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After ten years of hustle and bustle in Los Angeles, I have come to the quaint little town of Astoria, Oregon in search of some tranquility and self-exploration. With the captivating beauty of the Columbia River as a backdrop (and many rainy days) I am excited to spend time improving on my cooking skills, growing a garden and finally getting around to those creative projects I have put aside for so long.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Haunting in Astoria


Ok, so this post is not exactly about a specific haunting. However, being that Astoria is the oldest settlement in the western United States, the town has it's fair share of ghostly history. Take the home of Captain George Flavel for example. Built in 1886 by Astoria's first millionaire (Captain Flavel), the house is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of his daughter Katie who died in the home in 1910. There are also reports that the ghost of the captain himself, who also died in the home in 1893, makes an occasional appearance in the hallways of this 19th century mansion. Whether haunted or not, this almost 12,000 square foot home, which today is a museum, offers visitors a unique look into the past. With help from the Clatsop County Historical Society, this Victorian home has been restored using many of the original furnishings to give visitors an idea of what life was like for Captain Flavel and his family in the late19th/early 20th century. On my last visit to the home, I photographed the various rooms and will share those pictures in this post.

As I stepped into the house, the first thing I noticed is that the entrance doesn't lead into a "room" but instead into a long hallway that runs to the back of the house and divides various rooms on the left and right. On the left side of the house there is a large room with several seating areas and a piano, this is known as the Music Room.

As you can read in the room's description above, this room served as a "double parlor room." The actual parlor room is directly across from the music room on the right side of the hallway and is referred to as the Formal Parlor. 

This is one of the less interesting rooms in the home, in my opinion. As you proceed further down the hall to the far end of the Music Room there is a portrait of Captain Flavel.

Quite a beard on him. This was probably the style back then, although from what I've seen here in Astoria and Oregon in general the bushy wild looking facial hair has never really been out of fashion around these parts. Directly across the hall from the portrait is by far my favorite room in the house; the Library.

This is my favorite room in the house not merely because I like books, but instead because of the dark cozy atmosphere created by the dark colors and inviting furniture.

I really love this room and despite rumors that this is one of the "haunted" rooms where people claim to have seen the ghost of Captain Flavel, I feel I could spend many hours curled up with a good book on that chair.

As you make your way to the end of the hallway there is another entrance to the home on the right side. On the left side you have the dining room. 

The room is very large with multiple small tables surrounding one large formal dining table. Despite its size I do not get the feeling of "grandness" I would have expected from this room. 

I'm sure that my slight disappointment comes from the bare bones presentation of this room's furnishings. I can only imagine the room was much more extravagant during some of the lavish dinner parties thrown by the Flavel family.

Further past the end of the hallway and the dining room is a section at the rear of the house where the Kitchen, Mud Room and Pantry are located.

As to be expected, this room was all about functionality and it is likely no one outside the servants ever came to this part of the house. 

Very cool stove. At the time I'm sure there was nothing special about this appliance, but I find the simple and straightforward design quite elegant and I wouldn't mind having one of these in my own home. 

This, on the other hand I will pass on. Yes, this is a washing machine! It's no wonder people had so few outfits back then. If you ever find yourself complaining about laundry just be reminded of this contraption and you'll be more than happy to drop your clothes in your Maytag and simply hit the start button.  

As we reach the top of the stairs we find another long hallway that divides various bedrooms on each side. This hallway is another rumored hangout spot for the ghosts of Captain Flavel and his daughter Katie. I didn't get much of an otherworldly vibe. 

 At the foot of the hallway is a very important room. The bathroom of course! 

Here is the toilet. Yes that square block of wood on the left is a toilet. This was shared by everyone on the 2nd floor. As primitive as this may seem to you and I, this was in fact considered a grand luxury back then, even for the richest family in Astoria. 

Next to the toilet is the bath. One thing you'll quickly notice is there is no shower. Another thing you may or may not notice is that the bathtub is tiny! I've seen children today who probably couldn't fit in this tub. But then again, you have to remember this was before McDonalds and genetically modified food, people were much smaller. Next to the bathroom is a children's room. 

I"m actually not sure whether any children ever lived at this home, but if they had, the room would have looked something like in the pictures above. 

As you proceed down the hallway, the first room on the right is the Guest Bedroom. 

The room is very minimal but quite large, complete with a crib for guests with small children.

As you go out the door and down the hall, the next room on the right is another one of the rooms rumored to be haunted. This is the room where Captain Flavel's daughter Katie passed away.

The only scary thing about this room is how small that bed is. I would never get any sleep! I think I'd rather sleep on this awesome couch pictured below (also in Katie's room)

At the far end of the room, there is a small hallway that connects Katie's room to her sister Nellie's room. I was not able to get a picture of this small "hallway" connecting the two rooms, but in it, there is a small sink that was shared by the two girls.

As you can immediately see, Nellie's room was noticeably larger, and in my opinion, more tastefully laid out. She even has her own closet! 

You can't see in the pictures, but if you look up close you can see that all of Nellie's clothes came directly from Paris. I'm sure they were all very expensive.

Nellie's room is at the far end of the hallway and the door to her room is directly across from her mother's room, Mary Christina Boelling, Captain Flavel's wife. 

As was customary in those times, husband and wife often did not sleep in the same bed let alone the same room.

The bedroom is nicely laid out, complete with a sitting area in the corner. Behind the couch there are  large bay windows with magnificent views of the Columbia River and the whole town of Astoria.

Again, there is no bathroom in the room, but she did have a sink to get ready for bed at night and wash up in the morning. The room is connected to her husband's room by a large door that locks from both sides.

As you step into the Captain's room, the first thing you notice is the bed. The exact bed he died on.

I have to say the energy definitely felt a bit different in this room. I'm not saying the room is necessarily haunted, but I also wouldn't be opposed to sage-ing the room if this were my home.

If there are ghosts in this house, this is the room you'd find them. I must have stared at his rocking chair a good five minutes expecting to see it move on its own. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed that it didn't.

Finally, we get a peek into Captain Flavel's closet. Once again, I was amazed by how small his suits were, he couldn't have been more than five feet four inches tall. I guess that explains why he built such a small bathtub.

There is another level above the 2nd floor, but unfortunately, due to safety regulations visitors are unable to go up there. Likewise, the basement is off limits to visitors, so in reality you only get to see about half the house. Regardless, getting the chance to even step into this home is a unique experience. I highly recommend it be added to the itinerary of anyone passing through this town.

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