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Another Portland Blog

Monday, June 08, 2009

 

And castles made of stone, fade into the West Hills, eventually




I drove past this sad scene about a week ago and immediately assumed that there had to be a good story behind it. After all, who would tear down a perfectly good medieval bachelor pad in the West Hills?

Somebody who wants the property but isn't interested in investing tons of cash in a doomed housing project, naturally. A recent article in The Oregonian offers this rundown:

It's called Canterbury Castle, the iconic West Hills home that includes a moat, a drawbridge and a turret. But given its troubled history, the place probably should be renamed the "Canterbury Curse."

The original owner, who built the castle on spec in 1931, couldn't sell it and went bankrupt. A recent owner spent $200,000 to reinforce the walls, then gave up when she couldn't afford the repairs required by the city.

The current owner, who bought the castle for $280,000 in April after the bank foreclosed on it, has decided enough is enough. Stone by stone, Robert Stansel is razing the landmark that once drew paying tourists and suburban schoolchildren on field trips.


A moat? A drawbridge? It's sad to see Canterbury Castle coming down but, in this economy, it makes sense that any local eccentric, mad scientist, wicked witch or playboy vampire crazy enough to buy it could never afford to keep the place up.

But Canterbury is still only one of at least two castles that can be found up there. There's an even stranger story behind Mt. Gleall Castle, which overlooks Portland State University. Here's what KATU had to say about this one in an article published last October:


Portland industrialist Charles Henry Piggott was a man of many interesting beliefs. He believed doctors should be paid only if their patients were well, that lazy people should be ground up into fertilizer and that bathing more than once a month could be fatal. But his lasting, and strangest, impression upon Portland is his Mt. Gleall Castle, which sits on Buckingham Avenue in the West Hills, overlooking Portland State University.

Piggott designed the castle and built it in 1892 without the benefit of right angles or consistent shapes between rooms. His favorite room was what he called his "sanctum sanctorum," which sat atop the home's turret and was a room from which women were excluded. After only a year in the home, Piggott was forced to move out, as he couldn't afford to live there any longer.

For years afterward, Piggott's castle sat empty and was explored by kids who often claimed to have encountered paranormal occurrences there, and the home gained a reputation as being haunted. In 1920, Piggott claimed that no occupants of the home that he built can be happy there, as they will be tormented by his spirit guardians who curse his beloved castle.


Woah. I wonder who owns Piggott's old pad these days.

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