Cottage Grove

Forget Halloween; locals say Cottage Grove is haunted, phantasmic year-round

The Cottage Grove Armory was built in 1931 and has been rumored to be haunted. An Oregon-based ghost hunter team has even investigated the location. PHOTO PROVIDED/COTTAGE GROVE ARMORY

COTTAGE GROVE – This is the time of year when we turn our attention to Halloween and the idea of ghouls, ghosts and other paranormal activity. Perhaps a scarier thought, however, is that all this haunted activity is present all year, and Cottage Grove residents don’t have to go far to find it.
As Cottage Grove maintains its active historic district, many of the buildings and residences have a lively history. Among these are the Cottage Grove Hotel Apartments and the Cottage Grove Armory, both of which are rumored to have paranormal connections.
”The Cottage Grove hotel is definitely haunted; I knew it when I walked in,” said Lana Neal, who grew up in the area and whose mom lived in the apartment when Neal was going to high school. ”I’m not the only one to experience it, and I know (the owners) are aware of it. I spoke with people who have had similar situations – people saying they’ve seen stuff and felt stuff.”
The hotel was known as the Bartell Hotel when it was built in 1917, according to the Cottage Grove Historic Downtown walking tours. Since then, the hotel has turned into an apartment complex owned by Martin Henner; Henner wasn’t available to comment on the building’s haunted status before presstime.
Along with its age, the hotel was also the site of a murder in 2004 when Mark Steward Clark Jr. beat to death his ex-girlfriend, 48-year-old Cynthia Rae Michaelis, in the lobby, according to Register-Guard newspaper archives.
”There’s a lot of energy in that place,” Neal said, adding that along with the murder, people have shared with her on Facebook that suicides have also taken place there.
Neal, who lives in Louisville, Kentucky, has frequented multiple haunted locations – among them Alcatraz and Bobby Mackey’s Music World, a honky tonk located in Wilder, Kentucky, that has been the site of hauntings, murders and suicides. But it was the Cottage Grove Hotel Apartments where Neal said she had her first experience with the paranormal.
Neal said she was visiting her mom when she started to feel like she was going to pass out.
”It was a draining feeling,” she explained. ”I thought, ‘Maybe I’m just under the weather,’ but then it started to get overwhelming.” She said that she was starting to sweat profusely and her mom had to give her a cold, wet rag. Neal said that eventually things calmed down, and when she left the building she felt completely better.
Neal said that on other visits, she and her mom would hear footsteps in the hallway walking past their door, but when they would check the peephole, no one would ever be in the hallway. Along with footsteps, Neal said that she would smell perfume going to the exit towards the backyard.
”It comes and goes; it’s not a laundry scent, it’s like an old fashioned perfume,” she said. ”It’s not something you’d smell in this day and age.”
Neal also has heard stories of people encountering a woman in Victorian clothing in the laundry room, but she hadn’t experienced that.
Neal said her mom lived in the apartments for three years before eventually moving to Junction City.
”At the time it was terrifying, but it made me understand what happens in the afterlife – and more than that, if you don’t believe, it’s understandable, but you have to experience it to believe it,” she said.
The Cottage Grove Armory also has been considered haunted. Neal said that she hasn’t experienced anything there but has heard stories. These stories have become so frequent that in 2013 a five-woman ghost-hunting team in Oregon called Coast Ghost Paranormal Activity Society, investigated the building, according to Mail Tribune archives.
The Armory was built in 1931 to house the National Guard, but in recent years has hosted sporting events, graduation ceremonies, dances, concerts and more. The team was granted access by the City to hold an investigation.
During its visit the team said it collected evidence of orbs – floating circles – some of which had faces. These were caught with digital cameras and processed through filters; however, there wasn’t any spotting of full-body apparitions.
No matter what does or doesn’t happen in these ”haunted” buildings, residents no doubt will encounter plenty of ”ghosts” during this Halloween season seeking candy and other goodies.



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