Oregon History Portland History

The “Bates Motel” on Caruthers

A reader writes:

Back in the late 80s/early 90s, when I was attending PSU, I used to park down toward the end of Water Ave. and walk up the hill on Caruthers to get to my classes. (The uphill trudge was hell, but the parking was free.) Along the way, there was a house that apparently was occupied by deranged artists of some sort. There were weird sculptures in all the windows, an enormous phallus with a cowboy hat over the front door, and a sign that proclaimed the place the “Bates Motel.”

Surely I can’t be the only person who remembers this place, even if it was on an obscure street. The huge behatted dingus should have been kind of a memory-sticker, if nothing else. But looking around online yields no mention of it.

Do you know anyone who would know about this house and its occupants? I’ve been curious about the bizarre artwork ever since, and now I kick myself that I didn’t find out then. I know I didn’t dream it up, as I doubt I could hallucinate something that weird on my own.

Please post in the comments if you have any idea!

8 replies on “The “Bates Motel” on Caruthers”

There was a house over on NW 25th or so, Nob Hill area which had a neon “bates motel” sign in their garage window. It was there a few years back, not sure if it still is.

I know that doesn’t help but I guess it is kinda related.

Oh, yeah,
I remember that place, and I was recently thinking about it. That big wang in the window. Horrifying!

Were you familiar with the people who decorated it, Count C, or were you just a walk-by like me? (I’m the reader who wrote in originally, BTW.) I wish I could find a picture of the place, as it was the very soul of weirdness.

If you are referring to the place which burned down in the last few years–on Carruthers right up against the freeway overpass—it was called the Carruthers Hilton. For years it was lived in mostly by actors and others connected to the old Storefront Theatre. The Storefront itself was in two historic buildings—the brewery block on N Russell and the New Paris Theater just off Burnside downtown. I think the longest-standing resident of the Carruthers Hilton was Ric Young, one of the founders of the Storefront. Undoubtedly, if there was a giant phallus in the window, that was Ric’s apartment.

i’m glad that at least one person posting here carries the memory of the caruthers hilton. the owner, stipulated that to reside there, a tenant was required to be a working artist of some kind which allowed this little backwash complex it’s special distinction. going back to the 60’s and 70’s the CH was host to some of the most important artists and thinkers of the time. Acid and grass for breakfast… i also know that allen ginsberg had been a guest there at least once.

My father in law lived at the Carruthers Hilton in 66-67 while attending PSU. Says there was a Stop the War sign outside facing 405. Another name was the Carruthers Kremlin.

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