Research Assistants! in Everyday Ramblings

  • Aug. 28, 2020, 6:19 p.m.
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Just in case there was any confusion about it being the end of summer here…

Here is a brief description of what I have found out so far about the beautiful historic mystery house at the end of a dead-end about a mile from where I live.

(btw: I had help! Kes and Most Honorable took up the research challenge and we had fun yesterday morning comparing notes and filling in gaps. Most Honorable is coming up on Thursday for more field exploration. Kes is coming up tomorrow to hang out and allow the cats to walk all over her.)

The house was built in 1890 but burned not so long after and then was fully rebuilt. There is a house with a historic landmark designation that was built in 1893 that is not clearly currently visible from either the dead-end or the street below. The only access to that house is a public stairway that I did not find even though I looked.

I found the address of the house in question and the interesting thing is that both these houses have addresses on a street that doesn’t exist. It exists elsewhere. No, they did not move the street, it was completely covered over in a landslide in 1911. The hill was clear cut at the time and well, this is the Pacific Northwest. It rains here. A bit of greedy human folly there.

“My” house is now split into 5 condos. They are gorgeous but there is a shared laundry that might be problematic during a pandemic. (I am so grateful I have my own washer and dryer right now, such an intense luxury.)

The youngest of nine children who lived in the historic house (the Catherine White House) was born in 1904 in the tower of “my” house. Her father was a lumberman and mill owner and that family eventually moved to California. I have seen a picture of her gravestone there.

Why she was born in the mansion across the street and slightly uphill is a mystery.

The architect of both houses is not known. Who built and lived in “my” house is also unknown.

Our library has a searchable archive of the Oregonian newspaper going back to 1857 and I admit I spent a bit too long reading the society page from back in the day yesterday afternoon. I do enjoy old gossip.

At some point I will write a poem about the house and the tower. It speaks to me in that way that is impossible to explain. It is a feeling.

Last time I was over at the Sherlock’s house Mr. Sherlock read three of my poems aloud to me from my original chapbook. It was a fascinating exercise and slightly unnerving. But it brought the poems alive to me in a surprising way, seeing them through his eyes and my own.

I spent a couple of rainy November afternoons on my own meditating on the small chairs in Notre Dame about 25 years ago. One day there was a mass, celebrating those that fought in WWI. It all just assembled around me and I sat through it and shook the hand of the ancient veteran that took the chair next to me. I wrote a small poem about it.

Now after the fire and with the epidemic I don’t even know if visitors can go there. But I was hearing a few years ago that visitors had to wait hours to get in.

The poem is a description of that afternoon, but Mr. Sherlock thought it had a deeper meaning. And we talked about the freedom to interpret a piece of art in one’s own way based on one’s life experience and point of view.

He likes Auden. I am going over Sunday and will bring Auden. Mr. Finch’s copy.

The weather is cooling down a bit for the weekend and then spiking hot hot hot again starting Tuesday. On Monday Charity and I are going for a hike on some local trails where a group of owls have been seen.

In the meantime, though I have three library books to read! I better get cracking.

woman in the moon August 28, 2020 (edited August 28, 2020)


I love love love the Notre Dame story. It gives me a connection to the fabulous place through you. The Mass with its deep deep purpose assembling around you and then dissipating as simply is beautiful. I wonder about that place. I wonder about fires. I'm reading Doris L East's bio of Emilia Earhart - the Rye NY Putman home burned (and I believe was rebuilt like your house above)and a lot of her papers, etc. were lost - including a folder of her poems that she had carried from hither to yon .... like Hemingway's early manuscripts that Hadley left on the train - except of course Earhart wasn't a poet exactly.

mcbee August 29, 2020

I love your neighborhood explorations and that you researched the house!

Jinn August 30, 2020

That is truly interesting about that house . I had a strange experience walking into The Tower House in the Missouri Botanical Garden for the first time. I felt like I was coming home . I knew where everything was and objects in it seemed very familiar . It was the strongest case of Dejavu I have ever experienced.

noko Jinn ⋅ August 30, 2020

That must have been eerie. This is a link to a Wikipedia post on my favorite castle house in Portland. I visited it last Sunday. You would love it!

Jinn noko ⋅ August 30, 2020


Marg noko ⋅ August 31, 2020

Oh I would so have loved exploring that house!

Marg Jinn ⋅ August 31, 2020

Ooo I wonder if that had been you in a past life? That’s so fascinating!

Jinn Marg ⋅ September 01, 2020

It was such an intense feeling that it shook me up . I was very sad leaving for no reason. It’s a lovely house ; kind of grand but overall homey .

Marg August 31, 2020

That’s so interesting that you found out so much about the house! I did that with a house about 15 miles from here once years ago - we kept seeing its ruins when we exited a small town nearby but couldn’t find it otherwise (this was before the Internet). So one day I just parked the car, tried to work out roughly where it was and crossed fields, highways and paths till I finally found it and I still remember the way I felt when I rounded a corner in some woods and it was just suddenly there! Which started a love affair with it and many hundreds of photos :) Then over the years I was able to find out a lot more about it.

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