PHOTOS: 10 spooky places in DC for Halloween
The Octagon House
The oddly shaped brick mansion was built by the architect of the U.S. Capitol, William Thornton in the late 1700s for a rich Virginia plantation owner. James Madison used the residence, which is in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, as a temporary headquarters after the British burned the White House to the ground in the War of 1812. Visitors say they’ve heard ghostly sounds of rustling silk and ringing bells and seen apparitions dressed in old military uniforms.
The colonial-style brick house just a few blocks away from the White House was the home of the widowed Dolley Madison between 1837 and 1849.
In the late 1950s, the Cutts-Madison house, as it’s known, was slated for demolition to make way for an office building, but personal lobbying by first lady Jacqueline Kennedy helped save the historic building.
Since the mid-1800s, witnesses claim to have seen the ghost of Dolley Madison rocking on the porch on the west side of the home.
The Decatur House
The simple Federal-style brick house on the Northwest corner of Lafayette Square was built in 1816, and its first occupant was Stephen Decatur, the famed U.S. naval hero.
Tales of hauntings have clung to the house’s history ever since Decatur was killed in a duel in 1820. According to urban legend, passersby claimed they could see the pensive figure of Decatur peering out the upstairs windows after his death, eventually leading some of the windows to be bricked over. (However, some experts say those are simply “blind windows,” and the bricks had always been there for architectural reasons.)
Cursed by the Hope Diamond?
Built in 1903 by self-made mining millionaire Thomas J. Walsh, the 60-room mansion was the most expensive private home built in D.C. at the time. Walsh’s daughter Evalyn, lived in the Dupont Circle mansion for many years along with her husband, the publishing heir Edward Beale McLean (The Washington Post’s owner from 1916 until 1933). McLean famously acquired the supposedly cursed Hope Diamond for his wife while they lived in the home. Tragedy and misfortune soon beset the family, of course.
Since the 1950s, the mansion has been the site of the Indonesian embassy. However, an unknown female apparition — perhaps the ghost of Evalyn? — is still reportedly seen trailing down the grand staircase.
The ghost of Marian “Clover” Hooper Adams, the wife of the author Henry Adams (himself the grandson of President John Quincy Adams), is reputed to haunt the halls of the luxury hotel on Lafayette Square. Distraught over the death of her father, Marian Adams committed suicide in 1885 by drinking a fatal dose of potassium cyanide just before she was to move into the Victorian mansion on the land where the famous hotel now sits.
Guests and hotel staff have reported the sounds of a woman sobbing, doors slamming shut and other mysterious goings on.
(Tim Evanson/Wikimedia Commons)
The Congressional Cemetery
A 10-minute drive from the Capitol, tucked away on 35 idyllic acres on the west bank of the Anacostia River, sits the Congressional Cemetery. Built in 1807, the private graveyard is the final resting place for lawmakers, dignitaries, diplomats and veterans. Those interred include William Henry Harrison, Dolley Madison, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Marion Barry.
Among the lore surrounding the cemetery: A dirty pink silk scarf that keeps appearing on the arm of a 12-foot-tall angel statue sitting over the graves of the mother and sister of an infamous 19th-century Capitol Hill madam, Mary Hall.
The Old Stone House
The Old Stone House on M Street is the oldest structure in its original foundation in D.C. — so there are bound to be a few ghosts knocking around, some believe. The house was built in 1765.
Originally a clock shop, the building was being used as car dealership when the federal government bought the property in 1953.
According to myth, people have seen a little old woman tending the fireplace and heard the unexplainable sound of children laughing.
The Woodrow Wilson House
Woodrow Wilson retired to this Georgian Revival brick mansion on S Street in 1921 after the ailing 28th president left the White House in 1921. He died in the house in 1924; his widow Edith Wilson lived in the house until her death in 1961 after which the home became a museum to Wilson’s presidency.
Staff and visitors over the years have reported spooky happenings, including the ghost of the president himself rocking in his chair.
(Jürgen Matern/Wikimedia Commons)
The haunted eighth-floor suite at the Omni Shoreham
The Hay-Adams isn’t the only reportedly haunted hotel in D.C. The Omni Shoreham hotel in Woodley Park has a haunted history the hotel has embraced.
A suite on the eighth floor occupied by a wealthy business owner and his family was the scene of a number of strange and unfortunate incidents, including the mysterious death of a housekeeper and later the businessman’s daughter. The businessman’s family left in the 1970s and the hotel shut off the suite from the rest of the hotel.
Since then, hotel staff have been spooked by a number of strange disturbances, such as unexplained noises, the sound of a piano playing and flickering lights.
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