This Halloween, ghosts creep forth from the darkest corners of the nation’s capitol. The District is home to countless historic homes and buildings within its city limits — places that sometimes carry dark stories and events from years passed. These events left behind unsettled and disgruntled spirits that just won’t let go. These are some of those places.
The Lincoln Bedroom
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Price: free/free tickets are needed only during peak season
The Lincoln Bedroom has long been rumored to be frequented by the ghost of the former president. Before the West Wing and Oval Office were constructed in 1902, Lincoln used the room as an office and it later became a bedroom that showcases a bed purchased by Mary Todd Lincoln in 1861. Over the years, presidents including Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman have reported hearing knocks on the door to the room only to find no one there. A housekeeper for Franklin Roosevelt believes she witnessed Lincoln in the room putting on his boots and promptly made herself scarce. Even Maureen Reagan, daughter of President Ronald Reagan, believes she has seen Lincoln’s ghost. Clinton administration White House Social Secretary Capricia Marshall admitted many workers would not go into the Lincoln Bedroom.
1651-1653 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
This National Historic Landmark is the official guest house of the president of the United States. The house is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of President Woodrow Wilson whose apparition is said to appear in a bedroom rocking chair. President Harry Truman complained of seeing ghosts during his stay at Blair House while the White House was undergoing renovations during the 1940s. Built in 1824 as a private home for Surgeon General Joseph Lovell, the house was later acquired in 1836 by newspaper publisher Francis Preston Blair.
1799 New York Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
Built in 1801 by Col. John Tayloe III, the Octagon House was a very significant home in D.C. The well-connected Tayloe family was associated with presidents and the D.C. elite. Tayloe was a close friend of George Washington, who had convinced him to build a winter home in the city. In recent years, apparitions and unknown entities have been witnessed by the visiting public as well as by curators and employees of the museum that manage the house. The possible reasons: Tayloe’s daughters. Both are said to have died in the home after quarrels with their father over his disapproval of their love interests. Stories claim that both women fell to their deaths down the stairs or over stair railings. The ghost of one daughter is witnessed by some as the light of a candle moving up the stairs, while the other daughter is said to haunt the third floor landing and stairs. It is also believed that the house is haunted by the spirits of slaves who once served there. Ghosts of slaves are said to ring bells formerly used to summon them.
National Museum of Crime & Punishment
Fright At The Museum: Dead Men Walking — Tennessee Electric Chair
575 7th St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
Price: $30/must be at least age 17
Dates: Oct. 19 to 20, 25 to 27 and 31
One of the museum’s soon-to-be popular exhibits is the Tennessee electric chair. In use over a 44-year period from 1916 to 1960, the chair is believed to have been used for the executions of 125 men. One-hundred twenty five lives and possibly souls are forever linked to the chair. It had been in storage at the museum since 2008, but this fall the chair is out on display and — some say — so are the ghosts of its victims. Come see the aging wooden chair and menacing straps that claimed so many lives. Witness this frightful piece of history for yourself.
2340 S. St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Price: $10 adults/$8 seniors/$5 students
This was the residence of President Woodrow Wilson after completing his second term in office. On Feb. 3,1924, Wilson died in the third floor bedroom of the home. Many years later, his wife died Dec. 28,1961 and the house was willed to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In the decades following her death, staff and visitors at the house claim to have witnessed inexplicable things, including sightings of the president’s ghost in his rocking chair, the sounds of a man walking with a cane and even desperate sobs.