Tales of haunted houses and ghost stories that will make your hair stand on end are an American tradition, especially around Halloween. In Oregon’s Washington County, those stories are not only legend, but have become stories to celebrate. Eerie tales from pioneer days of the area’s earliest settlers abound; however, the most bone-chilling are the stories about ghostly spirits from more recent times.
Located in the heart of Sherwood’s Old Town, the Morback House has been the subject of many ghostly tales. The house, which now is home to the Sherwood Historical Society and formerly housed the Sherwood Police Department, has been the site of paranormal activity, such as heavy footsteps on the central staircase and a tombstone appearing in front of a door, only to disappear as mysteriously as it appeared three days later. In 2009, the North Oregon Paranormal Investigators (ghost hunters) checked out the Morback House Museum to investigate, and were greeted by ghostly voices in the basement saying, “Go away; go away.”
Want to learn more about the ghostly happenings at the Morback House Museum? Watch the video: Watch the Video: “Haunted Museum in Sherwood, Oregon”
The Haunting of Knight Hall
Founded in 1849 as the “Tualatin Academy,” Pacific University (pictured, left) is one of the region’s oldest academic institutions. Today, it is the site of one of Washington County’s most eerily haunting ghost, Vera.
As legend stands, Vera, a former music student at the school, died in Knight Hall (now the admissions building). Various stories exist about how Vera’s spirit came to inhabit the university, including one tale that she took her own life over an ill-fated love affair.
What is known about Vera is that for decades there have been many sightings of her. She has been heard singing and playing piano and voicing her displeasure at some students’ performances by audibly sighing or telling the budding pianists to “please stop.”
Each Halloween, Pacific University students hold an event, “A Night in Knight Hall,” where students spend the night in the building and attempt to communicate with Vera’s ghost.
McMenamins Grand Lodge (pictured, right) is a stately European-style hotel with a storied past. Built in 1922 as the Masonic & Eastern Star Home, the property originally served as a rest home for Master Masons, their widows and orphans. It has since become synonymous with many strange happenings, aided in part by its colorful wall décor–Masonic imagery and symbols and historical photographs, giving the hotel a uniquely eerie feel.
Various locations throughout the property have been witness to alleged paranormal and unexplained activities. Perhaps the best-known spirit at the Grand Lodge is the “Lavender Lady,” whose presence is known not just by the guest room named in her honor, or by her likeness painted on a wall mural. When the “Lavender Lady” is around, an unmistakable strong lavender scent permeates the hallway.
Stories of the Grand Lodge’s haunting have flourished for years and are folklore for ghost hunters . The hotel’s guests and staffers have shared their tales and sightings in the “ghost log,” which is kept at the front desk to record the strange happenings at the property.
The Phantom of the Theatre
The Venetian Theatre and Bistro, a movie and live performance theatre, bistro and wine bar, (pictured, left) is a site of recent paranormal activity. The building, located in downtown Hillsboro, has experienced a series of mysterious events: unexplained water leaks, lights and music magically being turned on, ghost-like apparitions, and more. These events spooked enough people to warrant bringing in professional ghost hunters.
Last year, a team of paranormal investigators were called in to check out the otherworldly happenings in the building. During the investigation, one especially chilling event happened in the projection room of the theatre. The lead investigator asked the spirit in the only climate-controlled room in the building, to change the temperature. The temperature went from 70 degrees up to 78 degrees, then down to 68 degrees, the preferred temperature for the room.
Long after Halloween is over, these spooky spirits remain, with sightings year-round. Check out the sites for yourself. The next time you smell lavender, it just may be the Lavender Lady welcoming you to Washington County.
(Parts of this post were originally published October 2010)