Many historic homes-turned-museums are refurbished to at least some extent. Visitors of the Bush House Museum will find that this is not the case, they will see what the Bush family saw day-to-day in the late 1800s.
After his wife died of tuberculosis, Asahel Bush II bought his partner’s share of their business and became horribly successful. Asahel innovated the Bush House, which he and his four young children moved into after the very accomplished architect Wilbur Boothby built it.
The home is both Victorian and Italianate in style and reflects the independence and elegance of the family who lived there. The home had what was then “modern” conveniences like heating, hot and cold water, and indoor plumbing. These were quite the luxuries of the 1870s.
The children, Asahel III, Estelle, and Sally made their father proud growing up and did well in their lives after college. Sally moved back home and managed the estate, Estelle married, and Asahel III went into banking. Eugenia was the only one of the four who was ill-fated. She developed a mental condition during her school years in Massachusetts and returned home.
Fact or Fiction?
What happened to Eugenia went she returned home is unknown, but there are two versions of the story:
1. Her father kept her in the basement, for he was embarrassed by his daughter’s mental condition. Besides the freedom to go outdoors, she was well cared for down there. There are no reports of abuse or poor conditions.
2. Her father shipped her away to a mental institution in Boston—where only the wealthiest were cared for. She received the best psychiatric and medical care available. She only returned home to the Bush House after her father’s death.
While the Bush House is largely an area associated with good memories, pleasant parks, varieties of rare flowers and even houses the Salem Art Fair and Festival, there have been countless reports of the extraordinary presences over the years.
“I did see a vase on a table in the living room slide about three inches across the table-top, and I heard it moving. I would have thought I was going a little crazy if my husband hadn’t seen it too!” said one woman.
Others report that a shadowy figure of a man in a suit fidgets with a pocket watch. One woman even said to have looked up what the senior Bush looked like upon seeing that presence and knew instantly—that is who she saw.
There have been reports of a young woman “crying and sobbing breathlessly.” Is this Eugenia? Perhaps, but more importantly is it the same woman who has been seen looking out a top-floor window in the evenings or floating through the rooms in a mist-like presence?
Frequently, visitors have heard whispers, cries, and even spoken conversations coming from a room around the corner. These occurrences have been reported too often to deny signs of the paranormal.
Now try your best to guess these interesting facts about the Bush House and Family!
1. There are __ bedrooms in the Bush house open to the public.
2. The 100-acre estate does NOT contain which of the following:
a. The barn
b. The original Bush House
c. The greenhouse
d. The garage
e. Many kaleidoscopic gardens
f. Pasturage for cattle
3. Asahel Bush II, a very successful and renowned inhabitant of the Bush House, did NOT have which occupation?
d. Democratic National Convention delegate
e. Oregon Statesman Journal owner
f. Oregon Statesman Journal publisher
4. Eugenia’s mental condition was:
c. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Excerpts from Ghosthunting: Oregon by Donna Stewart
Blog by Sarris Balcerzak
Answer Key: 1. c 2. d 3. c 4. b