Washington D.C. is the focus for the rising and ebbing passions about how the United States is run. When passions run high and there is a lot at stake, people act in mysterious ways. Those two things happen so often in Washington D.C. the energy in the air is often palpable.
Washington D.C. became the nation’s capital in 1791, replacing New York City. It was built practically from the ground up, allowing for the impressive open expanses of the national mall, Presidents Park and the Museum mile.
Although it is home to many of the most popular tourist attractions in the county (and maybe the world), one of the most popular tourist attractions there is something that is not often seen. And when it is seen, it is not often welcome. Ghosts, hauntings, apparitions and ghouls are common in Washington D.C. the leftover spirits of lives left unlived that ended in turmoil.
So many places in this town, hot and swampy in the Summer, cold and frigid in the Winter have supernatural stories to tell that we can easily highlight only ten and still tell tales to make you wonder if they can’t all be imagined.
10. U.S. Capitol
A ghostly black cat is believed to stalk the capitol’s halls only before some of the darkest times in American history. This cat was said to appear in a foretelling of Adams’ death. Some accounts go well into the 20th century. Sightings of a black cat were said to be reported before the Stock Market crash of 1929 and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
It is uncertain if such sightings ever occurred recently, but some might take heed of dark times ahead if a black cat appears on the Capitol grounds.
9. The White House
Many ghosts continue to be attracted to the seat of power for the person with the most important job in the world. Dolley Madison, of maybe a fixture in the hallowed halls even after her death nearly 200 years ago.
Other ghosts that have been seen include Abraham Lincoln’s tall imposing silhouette seen long after he shuffled off this mortal coil. Bess Truman, who was the First Lady during the presidency of her husband Harry Truman, often heard rattling outside of the Lincoln Bedroom. But Mrs. Truman was not alone. The first lady before her, Eleanor Roosevelt, said she would often feel a presence outside of the Lincoln Bedroom. Even Roosevelt’s dog Fala would bark for no apparent reason at times. More reports come from the huge list of dignitaries who have either visited or spent the night at the White House. A recent report was from Maureen Reagan, the daughter of President Ronald Reagan, who believed she had seen a ghostly figure standing in the White House hallway, once again outside the Lincoln bedroom of the White House.
or spent the night at the White House. The last known “presence” reported was when Maureen Reagan, the daughter of President Ronald Reagan, believed to have seen a figure standing in the hallway.
8. The Octagon House
Aside from Dolley Madison being an unwelcome presence, others have bells ringing for no apparent reason and even some screams that belong to young girls. The screams could be from the spirits of the daughter of Colonel Tayloe. One of his girls is said to have died here at the Octagon House after falling over a stairway railing and plunging to her death on the elegant octagonal design of the wood floor below.
7. The Smithsonian Castle
In 1973, a museum curator at the Smithsonian took it upon himself to open the coffin that contained the remains of Smithson. Some doubts had been raised as to the contents of the casket. His bones were indeed present, and he was reinterred in a small ceremony again at his inconspicuous gravesite.
Paleontologist Fielding B. Meek lived with his cat in small accommodations under the stairs in the Smithsonian. An unhappy man with mournful eyes, he was moved away from his unusual quarters. He became ill, died, and yet still roams the halls looking for more fascinating conversation about science. There is so much history on display at one of the many museums that make up the Smithsonian, people are drawn there, as well as ghosts.
6. Ford’s Theatre
Lincoln’s ghost has been seen in various parts of D.C. Indeed, a woman who was present during the assassination was said to have been visited by Lincoln’s apparition outside of her home in upstate New York.
5. Lafayette Square Park
The park is also the site of a gruesome killing. Philip Barton Key II was mortally wounded in an altercation by a Congressman friend after the latter accused Key of carrying on an affair with his wife. Key was shot and later taken to a home owned by Benjamin Ogle Tayloe. He there succumbed to his injuries.
The Congressman was named Daniel Sickles. Who was the first person to use the defense of temporary insanity successfully in court, he got away scot-free, but was haunted by the ghost of the man he killed in broad daylight in Lafayette Square Park. The man he shot, Philip Barton Key was the son of Francis Scott Key, the man famous for providing the lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner, our national anthem.
4. The Surratt House
Long after her death, she appears to be haunting the house and other locations around the city, demanding we hear calls of her innocence. Today, a Chinese restaurant named Wok N’ Roll occupies the Surratt House, where one of America’s greatest conspiracies was hatched.
3. Decatur House
It was here in this elegant neoclassical style house that Naval hero, explorer, and captain of several US warships Commodore John Decatur met his demise. He was challenged to a duel by a man he had been responsible for banishing to the Nordic countries for over 5 years, he had stripped him of his rank, and his pay and continued to speak ill of him while he was in exile. One of the most unique features of the house is the boarded-up windows. It was said that the ghost of the Decatur House was seen looking out one of these windows so often that they were bricked up.
2. Cutts-Madison House
The mortgage of the home was given to then former President James Madison in 1828. The 4th President of the United States would later die at his Virginia residence known as Montpelier in 1836. The later building became the Cosmos club, which started as a gentleman’s club, whose slightly inebriated members could be seen doffing their hats to an unseen woman on the porch of the building.
1. Hay-Adams Hotel
It was originally two houses, of John Hay and Henry Adams, both were active statesmen in Washington, D.C. Henry Adam’s wife Marian Hooper Adams, or “Clover”, committed suicide on December 6, 1885, at the house. Marian was a photographer in her own right. She used a chemical known as potassium cyanide for developing her photographic work. However, it would also be responsible for her death as she swallowed a lethal amount following a bout of depression following the death of her father, and several rumored infidelities by her husband.
Her ghost is quite active in the Hay-Adams hotel, walking down corridors, leaving the lingering almond scent of potassium cyanide distinctive, especially around the month of December, the anniversary of her death. Don’t let the presence of Clover detract from the appeal of this hotel, it’s still the place to be seen, and to see for the elites of Washington D.C.