The Benson Hotel

Posted by dev_admin in Portland Ghost Tours
The Benson Hotel - Photo

The Benson Hotel, located at 309 SW Broadway Street, is one of Portland’s finest hotels. The Benson sits across from the Willamette River in Portland’s beautiful downtown area and is a beacon for artists and authors alike. 

Named after the businessman and philanthropist Simon Benson, the Benson is the seventh-largest hotel in Portland and a world-class historic landmark. In 1905, Simon Benson hired Doyle, Patterson, and Beach to design the 287-room hotel. On March 5, 1913, after eight years of hard labor, the French Empire-style building opened its doors to the public. 

What happened at the Benson Hotel?

Many notable guests have passed through its doors, including the Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell. Mitchell reportedly died of natural causes in his room at the Benson on November 12, 2008. Today, the Benson Hotel is one of Portland’s most cherished historic buildings and one of the most haunted. Keep reading to learn more. To visit the most places in Portland, book a ghost tour with Portland Ghosts!


The Rise of Simon Benson 


Simon Benson, born in Oppland County, Norway, had a large family with seven siblings. In 1861, his elder brother immigrated to the United States, and Mathea, his sister, followed their brother in 1865. Not long after they immigrated to the United States, his parents realized that they wanted to be with their other children. In 1867, the family reunited in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. 

Benson, known then as Bergersen, arrived in the United States at the young age of 16. Once the family had their naturalization papers, changed their family name, and found lodging, they were officially United States citizens. Simon Benson got his first job as a farmhand and then as a logger at a nearby sawmill. 

In Wisconsin, at the age of twenty-four, Benson opened a general store. The store was incredibly popular before a fire destroyed the building three years later. Simon, twenty-seven at the time, had no money saved and became worried his family would go hungry. Benson had a wife, Esther, and a son named Amos to feed, and he needed something quick. After looking high and low, Simon found work in Portland, Oregon, in 1880. 

He had extensive experience working with timber in Wisconsin, and people said he took it like a duck on water. After his third business venture, Benson entered into a long cycle of prosperity. In 1898, he moved with his family and business back to Portland. 

As a wealthy man, Simon Benson contributed to the betterment of the city. He donated thousands of dollars to the town for drinking fountains, road work, and public parks. Simon Benson’s legacy is still felt in Portland today. In 1999, in honor of Benson, an award for pioneers and philanthropists was created. People who make a long-lasting impact on Portland, like Simon Benson, receive the award.


The Ghost of Simon Benson

Only the most adventurous should spend the night at the Benson Hotel, one of the most haunted hotels in America. The most famous haunting is by none other than Simon Benson himself. Benson is found on the 7th, 9th, and 12th floors of the Benson Hotel. Reports of paranormal activity from guests state that Benson is seen descending the main staircase. 

He is described as well-groomed and wearing a formal suit. Many guests have seen his ghost roaming the common area of the hotel and the bar. In the bar, Benson is reportedly seen knocking drinks out of guests’ hands. Benson never liked drinking and, even in death, is not shy about it. Benson reportedly changes outfits, donning a lumberjack attire instead of his fine suit.

An employee in the formal dining room reported to her manager that she saw Benson walk into the room. He motioned for her to move and then disappeared into thin air! Others have reported seeing him during meetings in the conference rooms. Most people say they feel no fear from Benson because he just stands there watching. Guests report glasses in the bar going missing, bottles being upturned, and patrons being tapped on the shoulder. 

When they turn around, no one is there, not even a staff member. Staff members report that Simon Benson is reportedly seen with a little boy. The little boy is also spotted on the 9th floor most of the time. People assume it is the ghost of one of Benson’s sons who couldn’t be separated from his father even after his death. 

The boy is seen behind bedside tables, where he then will jump out at guests. Guests feel no menace from the boy; they see him as a mischievous ghost who just wants to play. Staff members usually leave out candy and toys for the boy in hopes that he will say hello! 

Haunted Portland


There are several ghosts at the Benson Hotel. Many of them are gentle souls who just want to make their presence known. One of which is a helpful porter who enjoys helping disabled guests and leading people down the stairs with his hand. The Lady in White is seen as the apparition of a woman in a long white dress. 

She usually walks through the corridors of the hotel, her purse in hand, as if she is late for something. There is also the Lady in Blue, who appears as a woman wearing a bright turquoise dress. She is most often seen in hotel mirrors in the downstairs lobby. 

The Benson Hotel is only one of many places known for its haunted reputation in Portland. To discover Portland’s most haunted locations, book a ghost tour with Portland Ghosts. For more macabre tales, check out our blog, and be sure to follow US Ghost Adventures on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok for more spooky content from around the nation.