Capitol Hill: One of D.C.’s most haunted neighborhoods?

'I neither believe nor disbelieve in ghosts. I believe in the power of the stories,' Tim Krepp says. (WTOP/Alicia Lozano)
The tour starts at Hill Center, originally the Old Naval Hospital. The building dates back to 1864 and was created to serve injured Civil War sailors.

Despite its long history filled with "tales of woe," tour guide and local historian Tim Krepp says there are no ghosts here. He just likes starting the haunted Capitol Hill tour at the former hospital because it looks spooky.

"I just can't find a ghost in here and I find that just cruel," he says. "I'm still to this day looking. I'm convinced its haunted." (WTOP/Alicia Lozano)
Standing on the corner of 10th and G streets, Krepp points to an unassuming green house. The street is quiet and idyllic, with mothers pushing strollers down the sidewalk. But this is also the home of Old Howard, one of Krepp's favorite ghosts.

He first appeared in 1871 to the Bonehart family, which started feeling a menacing presence late at night. Candles would suddenly blow out and window shutters would open by themselves. After inquiring about the house's history, the Boneharts learned that a curmudgeonly Marine once lived there. He cursed his family as he died, driving them out of the home. His spirit lingered, however, and terrorized the Boneharts.

A servant reported hearing cackling as she was laying in bed moments before her sheets and night clothes were ripped off. (WTOP/Alicia Lozano)

The Boneharts eventually left the house at 10th and G streets, and all was quiet until the 1920s when Old Howard struck again. This time it was a couple "in bed but not sleeping," according to a newspaper article Krepp read.

Suddenly the lights were turned on, the curtains thrown open and the bed thrust into the middle of the room.

"The couple had to move out and leave in shame," Krepp says.
(WTOP/Alicia Lozano)

Completed in 1806, the U.S. Marine Corps Barracks and Commandant's House is pulsating with ghostly presences, Krepp says. His favorite tale is about Gen. Archibald Henderson, who served as commandant of the Marine Corps for 38 years. He died "rather prosaically" one day just before dinner while napping on the living room sofa. Shortly after, the sightings started.

One Marine's widow reported seeing him next to her bed during a visit to the house. And during World War II, as the new commandant was giving a farewell speech for his son who was about to deploy, Henderson appeared near the buffet table. As the group was discussing the possibility of women serving as Marines, the general came crashing down off the wall.

"He was clearly not a fan of women in the Marines," Krepp jokes. "He came from a different time after all."

To learn about other ghost stories from the commandant's house - and the buried treasure behind it - check out Krepp's new book "Capitol Hill Haunts." (WTOP/Alicia Lozano)

The most common sighting at the District 1 police substation is of an officer from the 1910s dripping wet and entering through the side entrance of the building. No one knows for certain who this ghost is, but Krepp has a theory.

A blizzard hit D.C. March 5, 1909 just as the city was preparing to host President William Howard Taft's inauguration. The police department was overworked that day with preparations, so when Officer J.W. Collier tried to call out sick the captain was furious. He ordered the patrolman to come in immediately to be disciplined.

A struggle ensued and Collier shot Capt. William H. Mathews fives times in the head. He was arrested immediately, but pleaded self-defense in court. Krepp suspects the captain is still haunting his former station. (WTOP/Alicia Lozano)
The Maples, the oldest house in Capitol Hill, has played host to senators and historical figures alike, but it's the wife of Maj. Augustus A. Nicholson that lingered.

Nicholson bought the home at 619 D Street, SE in 1838 and the family lived there for almost 20 years. Despite their happy appearance, Nicholson and wife had a troubled marriage. She accused him of an affair, but he always denied it, Krepp says.

The house was later purchased by Emily Edson Briggs, the first female journalist to receive congressional press credentials. She hosted grand parties, but reported hearing weeping at night and music coming from the grand ballroom when no one else was inside.

"She felt an overwhelming grief in this house, but couldn't put her finger on it," Krepp says. (WTOP/Alicia Lozano)
Briggs eventually became comfortable with whatever, or whoever, was living in her home and over time, the hauntings seemed to dissipate.

Then one morning she woke up and felt like something was missing. Briggs looked around trying to figure out what was wrong and found herself in the room where she often heard disembodied crying. The bed looked neatly made, yet there was an indent like someone had been using it. On top of the pillow sat a single white pearl.

"That was the last she ever felt of the spirit ... [which was] presumably at peace and at rest with everything and left behind a thank you to Emily," Krepp says. (WTOP/Alicia Lozano)
"Capitol Hill Haunts" is filled with local ghost stories. (Courtesy of Tim Krepp)

Alicia Lozano,

WASHINGTON – There is something haunting Capitol Hill, and it’s not just a partisan Congress with a terrible reputation. Ghosts are said to linger in the historic neighborhood, spooking residents and giving locals a glimpse of what life was like hundreds of years ago.

Tim Krepp, author of “Capitol Hill Haunts,” specializes in paranormal tours throughout the region. Georgetown and Alexandria, Va. get most of the supernatural tourism, but Krepp says Southeast D.C. can be just as spooky.

“You move here and you live … among a wealth of historic buildings and structures,” he says. “Not just the Capitol and the Library of Congress, but the row houses, the townhouses.”

Krepp used his skills as a historian to dig deeper into the neighborhood, looking for clues about how the area developed.

“You know there’s stories here,” he says. “You know there must be something behind this that’s beyond what you see.”

What the New York native found was chilling – beds moving on their own, disembodied cackles and a single white pearl.

Krepp’s new book gives a detailed account of Capitol Hill’s ghastly history, but ghost chasers can also check out his haunted tour, which starts at Eastern Market Metro Station and winds through Barracks Row, District 1 police substation and the Maples, Capitol Hill’s oldest house.

For those brave enough to see what goes bump in the night, click through the image gallery.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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