The Benson Hotel

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

The Haunted History of the Benson Hotel


The Benson Hotel, located at 309 SW Broadway street, is one of Portland’s finest hotels. Nestled in Portland’s beautiful downtown area, the Benson sits across from the Willamette River. The Benson Hotel is a beacon for artists and authors alike. Named after Simon Benson, the businessman and philanthropist, the Benson is the seventh largest hotel in Portland. This 287 room hotel is not only a world-class hotel but is also a historic landmark. In 1905, Simon Benson hired the firm Doyle, Patterson and Beach to design the building. The firm used an elaborate French Empire style which used the Blackstone Hotel, in Chicago, as inspiration. On March 5, 1913, after eight years of hard labor, the hotel opened its doors to the public. Sixteen months after opening, Simon Benson took over management of the hotel. After six years Benson decided to sell the hotel to William Boyd and Robert Keller in 1919. The hotel changed hands many times after Boyd and Keller. In 1959 the hotel underwent an extensive renovation. Workers attached extensions to the walls and built 175 guest rooms. The Western International Hotel company bought the Benson in 1981. In 1986 the Benson was registered on the National Register of Historic Places. During this time it underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. Later, in 1990, a 17 million dollar renovation took place which insured the hotel would keep its premiere customers happy. Many notable guests have passed through its doors, including the Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell. Mitchell died in his room at the Benson on November 12, 2008. Reporters said that he died in his sleep of natural causes. Today, the Benson Hotel is one of Portland’s most cherished historic buildings. The hotel continues to exceed expectations! A guest will experience luxurious European designed rooms with the best amenities. It comes as no surprise that many United States presidents and fortune five-hundred CEOs prefer the Benson over other hotels in the area. Consistently the hotel receives top scores on their reviews because of their outstanding service staff. Some amazing features of the Benson are two giant ballrooms, which are used for conferences, weddings, and parties. An extensive exercise room that is available for use 24hrs a day, free high speed internet, pet friendly rooms, luxury beds, mini-bars, and even Starbucks delivered straight to the room! Guests can also make their way down to the Palm Court Restaurant and Lounge. It’s the finest Northwest food around! The Benson Hotel topped the Best Portland Hotels List in 2012 because of its breathtaking location and comfortable environment. There is always plenty to do if you are planning a stay at the Benson Hotel. Located in the beautiful Pearl district, guests can take a short walk to any of Portland’s best bars, restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries. Concerts, performances, and shows are found in the Rose Quarter, also in walking distance from the hotel. If nature is what you’re into the Washington Park is a short bike ride away! 


The Resident Ghost Simon Benson 


Simon Benson, born in Oppland county Norway, had a large family. Benson had many siblings, seven in total. In 1861, his elder brother immigrated to the United States. 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 a lot of experience working with timber in Wisconsin and people said he took to it like a duck on water. Benson had two more daughters, Alice and Caroline, with his wife in 1891. Sadly, that same year, Esther passed away from tuberculosis. In those days it took two people to raise children so Simon remarried in 1894. Together, they had two more children, Gilbert and Chester. Benson entered into a long cycle of prosperity after his third business venture. He entered into business with some loggers near Clatskanie, Oregon and Oak Point, Washington. He decided to buy out as many tracts of timber as he could. Benson made many changes to Northwest logging including introducing the donkey steam engine. The donkey steam engine replaced the oxen which hauled logs using a powerful winch system. Simon Benson also invented a seagoing log raft called the Benson Raft. The raft could transport millions of timber logs through the open ocean. This revolutionized the way logging companies transported timber because it cut the cost of transporting logs to California. In 1898, Benson 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 city 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.


Only the most adventurous should spend the night at the Benson Hotel! It is 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 lumberjacks attire instead of his fine suit. An employee working 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 in 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! 


There are a number of 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. There are many different ghosts in the Benson Hotel but don’t worry, they are all friendly! Planning a say at the Benson? Be sure to say hello to the late Simon Benson for us!                     

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