bow Bells, in 1834. He spent most of his youth in Pittsburgh and eventually arrived in Oregon, by wagon train, aged 19, seeking fortune and adventure. In 1853, he took a job as a typesetter at The Oregonian, a newspaper that he would later buy. His wife to be, Georgiana, née Burton, was born in Missouri in 1845, and came to Portland with her family of grain farmers in 1854. They were married in 1860, at that time Henry was still a type setter and she was the daughter of a wealthy flour mill owner. A few months after their wedding Henry bought The Oregonian.
Weird Scenes inside the Pittock Mansion in Portland, Oregon
Many weird occurrences have been reported in the Pittock Mansion over the decades since it was built in 1914. One visitor is said to have overheard a heated conversation between Henry Pittock with another man, who was dressed in the tweeds that were fashionable amongst mountain climbers in the 19th century.
In the conversation, Pittock, who was an avid mountaineer, disputes the other man’s claim that Pittock was not the first to reach the summit of Mount Hood. The other man, called Thomas, asserts that he was the first to climb the 11,249 feet to the summit Mount Hood, the highest mountain in Oregon.
Pittock was credited as being the first to ascend to the summit on July 11th, 1857, with a party of four others. However, his claim of being the first to climb the mountain was disputed by Thomas Dryer, once an editor of The Oregonian, who said he had reached the summit three years earlier.
Reaching the Summit
The Pittock Mansion was explicitly built by architect Edward Foulkes, under the instruction of Pittock, to have a clear view over the town to Mount Hood, and the ghostly figure of Henry, dressed in climbing tweeds, can often be seen at an upper window looking outwards towards the mountain, by those who have an eye for such things.
In 1894, Henry helped found the Mazamas Mountaineering Club, to enable others to the reach the summit of Mount Hood. Some of those close to Henry, in the last years of his life, believed that he thought reaching the summit of Mount Hood was one of the greatest achievements of his life. To him, it was an even greater achievement than becoming the owner of The Oregonian.
Reaching the summit was a recurring theme, both physically and mentally, in Henry’s life which started from a base camp of utter poverty and ended high in the Oregon mountains.
Weird apparitions in Pittock Mansion
Some other visitors to the mansion reported seeing a woman sewing in a chair next to the hearth in one of the rooms. The woman was believed to be Georgina Pittock. It is said that Georgina would often mend her family’s clothes, sitting at the fireside on the small farm she grew up on near the Missouri River. She was also actively involved with local women’s charities, and founded the Ladies Sewing Society, in 1887. Members, like her, would sew clothes and sell them at local sales to raise money to support a number of charities in the town of Portland.
Others visiting the house saw windows quietly unlatching and opening on their own and then heard a woman’s voice shout, “Its time for tea”. Also, one of the gardeners is said to have been spooked by an apprentice printer covered in ink reading The Oregonian under a table. The apprentice was thought to have been a manifestation of Henry.
Moving Pictures at Pittock Mansion
Another guest at the house, thought to be psychic, said they heard something heavy like an anvil being dragged across an empty room, and saw the same distinctive portrait of Henry Pittock with a white necktie, hung in different rooms with no explanation of how the portrait was moved from the previous room. Another psychic passing through the mansion, said the pen, in Pittock’s left hand, in the same portrait, that denotes Pittock is a publisher, kept disappearing and reappearing.
Recently, there was a report of a local newspaper that was so determined to disprove the Pittock mansion’s paranormality, and the ghostly rumours that abound about the mansion, that it sent a ghostbuster to the premises. He was armed with state-of-the-art ghost finding technology. In the end up the “ghostbuster” fled. He was that desperate to get out, he had forgotten to switch the ghost finder technology on in the first place.
How to get to Pittock Mansion by bus without being spooked
Bus number 20 runs every 20 minutes from W Burnside & NW 5th (in downtown Portland) to W Burnside & NW Hermosa. From there walk for 5 minutes up a 1,000 feet ascent to the mansion.
Pittock Mansion Hours
Pittock Mansion, 3229 NW Pittock, Sept-May 10 am-4 pm, June-Labor Day 10 am-5 pm, closed Thanksgiving and Christmas, $8-12 admission
The Pittock Mansion view, below, over Portland to Mount Hood, as seen from the alleged viewpoint of the ghost of Henry Pittock at an upper window in the house.