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
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.
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.
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.
Harry Melville and his second wife Florence Sherman would have their first child Mary Louise.
Harry Melville and Florence had their second child, Harry Sherman Flavel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Author. Artist. A little bit Alaskan. Mary lives with her dog in a rural cabin outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. They explore the bounty of the Alaskan wilderness during the summer and cozy up in their log cabin during the winter.