Flavel Mansion

Are the phantoms of the Flavel family still residing in their mansion-turned-museum?

Ghost Stories of
Flavel Mansion

  • Voices and music can be heard on the first floor when no one is there
  • A floral perfume aroma arises out of nowhere on the second floor
  • An unhappy entity is reported in the home's library
  • The figure of George Flavel is reportedly seen in the master bedroom
  • Taps on the shoulders are commonly reported by visitors
  • An uninviting presence is reported from the third floor tower

Flavel Mansion’s Well-Preserved Past

It’s often said that a king ought to have a perch from which to survey his kingdom. For George Flavel, that perch was his picturesque hillside estate in Astoria, Oregon. A palatial Queen Anne-style home with a looming three-story tower overlooking the river and an ornately cut perimeter fence separating it from the hustle-and-bustle of central Astoria, the Flavel Mansion certainly looks like a home befitting a king.

And as for George Flavel’s kingdom? Just like his home, it still persists in pristine condition today, in the form of the ever-flowing waters of the Columbia River.

When tugboat captain George Flavel arrived in Oregon to receive his marine piloting state license in December 1851, he was one of the only marine pilots to also possess a captain’s license. This made him both a renaissance seaman and a desirable commodity among seaside towns hoping to capitalize on oceanic and interstate trade. But, a few short months after his arrival in The Beaver State, George Flavel’s strong reputation was about to transform into that of a local folk hero.

George Flavel: Mansion Namesake
& Hero of the High Seas

On January 28, 1852, steamboat SS General Warren shipped off from Astoria with George Flavel piloting the vessel. Soon after he disembarked and left her in the hands of her captain, the SS General Warren hit rough weather and began taking on water. By the next morning, she had to return to Astoria or risk total loss. Flavel returned aboard to maneuver the ship back to Astoria harbor, but Mother Nature was not on his side. Conditions worsened throughout the morning, and the steamboat’s captain ordered the ship aground to avert her foundering.

Flavel, who had the best knowledge of the waterways in the region, directed the ship onto a sandbar and collected a few crewmen to make the perilous journey back to harbor on a dinghy. Flavel and his skeleton crew made it back to harbor, and he immediately began recruiting larger vessels to assist the General Warren. Though he found only one ship willing to go out in the gale, Flavel piloted it fearlessly through the rising swells to reach the steamer. Unfortunately, when he returned to the sandbar, the General Warren had slid from its grounding and foundered with all hands.

Timeline of Flavel Mansion's History

Swipe or use timeline points to see Flavel Mansion through the years


52 souls were lost when SS General Warren sank, and George Flavel was only spared due to his heroic decision to dinghy back to harbor for help. After the disaster, Flavel became a local hero. But his success was only just beginning. Flavel leveraged his hero status in Oregon into a near monopoly on ship piloting on the Columbia River in the following years. Flavel’s entrepreneurial spirit and fearless reputation made him one of the richest people in the region and allowed him to build whatever home he wanted on the shores of the Columbia.


George Flavel built his stately mansion in 1885. When it was finished, it was a sprawling 11,600 square feet and cost an estimated $36,000 to construct, a princely sum in that era. While his family made themselves at home, George made use of the tall tower to observe the ship traffic on the Columbia River, which he could have rightly considered his well-earned kingdom. Unfortunately for George Flavel, he had precious little time to enjoy his home. Captain Flavel died in 1893, less than 10 years after the completion of his mansion.


George’s wife, Mary Christina, lived in the home with her daughters for 29 more years until she died in 1922. The mansion traded hands amongst the Flavels until 1934, when the family donated the home to Astoria. The city had hoped to tear the home down and build a park, but financial difficulties from the Great Depression resulted in the city returning the property to the Flavels in 1936. The family offered it to a variety of offices over the years, including the Red Cross, the Public Health Department, and the Welfare Commission.


In 1951, the city brought back talks of tearing Flavel Mansion down, but faced great community uproar. Concerned citizens organized to save the home and successfully got it turned into a museum operated by the local historical society. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The home still functions as a museum today and remains in the hands of the Clatsop County Historical Society.

Is Flavel Mansion Haunted?

With such a long and storied history for the home and the family that built it, it’s no wonder that ghost stories have hung around the Flavel Mansion for generations. Many reports come from the first and second floors of the home, which are open to the public as part of the historical museum.

Visitors frequently report the sounds of music and familial conversation on the first floor, only to find no one in the rooms where they were hearing the sounds. It is believed these sounds are the spirits of the Flavel daughters, who were gifted musicians.

Does George Flavel Linger in Flavel Mansion?

In the home’s library, visitors commonly experience an uninviting or unhappy presence, though no one has identified the source of this feeling, be it spiritual or otherwise.

On the second floor, the smell of floral perfume is often encountered in the bedrooms, and the apparition of George Flavel has reportedly been encountered multiple times in the home’s master bedroom. Those who have seen him claim he fades right into the floor when he disappears, as if sinking into the river waters he knew so well.

Flavel Mansion’s Haunted Bedrooms

In the former bedroom of Katie Flavel, museum volunteers have said that they will close the room’s curtains only to return a few minutes later and find them open again, even when there wasn’t anyone else in the home to open them. The story goes that Katie Flavel always enjoyed natural light, and thus always preferred the curtains open in her room.

Visitors who take photos of the bedrooms sometimes report that they’re tapped on the shoulder afterwards, as if spirits are requesting them to take further photos.

Further up, in the third-floor tower, visitors and volunteers alike have reported an uninviting feeling there similar to the library, quietly ushering them to leave the space.

Flavel Mansion: Flagship
of Haunted History

Whether the Flavel family still resides there in spirit or not, the family’s home is undeniably a staple of Astoria’s history. After seven decades as a preserved museum, the Flavel Mansion has become almost synonymous with the town that surrounds it, appearing in numerous pieces of media about the town, and even making an appearance in Richard Donner’s 1980s classic The Goonies, which was set in Astoria.

Though George Flavel never intended to be a local hero or enterprising multi-millionaire, he and his family’s story remain set in the intricate hardwood of the home that serves as their legacy. And, spend enough time in the historic Flavel Mansion, and you just might run into the shadowy presence of George Flavel himself.