Captain Edwin R Rogers House

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People who were killed by illness, war, accident or murder, sometimes like to stay on or near the property where they met their end.




As Tom and I adore beautiful mansions, we would love to take a tour of this grand mansion someday. We were certainly impressed by the outside structure and the mansion’s glorious view of “The Sound”.

The Captain Edwin R. Rogers House is more than a house; it is a handsome, huge, three-story Victorian mansion covering 4,582 square ft., built in 1891, with a customary basement, ballroom and attic, each with just the right decor, stately but not over the top. It truly is a beautifully restored historic mansion that presents quite an impression. It has been described as being a “massive timber structure”, with a nicely done green paint job.

The front door faces the beautiful sound, and its design makes the most of this glorious view. There is a large front porch on the first floor and a lovely wrap-around sun deck on the second. Large, handsome face the ocean and provide inspiring views, from the first floor to the attic.

On Jeff Wolff’s photo website, visitors can see his few but lovely pictures of the inside. Wow! Elegant, beautiful and simple, the interior design includes lovely displays of wooden floors, wainscoting throughout the mansion, and a wonderfully carved wooden central staircase, just to mention a few of the details.

The visitor can see why this mansion was dearly loved by Catherine Rogers and Hattie Bair, two women of this house, who lived here at different times.



During its 122-year history, the Captain Edwin R. Rogers House has been not only a private home for the wealthy, but also a hotel that rented its rooms to boarders, a rock museum, and the very successful E.R. Rogers Restaurant.

Rogers was a wealthy sea merchant who made his fortune in partnership with a brilliant entrepreneur, Mr. McCaw, in 1857, when Rogers was 28 years old. They put their money together and with this joint capital, sailed to San Francisco and purchased an enlarged stock of goods. Their 24 year alliance proved to be a money maker. In April of 1881, Mr. McCaw died, leaving Rogers, who continued as the sole buyer and seller of goods, still making a good living.

In 1891, at the age of 62, he built his dream home on Commercial Street in Steilacoom for himself, his adored wife, Catherine, and their large family. They had plans to live out their lives here.

Unfortunately, the nationwide recession of 1893 shattered their dreams and they had to move out after only two years. Rogers lost most of his fortune, but he was not one to throw in the towel. He and his wife Catherine and family continued to live in Steilacoom, in another house; not so grand, but it suited their needs comfortably.

Because of the size of the Mansion, it was put to work, and turned into a commercial place of business to help bring in income for its upkeep. Its location was a big draw. The Mansion became the extended stay Waverly Hotel in 1920, renting rooms to boarders, and becoming a very nice place to live. Servicemen, McNeil Island employees and other workers must have enjoyed living here over the years. Those new to town stayed at The Waverly Hotel, their first place to stay in Steilacoom.

In 1928, Warren and Hattie Bair bought the Waverly Hotel, a purchase that Warren wasn’t crazy about, but he agreed to it at the insistence of his wife. Hattie, being a hands-on kind of person, she had a blast, cooking for all the folks who stayed at the Hotel. She continued doing so even after Warren died in 1930.

During the Depression Years, Hattie, who had a huge heart, helped men who were “down on their luck” for a day or two, a week or even a month. One source reported “They would willingly do odd jobs: chop and stack wood, sweep, clean—whatever—in exchange for food and a place to sleep. There was a wood shed and storage shed next to the Waverly Hotel, and the ‘bums’ would stay there. Never once did the Bairs have a bad experience with any of the ‘Bums.’”

Hattie spent her life here, doing what she could for family, which was very important to her. She had parties, social events, and always welcomed her grandchildren and their friends. She put a pool table on the first floor for their enjoyment. In her later years, she spent her time listening to the radio and napping. She died on January 29, 1948, at the ripe old age of 88 in her beloved mansion.

At some point, one source states that the Rogers House became a rock museum for a few years. It was then purchased by an owner who leased it to a restaurant, renaming it the ER Rogers Restaurant, a very popular place to dine for many years. Imagine having a meal, and being able to look at the glorious view at the same time.

Peggy and Jeff Gross purchased the house in 2006, and over several years restored the landmark structure from basement to attic. The complete makeover/restoration was featured in an issue of Victorian Homes Magazine in 2011.

The new tenants now are Professional Law firms, who are great tenants as they will take good care of their spaces to impress clients. The offices are closed at night, which gives the Rogers House’s spirits the place to themselves. The spirits who are connected to the property have a freedom to enjoy the view, which perhaps encourages them to materialize.



People who lose their lives to illness, war, accident or murder, sometimes like to stay on or near the property where they met their end. Sometimes, they move into the nearest structure near the spot where they passed, especially if they have had a connection to it.

Sometimes people try to relive the time before they died to try to make it different or simply to enjoy again what they had right before their death; looking for the peace of normalcy.

Chief Leschi was hung on a gallows built near this property, and apparently enjoys the view of the sound.

A man was mugged and killed here, sometime during the Waverly Hotel years. His spirit may have come inside as well, especially since he probably was renting a room here at the time of his murder.

When people have to give up their favorite place in this world because of unfortunate circumstances, they sometimes choose to spend their afterlife in it.

E.R. and Catherine Rogers only got to live in their dream retirement home for two years. Catherine must have been very upset when Hattie and Warren bought her house. Apparently, Catherine has chosen to visit or reside here in her afterlife.

When a loved one chooses to stay in a structure in this world, sometimes family members stay with them or visit often.

A male spirit that could be E.R. Rogers has been seen inside.

Some think that the female spirit mentioned above could be Hattie Bair, but Hattie is thought by others to be the female spirit who keeps the spirit of Warren L Bair, her beloved husband, company at his beloved Bair Drug and Hardware Store, which is now home to the Bair Drug and Hardware Museum and a restaurant, The Bistro.

When people commit suicide, they find that their emotional torment is still with them, and they didn’t find the peace or relief they were looking for, so they remain in their favorite place on earth, perhaps being unable to let go of their emotions or afraid to go to the other side.

There is a theory proposed by ghost hunters that a woman from some era of the mansion may have killed herself in the upstairs bedroom.



Signs of 1-3 Spirits

They liked to tinker with electrical and electronic items like the Bar’s VCR, DVD players, and small appliances in the bar and kitchen area.

Depressions in the carpet suggest that an unseen presence is walking by.

After the restaurant was locked up for the night, staff would look back at the mansion and see lights pop on by themselves.

The security alarm would be triggered as well, sending armed police with dogs to investigate. The dogs refused to enter the structure and the police never found anyone alive.

Standards Must Be Kept!

Candles and glasses have been thrown off the tables, perhaps pointing to the spirit of a past owner.

Perhaps the glasses and candles didn’t meet the high standards of a particular spirit person.

When workers from a cleaning carpet service started to work on the Restaurant’s carpets, they felt an unseen presence supervising their efforts to such an extent that they went to lunch and refused to return.

A former owner perhaps felt the irresistible need to keep an eye on the workers to be sure they didn’t take short cuts.

The Spirit of Catherine

Likes to wear a white dress. She is most active on the second floor.

During the years when the mansion was the E.R. Rogers Restaurant, a female spirit was seen floating near the ceiling of the lavish 2nd floor bar.

An employee of the restaurant would hear soft footsteps on the second floor while working on the first floor.

While sitting in the bar area, a patron was startled to see a pair of woman’s legs in stockings appear at his eye level.

Mirrors and windows in this structure have reflected parts of a woman dressed “to the nines” in an elegant dress with a hair style to match.

Male Entity

Could be ER Rogers himself, keeping Catherine company.

Perhaps this spirit was a boarder who had a room at the Waverly Hotel in some era.

He could be the man who was killed while returning home to the Waverly. This male spirit has been seen by the living going up the staircase, something that a male spirit did routinely while alive and living here.

Two Male Spirits

Outside on the property: Two different male apparitions have been reported by witnesses.

The Entity of the Chief has been seen, standing and probably enjoying the irresistible view from the yard of the Captain Edwin R. Rogers House, perhaps using the view of the sound to remember his pleasant memories and normal times to try to find peace for himself.

Another male entity has been seen as well, thought to be the man who was killed, or someone else who died nearby from an accident or illness. This male spirit is also trying to find peace by enjoying the view of the sound from the yard of the Captain Edwin R. Rogers House too.


Most probably so. It seems that most of the paranormal occurrences may have taken place when the restaurant was open, though when a perceived need was present, the carpet cleaning workers were supervised by an unseen presence. As most law offices close during evening hours, whoever is haunting here has the place to themselves.

If the current Law Offices on the second floor have heard or seen anything, they haven’t reported it publicly. The female presence may have let them know that she was there, as not doing so would be very impolite. The male presence may have too, especially if they have an office in one of his old favorite rooms.

One author, Jeff Dwyer in his book, “Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Seattle and Puget Sound” said that ghost hunters had a theory about who the woman entity could be, which implies that a private investigation was done by a paranormal investigation group at the request of ER Rogers Restaurant. Their employees must have been upset by the paranormal activity. Or, perhaps the current owners had asked for this investigation. Something may have been caught to confirm the presence of a female entity, though the name of this female entity wasn’t discovered.




1702 Commercial Street
Steilacoom, WA 98388

The Captain Edwin R Rogers House is located one half block west of Lafayette, on the corner of Wilkes and Commercial Streets, in the “Town of the Sound,” Steilacoom. It is one of the historic treasures found in Steilacoom’s forty block historic district.


  • “Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Seattle and Puget Sound” By Jeff Dwyer
    Pelican Publishing Company
    pg.90-92, 2008
  • “A peek inside E.R. Rogers’ mansion” By Nancy Covert
    for The Suburban Times
    posted May 2, 2012
    retrieved August 25, 2018
  • “Virtual Tour of E.R. Rogers Mansion”
    Lakewood Historical Society
  • ER Rogers Mansion, Steilacoom, WA
    Jeff Wolff Photography
  • Haunted Places: Steilacoom at
  • “Historic Steilacoom Walking Tour”
    Brochure produced by
  • “In Steilacoom, it’s out with the new, in with the old” By Craig Sailor
    for The News Tribune
    published May 22, 2015
    retrieved August 25, 2018
  • Biography of E.R. Rogers
    published June 8, 2012
    retrieved August 25, 2018
  • “Harriet (Hattie) Elizabeth Godfrey Bair” Presented by Jane Bair Light

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Washington