Turbulent. That's how Vanessa Ivey, manager of the Deschutes Historical Museum, describes Bend's early days as a mill town. But Bend was not much different from many other western towns that had their roots in the early 1900s. "North Bond Street was all about shoot-em ups, saloons and rough nights," Ivey says, when women were encouraged not to walk downtown from Bond past Greenwood because of the company encountered there. Today that now-respectable area is near the location of the Boyd Building and Brother Jon's Alehouse.
Stories of the past often come back to haunt the present, especially at Halloween. On Oct. 28 and 29 the Deschutes Historical Museum will present its annual "Haunt Walks" through downtown Bend, now in its seventh year. There are 12 "Walks" each of the two days, three per hour, starting between 4 and 7 pm, conducted by members of the Deschutes County Historical Society. Passing buildings where paranormal activities have been reported, the tours conclude at Crow's Feet Commons. Walkers are then invited back to the museum for a special presentation on the history of the Ouija board, offered by Museum Board President Nate Pederson at 8 pm.
Downtown Bend Haunts
The Downing Building at the north end of Bond Street is a building known to have paranormal sightings, according to Ivey. Today it's the location of Seven Restaurant & Nightclub. "People have reported a woman in green comes down and meanders through the building," says Ivey.
The Haunt Walks don't enter the buildings; instead, the focus is on the history and the stories passed down over the years. Other downtown Bend haunts include the historic Fire Hall on Minnesota, now the location of the Brickhouse Steak & Seafood Restaurant, where people tell of an old fireman sitting inside the restaurant, near the fireplace, dressed in his firefighting uniform.
According to Ivey, there are also many stories about the Old St. Francis School—a 1936 Catholic schoolhouse—that was converted into the popular McMenamins restaurant, pub and hotel in 2004. Guests have reported hearing children running upstairs, even though the original school structure is a one-story building.
The O'Kane Building on NW Oregon Street is another haunt. Built in 1916 by Bend businessman Hugh O'Kane, people have reported footsteps and voices inside, as well as reports of an old man haunting the basement.
But one of the most interesting ghost stories concerns the Deschutes Historical Museum building itself, which was once a school. Ed and George Brosterhous were contractors who built several structures along Wall Street and other locations in downtown Bend. Ed, who was a member of the City Council, would later help build the stately Episcopal Church and Bend High School. Brosterhous Road in Southeast Bend is named after the family.
In the summer of 1914, George was on the rooftop supervising work when he lost his footing and fell three stories through an area meant for a stairwell. He died instantly. Apparently, George Brosterhous likes to hang around the building still today.
The "George Moments" are a legend around the museum. "If things go missing, they generally show up within a 24-36 hour period, and it's usually thanks to George," Ivey says. While museum workers are conducting research, books have literally fallen off the shelves, open to the pages needed for that particular reference.
But it's another "George Moment" that museum workers like to share most. A pianist who was performing in Bend stopped at the museum to play the museum's piano. A staffer heard and came down to watch. When finished, the pianist asked the staffer about the man who was watching her. Puzzled, the female worker said they were alone. But the pianist maintained there was a man watching the staffer right then, and he described the man's appearance. His description wasn't familiar to the staffer. When the pianist left the building, he saw the picture of Ed and George Brosterhous. He pointed to George (see him below) and said, "That's the guy that I saw."
Historical Haunts of Downtown Bend
Oct. 28 & 29, 4-7pm
Tours start at Deschutes County Historical Museum
129 NW Idaho Ave., Bend
$10, free to museum members