The Haunted Remnants of the Harry Flavel House in Astoria, OR

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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

About the House

Also built by the Flavel family, the Harry Flavel House, even though it was first considered the Captain George Flavel House, is called such because of the history that followed after Harry Sherman Flavel. This house was originally owned by Captain George Conrad Flavel, then inherited by the captain’s son Harry M. Flavel where he lived with his wife Florence, and his two children Harry Sherman and Mary Louise. The status of the Flavel family, as well as respected members of the community, ended when Harry Sherman earned his Hatchet Harry nickname.

The Timeline of the Flavels, Their Houses & Fate

1893

Captain Flavel lived in the house for seven years with his wife Mary Christina Boelling and their two adult daughters, Nelli and Katie. Their son, George Conrad Flavel never resided within the George Conrad Flavel House, as he was already married and living in a house of his own. During his seventh year in the residence of the Flavel House, Captain Flavel passed away, leaving the to the family.

1901

Captain George Conrad Flavel’s son, George Conrad Flavel would build his house—the house that is now often referred to as the Harry Flavel House. George Conrad Flavel Junior had worked as a bar pilot for his father, becoming a Captain as well.

1923

Harry Melville and his first wife had three children, the middle of which—Patricia Jean Flavel—would donate the Captain George Conrad Flavel House to the Clatsop County Historical later in 1951. The two had their own home, but after Harry Melville’s father George Junior had passed away, he inherited the house. He ended up moving back into the home to stay with his mother.

1925

Harry Melville and his second wife Florence Sherman would have their first child Mary Louise.

1927

Harry Melville and Florence had their second child, Harry Sherman Flavel.

1944

Harry Melville’s mother lived in the house until she passed away.

1947

When Harry Sherman was twenty-two years old, the Flavels’ neighbor Fred Fulton heard screams of help emanating from the Flavel House—he feared that something was wrong and he burst into the home and rushed upstairs, where he found Harry’s mother, Florence screaming to be let out of the room she had been locked in. Harry Sherman proceeded to attack his neighbor with a hatchet, hitting the banister and cutting his neighbor’s arm. It was at this point that Harry earned the nickname “Hatchet Harry.”

Harry was subsequently charged with assault with a deadly weapon, but his mother Florence insisted she had been in no danger when the trial rolled around. Both Harry’s mother and sister Mary testified that their neighbor, Fred Fulton, had been drunk and broke into their home. They claimed that Harry had acted in self-defense because he had been frightened of the neighbor. The charges against Harry were eventually dropped.

1983

Thirty-six years after the incident that dubbed Harry Sherman, Hatchet Harry, he and his sister Mary Louise were still living at home with their mother Florence. Neither Harry nor Mary had gotten married and thus had no children to speak of.

Between the hatchet incident and 1983, Harry had a history of taking in stray dogs, so there were always a lot of dogs on the property—he was once accused of stealing a dog from his neighbors because Harry believed they weren’t walking it enough, but his neighbors were too scared of him to go to the Flavel house and take their dog back.

Harry was walking two dogs when a car belonging to a twenty-two-year-old Alec Josephson sped past him—Harry retaliated to the speeding by hitting the car with the dog’s chain as it went by. Driven to anger, Josephson chased Harry down an alley on foot where Harry stabbed him. Harry was charged with assault once again and was nearly sentenced to twenty years in jail, but was given probation instead.

1990

After he exhausted all of his appeals and lost, his sister Mary Louis and their mother Florence packed up and abandoned the house. Neighbors claim that the Flavel’s came back to the house several times over the years, but always called them first to be sure there weren’t any police around.

In October, Harry Sherman, Mary Louise, and their mother Florence were found in Pennsylvania where Harry was arrested for stealing hotel towels—he would have been extradited, but he and the family fled from law enforcement again.

1991

The Flavel family turned up once again in Massachusetts where Harry was arrested by the FBI and was taken back to Clatsop County where he was jailed until the hearing could take place. He ended up spending a year in jail before he was finally released and disappeared back to Massachusetts. Shortly after he was released from Clatsop County Jail, his mother Florence passed away and both of her children refused to claim her body from the morgue.

2010

Harry Sherman Flavel died at eight-two years of age on May 31 and while his sister Mary still owned the house, it remained empty—in October a black mourning bunting mysteriously appeared draped from the balcony. “Hatchet” Harry Sherman’s body remained in the morgue for nine months because Mary Louise refused to pay for a burial.

2011

The city of Astoria finally initiated proceedings to create a derelict building ordinance, in order to deal with the eye-sores of the Flavel properties. This ordinance allowed the city to impose a fine for each day that properties were in violation. After being unable to reach Mary Louise, the last remaining owner, the city began the process to have the properties forfeited, so that they would be able to take control of the properties.

2015

Eventually, a deal was made after the fines went unpaid, which allowed Mary Louise to sell the properties herself.

2017

The last of the Flavel’s dilapidated properties were finally sold, which left the family without any stake in Astoria.

Ghosts of the Harry Flavel House

The current owner, Newenhof dismisses the idea that the house is haunted, but the age of the interior and all of its facilities definitely gives the house a feeling of being stuck in the past. Aside from the vibe, there have been reports of it being haunted, but no real detailed reports of first-hand experiences.

The Haunting of Captain George Conrad Flavel House in Astoria, OR

Categories
Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

About the House

The Flavel House in Astoria, while now a museum, was once a mansion that is haunted by the spirits of those poor souls of the family who once inhabited its walls. The phantom remnants of the Flavel family have made themselves known by speaking amongst themselves—which has been reported as disembodied voices—as well as practicing music in the empty rooms. A woman’s ghost has been sighted in the hallway, and Captain Flavel himself has been seen in his old bedroom before promptly vanishing.

The Interior

A Queen Anne style, two and a half story, 11,600 square-foot behemoth, the Flavel House sits on the corner of a fairly large plot of land—there is traditional woodwork around the interior windows, doors, windows, and staircase, all of which are Eastlake-influenced in design. The doors and window trim were made of Douglas Fir and were crafted by a master carpenter to look like mahogany and burl rosewood. There are six unique fireplace mantels within the house and they feature different imported tiles from around the world, an elaborate hand-carved mantel and a patterned firebox designed to burn coal. The first floor features fourteen-foot high ceilings, where the second floor’s ceilings sit at twelve feet high and are both embellished with crown molding and plaster medallions. The house was also fitted with indoor plumbing—incredibly state-of-the-art at the time—as well as gas-fueled lighting.

The first floor is dedicated to the public rooms, such as the grand entrance hall, formal parlor, music room—where the Flavel daughters held their music recitals—the library, dining room, and conservatory. The more private rooms on the first floor included the butler’s pantry, kitchen, and mudroom which were reserved for the housekeeping staff. The second floor was where the main bathroom, five bedrooms, and a small storage room or sewing room were. The attic floor is large and unfinished and houses the two plain wood bedrooms that were used by the Flavel’s domestic help. The four-story tower was made for the Captain to have a 360-degree view of Astoria and the Columbia River as a way for him to keep an eye on the local ship traffic coming through. There was also a dirt-floor basement that housed the large wood-burning furnace that kept the house warm.

The Carriage House was home to the family’s caretaker, and was also originally made to hold the family kept their carriage, sleigh, and small buggies—where it had three temporary holding stalls for their horses, a tack room, and an upstairs hayloft. In time it was transitioned to hold the more modern vehicles, such as the Flavel’s Studebaker sedan, and the family’s driver kept a room upstairs.

The Grounds

Not too long after the house was originally built, the family’s gardener, Louis Schultz, began planting trees, beautiful roses, as well as bulb flowers and shrubs—many of which were typical of a traditional Victorian garden. A number of the trees on the premises were officially named Oregon Heritage Trees—there is also a pond and a bench under the pear tree where Flavel’s daughters would sit in the shade. The entire house is considered a significant architectural and historical treasure for the entire Pacific Northwest.

The Timeline of the Flavels, Their Houses & Fate

1886

While the construction of the Captain George Conrad Flavel house was started in 1884, and it was finally finished in the spring of 1886. The Flavel House was built for Captain George Conrad Flavel and his family. The house was designed by German-born architect Carl W. Leick and the construction bordered between the Victorian and Colonial Revival periods. It was considered a prime example of Queen Anne architecture; one of the few remaining well-preserved examples in the entire Northwest. Due to the Captain’s long history and contributions to the community of Astoria, the Flavel family had long been considered the most prominent family in town.

The Captain had made his name and fortune as a prominent businessman through real estate investments and his occupation as a Columbia River bar pilot—becoming Astoria’s first millionaire—at the age of 62, he was finally able to retire in the house that he had built for himself and his family.

1887

The Carriage House was built on the south-west corner of the property.

1890s

Alex Murray, the family’s hired caretaker, called the Carriage House home while in the employment of the Flavels.

1893

Captain Flavel lived in the house for seven years with his wife Mary Christina Boelling and their two adult daughters, Nelli and Katie. Their son, George Conrad Flavel never resided within the George Conrad Flavel House, as he was already married and living in a house of his own. During his seventh year in the residence of the Flavel House, Captain Flavel passed away, leaving the to the family.

1901

Captain George Conrad Flavel’s son, George Conrad Flavel would build his house—the house that is now often referred to as the Harry Flavel House. George Conrad Flavel Junior had worked as a bar pilot for his father, becoming a Captain as well.

1922

When most of downtown Astoria was destroyed by a fire, the Flavel House was one of the only survivors.

1934

The Captain George Conrad Flavel House remained in the family until the great-granddaughter Patricia Jean Flavel gave the property to the city as a memorial to her family.

1936

The house was set to be torn down to establish an outdoor community property—the city ended up having financial difficulties and returned the property to Patricia Flavel—that same year, Patricia deeded the residence to Clatsop County, but with conditions. The understanding was that both the grounds and the house would be kept in good repair and used for public purposes.

1937

From the time the house was deeded the to county, until the end of World War II, the Public Health Department, Red Cross, and local Welfare Commission all had offices within the mansion.

1951

The Captain George Conrad Flavel House was officially added to the list of the National Register of Historic places, before which it was nearly demolished twice—once for a parking lot and again for a community park, but the townspeople rallied against the proposal and it began to be operated by the Clatsop County Historical Society in 1950.

2003

The Camperdown Elm, Sequoia Redwood, four Cork Elms, Bay Laurel, Pear, and Ginkgo Biloba trees on the premises were named official Oregon Heritage Trees in a state-wide dedication ceremony that was held on the grounds.

The Haunting at Captain George Conrad Flavels House

Truly, ever since the Flavel house was converted into a museum in 1951, there have been many reports of hauntings; phantom music and voices were heard on the first story of the house which was believed to have been a product of the Flavel sisters, as they were gifted musicians. The Library has always housed an unhappy and strange presence. There is an apparition of a woman who roams the hallway on the second floor, but she vanishes when approached—and a floral scent can be smelt at strange times in the bedroom of Ms. Flavel, when no one has been around. In Captain George Flavel’s room, his apparition can be seen, but he disappears into the floor once he has been noticed.