That Never Goes Out

The quality of the light at the Wilhelm Portland Memorial is a considerable  part of its creepy spell.  You may find yourself in a dark corner, squinting at the indirect light dimly illuminating the corridor. Turn the corner and full panel fluorescence with their faint hum will stare back at you from the ceilings and walls — unless you’re under the moss and rust covered skylights that illuminate sections of the lower floors.

The memorial has 8 floors of tombs, but that’s deceptive.  Ground level is the fifth floor, and floors 1 – 4 are carved into the side of a ridge overlooking the Oak Bottom Wildlife refuge.  This means when you make a left from the long corridors of tombs on any particular floor into the northern chapel areas, your eyes will be assaulted by sunlight from the full windows in the west facing wall. 

This sunlight is also peppered through the twister corridors of tombs via opaque windows. Some are priceless stained glass, others glazed glass or plastic that’d be more at home in a 70s bathroom set.

All this puts your pupils in a contant state of adjustment, and with the slight burning that comes from the scent funeral homes use to mask the smell of formaldehyde and the dead, combined with the smell of formaldehyde and the dead, your psyche is left open to any suggestion the thousands of sleeping dead may have.