The University of Portland
5000 N Willamette Blvd.
Portland, OR 97203

The University of Portland is known as 'Oregon's Catholic University'.  It's doors were opened in 1901 to 56 boys and 8 teacher/priests.  There are now 2,900 students and 240 professors.  It is ranked as one of the Top 10 schools in the West by U.S. News and World Report and is known internationally for it's engineering department.

The preceding information is from the school website.  What is not mentioned in their text is the history of haunting which predates the academy by many centuries.

I have been meaning to do this story for many years.  My hesitance was due, in part, to the variety of paranormal energies in the structures and surrounding grounds.  This is a bluff against The Willamette River with a strategic southern view.  It is at the very end of the great Willamette Valley and was the perfect location for a Native American village.  There is the possibility of psychic activity associated with these Indians, as well as activity relevant to the university.

The following is from a former student:

"Regarding experiences and stories on the bluff...I have a few."

"In Christie hall...the second building built on the campus, there are supposedly ghosts in the basement.  Now, as a freshman, I lived in the basement in an old classroom converted to a dorm.  Every year, UP has a fall break, and a lot of the students go home.  Well, I happened to be the only person left in the basement that one weekend, and there was some weird vibes in that place.  I wouldn't say I am psychic or anything, but I think I pick up on things if you know what I mean.  Anyway, I spent the night down there alone...and I heard the blinds in my room moving around as if someone was peeking through each one of them.  And, I had the strangest sensation that someone or something was sitting on our couch watching me sleep.  Anyway, the next day I asked the hall director if there were any reports of hauntings on campus in general and he told me outright that Christie was haunted.  I asked him if anything tragic had happened in the dorm and he told me that the basement used to be the infirmary for the old dying priests on campus when that was the only other building on campus.  He said that exorcisms were also performed in the now laundry room.  (I'm not sure I believe that one).  Anyway, he said people have had experiences of feeling breezes go past them without any windows or doors open for a gust to come in through."

"Now, in Kenna hall...where I stayed my sophomore year...there is supposedly a ghost from the oldest building, Waldschmidt hall, that moved into Kenna after the remodel in Waldschmidt.  It is supposedly the ghost of a young boy who drowned in the Willamette when UP was a boarding school back in the late 1800's.  I was told that in 1997 one of the RAs was doing his laundry in the basement during spring break when he saw the boy.  He was carrying his laundry up the stairs which has a landing and switches back on itself so that as you ascend the second flight, you can look down the first flight.  The doors also have those gas hinges on the top to prevent the door from slamming shut.  Well, anyway he was going up the stairs, got to the landing and heard the door slam shut.  He turned around to look down the first stairs and saw a young boy looking up at him.  The boy's hair was wet and so were his clothes, and his skin was bloated from being submersed in water.  Of course this freaked the guy out and he ran up the stairs and then turned back to look and the boy was gone.  Weird.  Again, something I was TOLD, not experienced."

"Other buildings supposedly haunted that I don't know the stories to is Waldschmidt, and the Engineering building.  There is definitely something out there on the bluff too.  Having gone out there late at night by myself to enjoy a good cigar, I always feel I'm being watched by something from the wooded area."

Another person who is 'in the know' offers more information:

"Well let's just say that I am in a position or was in a position that allowed me to hear stories about our haunted buildings on campus. Granted the buildings that are mentioned on your website include Kenna Hall, Waldschmidt (West) Hall, Christie Hall and the Mago Hunt Theatre building all having stories of ghostly activities. However the University Commons, (commissary,) located on the southwest side of campus overlooking the bluff has to be the most haunted of them all. This excerpt was taken off the university website, but I must add that it is tough to find."

  "The University purchased additional property as it became available. The 'Melvin Tract', on the southwest side of today's Bluff near the Commons, was owned by the irascible Frank Houston. No fan of the black-robed men of Holy Cross, he referred to the priests as "old black crows" and refused to sell his property to the congregation for a reasonable price. His widow finally sold the tract to the University in the 1930s after Houston died. Tradition has it that Frank Houston is one of the several "ghosts" haunting the campus; his perpetually cranky spirit is said to pace the line where his fence once stood, shaking its preternatural fist and shouting, "You old black crows!""

  "Now here are some of the odd occurrences that I have heard about. Employees working alone at night have been chased through the dining area by push carts moving on their own. Pots, pans, kitchen utensils, food items have been thrown onto the floor by some unseen hands. A radio located in the Priests dining room with turn on and off even the tuning dial will turn. Pictures will shake on the walls. Some people have even heard a voice yell in their ear as they make their way up the stairs from the basement area. There is an alleged photo of the Commons ghost that was located in the Campus museum but I believe it is now in the archives. It seems that Frank Houston is still a little upset."

  "This may be something worth looking into."

 

Kenna Hall, Christie Hall, Waldschmidt Hall, the University Commons, the bluff and the Engineering Building.... a very active campus with many tales to tell.  And what of the Native Indians and their ghostly influence?  Perhaps it is coincidence but consider the following missive from a resident who lives just a stones throw from the campus:

"Yes, Willamette Ln. runs the same way as Princeton.  There are only 8 or so houses on the lane.  The cross street on the far end is N. Wall Ave.  The lane makes a semi-circle around and connects to Willamette Blvd. on our end."

"The black shadow has no shape as such, it is straight up and down, vertical.  It seems to have a presence. It moves from left to right always starting from the center of the family room windows.  It is just outside the window.  You see it move quickly, and at the corner where the windows come together at a 90 degree angle you expect it to continue but it is gone."

"This always happens at night.  These windows are on the backside of the house that face the river.  Once my husband was telling a group of older teenagers in the family room about the shadow and one guy, who was almost asleep sat straight up and said he seen it too!  He was afraid somebody would think he was crazy so he never mentioned it. My husband, two of four children and I have seen It."

"I have seen it on the front side of the house four or five times.  I have seen the shadow there in the day time as well as at night.  It always goes to the west."

What could this be..... shadow people, stick figures..... two dimensional beings in our world?  I checked with American Indians.... they do not wish to discuss it, feeling a possible threat and better left alone.  Ancient ancestors?  Jinn?  Like so much of the ghostly realm, it remains a mystery to mortals.

A few graphics for your enjoyment:


Waldschmidt and Kenna Halls
Map of the UofP



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