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Henry Pittock, an Oregonian publisher, and newspaper editor built the French Renaissance-style mansion in 1914. Pittock and his wife, Georgiana Burton Pittock, desired home in the West Hills of Portland but the 46 room estate proved to be an interesting build. Construction, which began in 1909, started with Tenino Sandstone. Hand-picked by Edward Foulkes, a San Francisco architect, construction officially began. Pittock requested the most up-to-date electronics and luxuries money could buy. Because of this, it took Foulkes and his team an exceptionally long time to complete the mansion. The luxury electronics included a central vacuum system, intercoms in all of the rooms, specialty lighting, an elevator, and a restaurant-sized walk-in refrigerator! The mansion’s interiors featured styles hand-picked by Foulkes including French Renaissance, Edwardian, and Turkish architecture. After the completion of the mansion, Foulkes became a well-known name in upper-class circles. The mansion soon became a high-class hangout for Portland’s upper-class community.
Georgiana Pittock enjoyed being a socialite in these circles. She delighted in taking leisurely strolls with her friends around the many gardens on the grounds. Georgiana especially enjoyed tending to her many rose gardens. In fact, she helped to create Portland’s Rose Society which held the first-ever Rose Show in 1889. Eventually, her love of roses led to the launch of Portland’s famous Rose Festival which is still celebrated to this day. Today, visitors can walk the rows of heritage roses that gardeners hand planted to honor Georgiana’s contributions to Portland.
Georgiana died at the age of 72 in 1918 and one year later Henry followed his wife. The Pittock Mansion remained in the family until 1958 when Eric Ladd and Peter Gantenbein decided to sell it. Both men, Pittock grandsons, struggled to keep up with the maintenance required to keep the mansion functional. Then, in 1962, the Columbus Day Storm hit causing millions of dollars worth of damage to the building. Ladd and Gantenbein decided to demolish the building but the city of Portland stepped in. The community came together and raised seventy-five thousand dollars in three months to save the mansion. Soon after, the city of Portland purchased the mansion for two-hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. In 1964, after seeing how important it was to the community, the city made the Pittock Mansion a historic site.
Reported Paranormal Activity:
Since the 1960s, visitors have been reporting strange activity in and around the Pittock Mansion. Grounds workers and visitors alike all agree that the ghosts are not malevolent in any way. Many assume that the ghosts are the spirits of Henry and Georgiana Pittock. After all, who wouldn’t want to spend eternity in a beautiful mansion?! Plenty of spooky occurrences happen daily at the mansion, some spookier than others…
The highest reported activity happens in the upper rooms of the mansion. Visitors report that upon entering the rooms they immediately smell the intense scent of rose perfume. Staff believes that this is Georgiana Pittock making her presence known. While most visitors report feeling surprised by the smell, most say that they felt that the presence wished them no ill will. Outside, near the northern side of the mansion, visitors report hearing the sound of a shovel hitting the ground. Soon after, the sound of heavy footsteps stomping away towards the mansion can be heard. Staff believes that these are the sounds of the groundskeeper going about his daily routine. Like the Pittocks, the groundskeeper lived and died in the mansion. Luckily for visitors, he is also a kind spirit.
Footsteps of unknown origins have also been reported. They happen at random, according to staff members, and at all hours of the day. Staff report seeing windows in the mansion open and close themselves almost as if they have a will of their own. Visitors and staff report seeing a portrait of Henry Pittock moving around on the wall by itself. Some of the strangest reports involve human-like shapes moving furniture, pictures, and even house plants from room to room. One visitor reported hearing a picture fall off of the wall in one of the rooms. When she went to investigate the sound she watched as a woman wearing a long gown picked up the fallen picture from the floor. A staff member came up behind the woman and asked her if she was okay. The woman turned back around to see that the woman in the gown had vanished. One female employee got scared of her life as she closed up the building for the night. Part of her job involved turning off all the lights in the mansion. After all of the lights were off she began locking all of the doors including the front door to the mansion. As she turned to leave for the night all of the lights in the mansion switched on. No matter what you believe, it is clear that someone or something haunts the grounds of the Pittock Mansion. Whether it be the spirits of Henry and Georgiana Pittock or that of their groundskeeper– you can be sure there is something supernatural taking place there. Staff and visitors agree that the spirits are friendly and happily welcome newcomers…as long as they don’t step on the roses!
Be sure to check out the Photo Gallery below for some amazing photos. (Click on any photo to enlarge)