Paranormal Claims at
- A smell of rose perfume can be experienced throughout the mansion
- Portraits and other family heirlooms are known to move from place to place with no one known to have moved them
- Heavy footsteps are heard in the home without explanation, and are sometimes heard outside in the gardens as well
- Apparitions are occasionally spotted in the mansion, sometimes in the midst of moving objects around
- Windows in the house supposedly open and close, and sometimes even lock and unlock on their own
History of Pittock Mansion
Take a trip up the winding driveway of the Pittock property and you will find a marvelous sight hidden just beyond lush trees and twisting topography. A sprawling Italianate renaissance chateau stands as the centerpiece of the Pittock estate, its architectural beauty only rivaled by the views over Portland, Oregon and the lively colors created by the expansive Pittock gardens.
Built by and fit for a business tycoon, Pittock Mansion is an homage to the decadence of the golden age of robber barons, free enterprise, and rags-to-riches success stories. But, given that Henry and Georgiana Pittock had only a few years to enjoy the mansion before their passing, is it possible their spirits still maintain residence in their extravagant chateau?
Timeline of Pittock Mansion's History
Swipe or use timeline points to see Pittock Mansion through the years
Henry Pittock was born in London in 1835 to a family in the printing business, and raised from age four in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The family business provided well for Henry, allowing him to gain skills early as his father’s apprentice. But in 1852, Henry and his brother moved west seeking adventure, landing in the Oregon Territory in 1853.
Rejected by a large local paper, the Oregon Spectator, Henry took a typesetter job for the small Oregonian. At first, he was paid only in room and board, though his good work soon earned him a salary.
Over the following years, Henry collected larger ownership shares of the paper, taken in lieu of missed salary payments. While the founding editor of the paper, Thomas Dryer, took more interest in politics than publishing, Henry moved up the ranks until he was managing editor.
In 1860, Henry married his sweetheart, Georgiana, and took an even more active role in operating the Oregonian as Dryer focused on Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign. But Dryer’s political obsession was about to pay big dividends to them both.
Lincoln was so impressed with Thomas Dryer’s work that he offered him a post as Commissioner of Hawaii. Dryer accepted and left ownership of the Oregonian to Henry Pittock. Henry flourished as owner, turning the small paper into a publishing empire. By now, Pittock had many competitors, but gained an edge with a scheme to get Civil War news days ahead of others.
By the time of Lincoln’s assassination, Henry was so well connected that wiremen hid the news of the president’s death from other papers so Pittock could have the exclusive.
It would be easy to call the rest history, as Pittock continued to pour gasoline onto the flames of his success throughout the 19th century. Buying up paper mills across the territory, Henry used this additional leverage to open other newspapers in Portland. He expanded further, buying up banks, logging companies, real estate firms, and transportation companies.
By 1909, he was one of the richest men in Oregon, and it was time to build a palace befitting his fortune.
Though work began in 1909, Pittock Mansion was not complete until 1914. When finished, the mansion was one of the most advanced in the nation, including such luxuries as an intercom, an elevator, and a walk-in refrigerator.
Henry chose a spot in the hills above Portland to take in the views of the city that built his fortune. The land was filled with large rose gardens, testaments to Georgiana’s love for gardening. Unfortunately, the couple’s time in the home was brief. Georgiana died in 1918 and Henry in 1919.
Pittock Mansion was put up for sale by the family in 1958. However, they were unsuccessful in selling the estate, and still owned it in 1962 when a storm caused extensive damage to the house. Knowing the home faced demolition, community members fundraised to save it. In turn, the city of Portland purchased it, opening it as a museum in 1965. Pittock Mansion has been a popular museum and landmark ever since. And, over the years of public access, stories emerged that members of the Pittock family still remained in the mansion as ghosts.
Is Pittock Mansion Haunted?
The spirits of both Henry and Georgiana Pittock are commonly reported throughout the mansion, though they are known to manifest in a variety of ways.
The unmistakable smell of rose perfume is frequently encountered by visitors and employees, and many take this to indicate the presence of Georgiana, who had a lifelong love of roses.
Heavy footsteps are also reported in the house. Sometimes, witnesses say they hear the phenomena coming from outside in the garden at first, only to hear the steps track their way inside through a side door.
Some who have heard these footsteps think they’re caused by the spirit of the home’s head groundskeeper, still keeping an eye on Georgiana’s prized gardens.
Pittock Mansion’s Ghosts Redecorate
Other paranormal activity centers around the portrait of Henry Pittock that hangs in the house, with employees saying it has been moved around the home unexplainably. Some visitors claim they’ve seen shadowy figures moving this picture and other pieces of décor around, only to disappear when spotted.
Others on tours report feelings of an unseen presence escorting them through the mansion, as if Henry and Georgiana are still playing the role of proper hosts.
Who Plays with the Lights at Pittock Mansion?
Another significant story tells of an employee closing up the museum for the night, shutting off all the lights as they went. While they walked away from the mansion, they turned back to see every single light in the mansion suddenly turned on without explanation.
Windows in the Pittock Mansion are also notorious for opening and closing without warning, sometimes even latching and unlatching themselves.
Pittock Mansion’s haunting seems happy
While most reports of hauntings at the Pittock Mansion are believed to be Henry and Georgiana Pittock, or occasionally the spirit of their beloved groundskeeper, no report indicates any malevolence. Many describe the spirits as happy to show tourists around, and enjoying the company the public provides.
Much like the roses in Georgiana’s gardens, the spiritual activity at Pittock Mansion has become a cornerstone of the experience. Some even call it the happiest haunted house in the country, and if you ask Henry and Georgiana, they might just say that’s right.