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, also the home of the Warner family, which is now on the National Historic Registry:
Issac Macrum House
2225 12th Ave
"A sure way to overcome one's curiosity about an oddity is to go right to the source of the phenomenon. And that is exactly where I ended up -- in an eighty year old castle, talking to the teacher of what is now a kindergarten called "Castle School." The oddity of this magnificent structure is not its use as a kindergarten (although that is not a sight one sees everyday), but the fact that its location is somewhat relegated. The usual location for a castle is Merry Old England or at least a short derivative away, say the continental mainland. But this lost little castle is ten thousand miles astray, set in a little town at the foot of the beautiful Coast Range Mountains in northwestern United States. The small active community of Forest Grove, Oregon, is the home of the castle. Mrs. Warner, a middle-aged but still very youthful looking lady, was very helpful in explaining the castle's eventful history, from its grand and illustrious beginning to its now dual service of a daytime kindergarten on the main level and a home for the five members of the Warner family on the second, third, basement, and tower levels.
Brimming with the enthralling events of the castle's past, Mrs. Warner set me free to seek out, to view, to touch, to wander through the castle's immensity and to find its past first hand.
To really understand every fragment of the castle's story, I started at the beginning, back when it was first built, back in 1888.
I began to explore and to tie in the facts Mrs. Warner had given to me to the castle itself. The castle was built by and Englishman as a fulfillment of a life-long dream. His name was McCrum. He was a very successful banker in Portland, which is twenty-five miles from Forest Grove. He wanted to get away from the general hustle and bustle that even then engulfed the growing city of Portland. Twenty-five miles was quite a distance in that day and age but Mr. McCrum commuted the distance on the electric train that ran from Portland out to what was once a Carnation Evaporated Milk plant but what is now a saw mill under the name of Garrigus Lumber Company. I found that from the upper two levels of the castle, the saw mill is visible and also the tracks that still carry trains out from Portland.
Mr. McCrum had another reason for building the structure besides just to fulfill a dream. This second, more practical reason, became apparent as I wandered through the "house." The McCrum family was very large. The castle held within it 21 rooms of various shapes and sizes. Surely this must have been more than enough room fro the entire McCrum family plus their servants. A romantic rumor swept through Forest Grove while the castle was being erected, about the reason why it was being built. It was thought that Mr. McCrum was submitting to the desires of a young girl whom he was madly in love with. The girl was supposedly a dancer from San Francisco. Of course, the rumor was proven wrong when McCrum's little army of children moved in. But some folks enhanced by the romance rationalized the happening by saying that the young dancer ran off with a gambler.
I found myself rambling from room to room with no real point or sense of direction. Knowing that this form of hit and miss exploration would not give a good unified picture of the structure, I went outside to gain my bearings. Standing on the crest of the hill about a hundred yards in front of the castle, I observed it in its entirety.
Looking down the hill away from the castle, I could see hte meandering stream that marked the boundary of this misplaced feudal estate. But I was sure that even the beauty of England would not have compared with the greeness that must have enhanced the acreage that lay encompassed in the castle's domain. Turing back to the huge shape, I studied the outline of irregular protrusions. It had taken the carpenters two years to complete the building. It was made entirely of wood except for the array of eleven red brick chimneys sprouting from the black shake shingles.
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