Fun Fact #37 Is that bat light really historic or is it from the Spirit Store?

Fun Fact #37 Is that bat light really historic or is it from the Spirit Store?
Above is the Mackenzie house light. Where you see two light bulbs was once were gas jets flamed forth to light the entry.

The original cast for these bat lights is from the Mackenzie House. The Nathan Lob House (726 NW 22nd) is also has one that quite possibly is a replica. The original lamp at the Mackenzie House was a interior gas lamp. In Scottish folklore the bat is associated with witches, dark magic, sorcery and necromancy.   The bat in this piece of art is the messenger between witches and the devil. Satan is often depicted in art with bat-like wings where as angles have bird-like wings.

Hand caste replica sold online by Rejuvenation.


The snake, on the other hand, is a symbol of medicine. This single snake on a rod is not the common medical symbol–the caduceus, which features two, snakes a stick and wings. This is linked to the Greek God Hermes–the rod had been a gift from Apollo and the snakes were battling and the rod was used to separate them.   Doctors traveled and the walking stick was associated with itinerate medical men and Hermes the winged god was  their patron saint.

The Mackenzie House in Nob Hill

Dr. Mackenzie was a Scot and a prominent physician. The lamp in the entry of his house, (615 NW 20th /2023 NW Hoyt) with the snake over the bat, depicts the triumph of medicine over the occult.  A single snake on a rod it is the asklepian (the Rod of Asclepius son of Apollo). The snake that’s wrapped around the rod may symbolize rejuvenation and held by the deity of medicine and healing.

Update 9-7-18:

The house is currently on the market. This is an image from Dan Volkmeer’s Marketing Materials a well lit image of the famous bat light.

Nob Hill Fun Fact #19: Why is there an elk on the Mackenzie House?

Black and White exterior image of a stone house with a stage head under an archway. A very unusual example of Queen Shingle Style because the shingles are made of slate. The chimney is massive with decorative metal sun on the basalt rock that starts at the basement level and then contrasts with the shingles..

Nob Hill Fun Fact #19: Why is there an elk on the Mackenzie House?

Photo Credit Tanya Lyn March: “I took this during the rummage sale last Saturday.”
July 2015


The bust of a white stag centered below a framing arch of slate shingles is a symbol from the MacKenzie family coat of arms—denoting the doctor’s strong connection to the family’s Scottish roots. I would have loved to have been in the room when the client asked the architects of the 1887 Annex to the Portland Armory (now the Gerding Theater) “to stick an Elk on it”.

A curiously rich and balanced blend of Richardsonian Romanesque and Shingle styles sets this important historic landmark apart from many homes in the neighborhood, through the dark slate shingles used as a dominant material in the exterior cladding. The building is rich with architectural detailing on both exterior and interior, and is constructed of quality materials throughout, including sandstone, slate, ornamental woodwork, and plaster. The use of rusticated Tenino stone is eye-catching. The light hue of the tower and chimney’s sandstone makes a striking contrast to the dark slate shingles. The elegant stones were imported from Tenino, Washington; when these stones were ordered in 1890 the quarry had just started to expand operations that led to a sandstone “boom town” that petered out between 1915 and 1920 as concrete replaced the use of sandstone in construction projects. The only more highly acclaimed house built in this style and material palette was the Julius Loewenberg House, constructed in the same year and demolished in 1960.

Update September 2018: MacKenzie in Gaelic is “Caberfeidh” which translates as “Deer Antlers”.  I have learned that in Scotland there are Red Stages that are similar to our American Elk.  It is possible that that is not an elk at all.

Update April 1, 2020: Go watch some Outlander and get back to me with more information on the clan.  With Covid-19 out and about we are not leading any tours.  It is still a joy to know that William Temple House sold the building but is able to rent it back and is helping feed people at this challenging time.