Opening stairway to Hotel deLuxe. Many people and ghosts have ascended these stairs over the decades. Photo by Joseph Howitt.

Content Warning: This article contains mentions of suicide.

The famous “Keep Portland Weird” message may have dissipated slightly throughout the last decade, that being said, Portland still contains some pretty weird mysteries. Many of them are housed downtown, where the oldest parts of the city lie, and some very interesting histories unfold by simply walking through the area. While downtown, it’s easy to notice the large number of hotels that line the streets amongst the high rises. Many of these hotels are over 100 years old. It’s not a stretch to surmise that at least a couple are haunted. 

The Heathman Hotel and Hotel deLuxe have both allegedly been dealing with supernatural spirits for around 80 years. This article serves as a review of the documented paranormal history of these hotels, as they have some very interesting and frightening stories that the public may not know.

Hotel deLuxe, originally opened as The Hotel Mallory, was commissioned in 1912 by Rufus Mallory, a native New Yorker who moved to Portland in search of an area to open a hotel. As I spoke with Brandie, Piper, and Sam at the front desk of the hotel, they informed me of different instances where guests have complained about unnatural occurrences near their rooms. According to the recorded history that was given to me via a packet from the front desk, Mallory died just two years after the hotel opened to the public. His wife, Lucy Mallory, died in 1920. The families of previous guests believed Mrs. Mallory would hold seances in the parlor of the hotel (which is now a vacant room) and claimed to be a psychic. It seems Mrs. Mallory was no stranger to the supernatural, and in turn, familiarized the people that frequented the hotel before her death. Whether there are leftover spirits from their seances, unfortunate deaths in the hotel, or perhaps a mix of the two, many instances of “ghost sightings” are reported here. 

One of these sightings was even witnessed by an employee at the hotel. Former head of operations, Romel Alcantara, stated, “ I was walking down the seventh-floor hallway, and as I passed the main stairwell, I noticed a shadow walking down the stairs. Curious about what I saw, I went to check who it was. As soon as I opened the stairwell door, no one was there.” 

Other cases of “shadow figures” have been reported and Sam from the front desk shared how most rooms at the hotel seem to turn increasingly creepy as the night progresses. She showed me a video she took on her phone of a television being turned on and off in one of the event rooms, as the lights were dimmed. Seeing this firsthand, I started to realize that there might be some truth behind the claims of paranormal activities. The packet states that another source of “mysterious experiences” is Room 209. Former housekeepers did not enjoy cleaning that room, and experiences included lights being turned on and off, small items being moved, and soft, ghostly touches. One frequent guest claimed that as he was entering Room 708, he saw an outline of a woman with “long hair and a vintage dress.”  Then, the figure vanished, and the guest quickly reported it to the front desk.

The Heathman Hotel also has a very long list of ghost sightings and bizarre activity. According to Rob St. Helen, who was a night auditor and the author of a packet of various sightings and stories from the hotel, many people tried to let him know about the creepy things going on. Examples of these incidents include a “shadow man” coming off the elevator in the 8th floor, and the grand piano (which is no longer housed at the Heathman) being played late at night while the night staff are upstairs. Many times, workers have reported hearing the piano being played by someone, only to find that no one is there. 

The Heathman is 96 years old, with a lot of famous guests visiting the hotel throughout the decades. However, that doesn’t stop them from being plagued with supernatural sightings. The history behind the ghosts and shadow people at Heathman can be linked to the first years of its existence, when certain patrons faced unfortunate ends in their rooms, primarily on the 7th floor. According to hotel legend, a long time ago in Room 703, a guest threw himself from their 7th floor window and died (yes, pretty cliche). After that, many of the odd things reported to the front desk were happening in Room 703. One guest reported that the television in the room kept turning on when they were in the shower. Another time, guests reported towels being thrown around their rooms and footsteps running past their rooms in the middle of the night. The reason most employees at this hotel believe in the haunted past is due to the number of times the same complaint about Room 703 has been given.

Regarding the “paranormal past,” it’s very likely that most of the haunted aspects of the tunnel’s history were made up in an effort to bring more tourists. The tunnels were originally used as a path to bring materials for ships across town, avoiding the busy streets. Additionally, there was heavy use during the Prohibition Era when alcohol and other supplies were secretly brought to bars and saloons in Portland and every bar downtown had a pathway underground, so this investigation turned into a dead end. 

Many Portlanders are no strangers to hearing about the Shanghai Tunnels, which have turned into more of a tourist attraction. The Shanghai Tunnels have been stated to be the location for many different kidnappings, as it was believed that sailors and bar-goers were dropped through trap doors, carried through the tunnels, and ended up on ships, doing manual labor. This haunted and dark past has contributed to the popularity, with many people visiting expecting to see some sort of creepy behavior along the miles of tunnels. 

Although Portland is not the oldest city on the West Coast, it certainly has no shortage of buildings and places whose haunted pasts have been passed down through legend. Many Portland inhabitants like Brandie, Piper, and Sam have seen things firsthand that would indicate some truth behind the ghosts of the past. “[The Hotel deLuxe] is 110 years old, I’m sure there was something to create whatever was haunting this place in that time period,” said Brandie. I would suggest going to visit these historical locations to potentially experience hauntings for yourself; hopefully you can make it out alive.

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