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Hallowed ground

Matthew Knowles takes Halloween decorations to a new level


by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - This year, Matthew Knowles crafted a new set of gravestones using pink foam and a butane torch. Seven years ago, when Matthew Knowles first saw his eventual home atop the hills of West Linn, his gaze fell straight to the front yard.

Sloping and bordered by a row of trees off to the left, it was a striking piece of land. The yard had plenty of open space and stuck out prominently to passers-by along Carriage Way.

Perfect for a graveyard.

If that sounds sinister, you haven’t met Knowles — a family man with a full-time job who happens to be a Halloween fanatic. Each year since he moved from Phoenix to West Linn, Knowles has dazzled neighbors with an ever-evolving display outside his home that features everything from goblins to disembodied limbs, spooky sounds and — of course — a graveyard.

The end product on Halloween night is Knowles’ reward for two months of hard work. What he doesn’t find at thrift shops is handmade in his garage after coming home from work. This year, Knowles retired his old wooden headstones and created a new set with pink foam and a butane torch. “It’s just one of those things,” Knowles said. “Some people watch football, some people play golf. I make tombstones and crazy stuff for Halloween.”

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Matthew Knowles has become well-known in his West Linn neighborhood for an elaborate Halloween display.

Knowles has always loved Halloween, for reasons beyond dressing up and eating his body weight in candy. His Oct. 30 birthday added an extra layer to the festivities, and now he has a daughter whose birthday is Oct. 27.

“We’re not very religious as a family,” Knowles said. “So we have other kinds of rituals. In general, we do costumes and everything, but it’s kind of an excuse to be creative and do stuff that we normally wouldn’t do.”

Knowles’ passion only grew when he moved to Oregon, where fall was more than just a term that divided up the calendar.

“I always loved Halloween,” Knowles said. “But with the fall and cool cemeteries and the leaves (in Oregon), it just felt like, ‘Wow, this is where I belong.’”

Knowles started the tradition of decorating his house a few years before he moved up north, but it never felt quite right.

“It was a tiny fraction of this — a smaller yard,” Knowles said. “People would just come by and give me looks and be concerned. This community is more accepting.”

Indeed, neighbors frequently ask Knowles about what he’ll add next — “They have special requests,” he said — and the house has become a trick-or-treating hotspot on Halloween night. One year, a group of children was bused over just to see the display.

“I always save a couple of brand-new things for Halloween night,” Knowles said.

Last year, it was a baby-eating troll made out of paper mache balls, inspired by the foreign film “Trollhunter” (Knowles is a horror film buff).

“That’s kind of the edge of the scariness,” Knowles said.

He’s only gotten two complaints over the years — one about a baby doll that was “floating” over a grave and the other claiming that the display was simply too scary.

“People come and hopefully see something creepy,” Knowles said, “but not so much that kids will get terrified.”

Knowles’ display can be found at 1810 Carriage Way in West Linn.

Patrick Malee can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 106. Follow him on Twitter, @pmalee_wl

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Oregon's fall weather perfectly suited Matthew Knowles, a Phoenix transplant who has always loved Halloween.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Matthew Knowles found a hollowed-out coffin on Craigslist to add to his collection.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Many of Matthew Knowles' decorations come from thrift stores or he makes them himself.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - A doll displayed in the yard is meant to depict a character from one of Matthew Knowles' favorite movies, The Shining.




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