With Halloween just a day away, one cannot help but think of ghosts and spirits. Washington D.C. has plenty of opportunity for frights, even when you don’t count the politicians! When you come to ALA Annual next June, you just might see a spirit or two!
D.C.’s most famous haunted house is, of course, the White House. Abraham Lincoln has been seen in the East Room (where his body lay in state), the Oval Office, hallways, and in the Lincoln bedroom. Abigail Adams has also been see in and around the East Room, carrying and hanging laundry. The White House was still under construction when she was living there, and the East Room was the only non-drafty space – perfect for hanging laundry! During Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, First Lady Wilson requested that the Rose Garden be dug up, but these plans were canceled after the workmen reported seeing the ghost of Dolley Madison there, preventing them from removing the plants. Dolley had planted the original garden, and it still grows today. People have also reported hearing a voice say, “I’m Mr. Burns.” The land the House was built on once belonged to a David Burns; maybe he doesn’t want to be forgotten!
Several other historic houses are rumored to be haunted. In the Octagon House, two daughters of the man who built the house fell to their deaths on the stairs, on separate occasions. Visitors have reported seeing a candle flame go up the stairs, a scream, and a thud at the bottom of the stairs. Stephen Decatur is supposed to haunt his namesake house – his death was the result of a duel, and he is often seen around the house, peering out the windows.
The National Theatre has its own ghost – a former actor who was killed by a fellow actor. John McCullough is believed to roam the theatre before opening night. You can read more about him and his rumored remains at the National Theatre’s website.
Two hotels are rumored to be haunted. The Hay Adams Hotel staff is said to believe that Clover Adams, the wife of the original owner, haunts their fourth floor. Some have heard crying, seen things opened or turned on, and a few have even reported receiving hugs from her! The Renaissance Mayflower Hotel hosted the Inaugural Ball for Calvin Coolidge, but he did not attend because he was mourning the death of his son. Strange occurrences have since happened on January 20th, the date of Inauguration, including flickering lights, mysterious plates and wine appearing, and an elevator that does not want to move. Many think it is President Coolidge or his son, having the celebration they never had.
The Capitol building has many ghosts lurking in its halls , but perhaps the most creepy is the demon cat, DC. His appearance warns that a national tragedy is about to happen. He was seen before the 1929 stock market crash and the assassination of JFK.
Another spooky location you can visit is the Exorcist stairs. These are the famous stairs used in the movie, and they are located in Georgetown. The house used in the movie is also located near the stairs. You can read about how the steps were supposedly used at Dark Destinations.
Several companies operate ghost walks and tours. If you are interested in one while you visit D.C., they can be easily found with an internet search. Schedules vary throughout the year.
Stories for this post have been complied from personal memory, websites mentioned above, and the following websites: