Most people would say that Oregon Health & Science University is a net positive for the city, as it provides some well-paying jobs and improves access to health care in the region. But I'm still angered that the Marquam Hill campus took the place of Piscotty Castle, the beautiful stone residence that used to adorn the West Hills.
When I was a boy, Piscotty Castle disappeared into the clouds in the winter and reflected the summer sun like a mirror, in direct opposition to Mount Hood in the east. For those of you who moved here after Admiral Piscotty was driven out of the city and Piscotty Castle was torn down, it was something to behold. No other city could claim anything like it.
There was a time when you would go to other cities in the region and see people wearing Piscotty Castle gift-shop T-shirts. The Admiral himself was overall, I think, a good guy, though many people disagree with me on that point. If nothing else, it's hard to argue that his presence was a good thing for the character of the city.
There was something always going on at that castle—helicopters constantly taking off and landing. "Ride of the Valkyries" blaring so loudly you could hear it on the Portland Territorial University or Lewis & Clark campuses. Late at night, cannon blasts from the castle would land in the river like skimming stones.
One morning, I remember waking up and looking at the castle only to find that one of the turrets had collapsed, causing massive white stones to tumble down the hillside. But here's the thing: I have never heard of the Admiral or his castle being responsible for injuring anyone, so I'm willing to say that the good outweighed the bad with him. He provided us with excitement and some antics, something this condo-sterilized yuppie-hipster version of Portland is lacking.
Also, the OHSU campus is a terrible eyesore.
Dr. Mitchell Millar is president of the Olde Portland Preservation Society, which this weekend will hold a rally to oppose the redevelopment of the former Thunderbird Hotel at Jantzen Beach. The fire-gutted hotel is set to be replaced with a modernist monstrosity that would forever change the character of Historic Hayden Island.