McMenamins Edgefield

Posted by dev_admin in Portland Ghost Tours
McMenamins Edgefield - Photo

The Haunted History of McMenamins Edgefield

Located at scenic 2126 SW Halsey St near the Columbia river sits the mysterious McMenamins Edgefield. Edgefield is a hotspot, not only for Portland locals, but for ghostly activity! The structure dates all the way back to 1911. During this time, counties within the state of Oregon began to suffer from an overwhelming amount of poverty stricken families. These families suffered from sickness, lack of affordable housing, as well as a number of other issues. Rather than letting these families gather in the streets, the state decided to create “territorial legislature” in 1854. This meant that each county would be responsible for its homeless population. They called these places “poor houses” but the idea originated in England where they first called them “Workhouses.” These workhouses came before the “poor laws” during a time when each district, or parish, maintained simple farms and roads. Poor people were seen as “deplorables” who were in desperate need of prayer and reform. At a workhouse, whole families were expected to follow a strict schedule of manual labor or face punishment from a church official. These farms became common in the West starting around the 19th century. They often produced wheat, corn, and kept livestock, all of which would sustain the farm’s population. Because many of the residents were also sick, it was of the utmost importance to keep up with the housekeeping. Residents, who were able, not only did the necessary chores but also took care of the disabled residents who couldn’t clean themselves. State law continued this tradition for many years up until the Social Security Act came into law in 1935. Many of these institutions fell into disrepair over time and most completely disappeared by 1950. The last remaining workhouse is the Wellington County House of Industry and Refuge in Ontario, Canada. The Ontario workhouse, opened in 1877, accommodated well over fifteen thousand poor, homeless families, elderly, and disabled people. The Wellington County House of Industry and Refuge became a museum in 1975 where it can still be visited today. 


Edgefield, or Multnomah County Poor Farm, helped Portland and the surrounding cities with their poor population for most of the early twentieth century. Due to the rapidly growing population, in 1934, an infirmary was added to the building. By that time, there were almost seven-hundred people living on the farm. More land was purchased and encompassed more than 350 acres at the time of purchase. In 1939, another round of expansions took place. The new additions included a doctor’s apartment, industrial waste incinerator, sprinkler system, and a sunroom. In the late 1940s, the Multnomah County Poor Farm became the Multnomah County Home and Farm. Even though very shortly after the name change, in the late 1950s, the farm no longer produced grain goods. The name changed again around the 1960s to Edgefield Manor. The buildings and the surrounding land became used primarily as a nursing home and an institution for mentally ill children. In 1964, the whole area became known as the Edgefield Center. County commissioners felt that the name fit the use of the area better than previous names. Eventually, after an estimate for renovations totaling over four-hundred thousand dollars, the county decided it would be best to close down Edgefield. Many of the patients at the facility had passed away but a couple of them remained. Those patients were moved to different facilities across Oregon in 1982. Eventually, the building became vacant and fell into disrepair. A couple of years later, county officials cleared all of the remaining buildings from Edgefield except for the main building. Because of the lack of renovations, the county realized that selling the land itself, rather than the buildings, would be a smarter financial decision. Community members did not like the idea of destroying the buildings because it would be the same as destroying historical sites. County commissioners decided to listen to the community and Edgefield remained intact.  In the early 1990s, Edgefield became a historical landmark and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. During this time the McMenamins brothers purchased the land and its buildings from the county. The McMenamins restored the surrounding buildings and recreational areas at Edgefield. Today it features a restaurant, garden, movie theater, golf course, concert area, and is rentable for weddings. 




Many Portlanders know the McMenamins name because of all of the restoration work they have done. The McMenamins brothers own many historical locations throughout Portland, Oregon. Many of these locations are on the National Register of Historic Places. They own pubs, breweries, music venues, concert halls, hotels, and theaters. The oldest known renovation to take place because of the McMenamins dates back to 1974 with the grand opening of the Produce Row Cafe. In 1985, near Southwest Portland, the brothers opened the first brewpub. The Mission Theater and Pub, which opened in 1987, became the first theater pub in all of Oregon. This is where the McMenamins’ name began to gain traction. Soon they entered the hotel business and acquired Edgefield. Now it is one of the highest rated historical locations in Oregon. As of 2018, the McMenamins company owns and operates fifty-five different locations. 


The Ghosts of Edgefield

As a poor house, Edgefield saw hundreds and hundreds of people in its day. According to Portland locals, after the McMenamins bought Edgefield they performed a “spirit” cleansing. A spirit cleansing is a way to get rid of evil spirits but during the cleansing they found something strange– animal bones in room 215. Weirder still, the animal bones had been arranged in the shape of a large pentagram. So, It comes as no surprise that many guests report strange energy around the building. There are many stories of unmarked graves on the property and some of them just might be true. One of the stories is about a new mother whose child died from chickenpox. The mother and child were reportedly buried on the property and it seems that even in death they remain at Edgefield. According to one guest, the woman can be heard on the upper floors trying to calm her crying child. Staff report that she sings nursery rhymes almost every night at midnight. The rhymes, commented one guest, are “soothing.” Most guests and staff seem to be completely at ease with this ghost. Unfortunately, not all the ghosts at Edgefield are so welcoming. On one stormy night, a guest reported to the management that she felt as if someone was watching her in her room. The manager promptly followed the woman back to her room where he did a thorough search. Just before the manager turned to leave the room both he and the guest heard a voice say, “Get out!” The woman felt so uncomfortable that she insisted on switching to a different room. The manager reported that he felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. 

Other guests report feeling ghostly hands pushing on their shoulders, back, and chest. Often times when they are ascending or descending stairs guests hear whispers and when they turn around there is no one there. One staff member, who was helping a guest to their room, felt a slight push on her back as she was coming down the stairs. She reported that it was one of the “scariest” experiences of her life! Many reports are of an elderly woman who wakes guests in the middle of the night by tapping them on the shoulder. People often smell her flowery perfume just before she wakes them. Staff say that she is among the friendlier ghosts at Edgefield but to be wary of her temper. Guests who leave room 215 in disarray upset the elderly woman. She has been known to lash out by flinging guests’ clothing about the room and sometimes out the window!  

Others report a small child racing down the hallway at all hours of the night. When guests approach the child to scold him or to ask where his parents are he disappears into a thin mist. Although there are many different reports of haunted activity at Edgefield guests report feeling comfortable and generally enjoy their stay. It is not known exactly what is going on at McMenamins Edgefield but whatever is going on you can be sure it is strange! Whether you are interested in recreational activities, good concerts, or an amazing restaurant experience– you can be sure to find everything you are looking for at Edgefield!

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