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748 Jackson Place NW
Status: Former Residence, Heritage Property and Museum
By <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="https://www.flickr.com/people/36038586@N04">DC Public Library Commons</a> - <a rel="nofollow" class="external free" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/dcplcommons/3422304634/">https://www.flickr.com/photos/dcplcommons/3422304634/</a>, No restrictions, Link
This house is one of the oldest surviving homes in the city. It was named after its first owner Stephen Decatur who came to a tragic end.
In 1820 Commodore James Barron challenged Mr Decatur to a duel over a matter of conduct in the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia in which the British frigate Chesapeake boarded the American ship Leopard that the Commodore was commanding. The Leopard was taken by surprise and had to be surrendered after being boarded by the British.
The Commodore was courtmartialed and stripped of his command. This incident nearly spiraled into another war between Britain and the United States.
Mr Decatur was mortally wounded in the stomach during the duel. He died 2 days later from his wounds in his house.
Today, the house is a heritage property and can be rented out for weddings and other special events.
About a year after his death the apparition of Mr Decatur was seen standing in the second floor of his house looking out of a window at H Street NW.
His apparition was sighted so frequently and by so many people that the window was bricked up - which is its condition to this day.
His ghost is also seen leaving the back door of the house carrying a box with dueling pistols in it.
The phantom sound of his widow still crying is also often reported in the house.
2020 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Status: Former Residence; Heritage Property; International Embassy
By <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/11897392@N04">Josh Carolina</a> - originally posted to <a href="//commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Flickr" class="mw-redirect" title="Flickr">Flickr</a> as <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/11897392@N04/2721056879">Embassy of Indonesia</a>, CC BY 2.0, Link
This house was built by Thomas Walsh between 1900 and 1903 after moving to the United States as a poor immigrant, making and losing a fortune and then becoming a multi-millionaire in mining.
When it was completed the 60 room mansion was the most expensive home in the city at a cost of $835,000 ($20 million in 2012 dollars). An additional $2 million dollars was also spent over the years on the furnishings in the mansion.
Thomas’ daughter, Evalyn, married the heir to the Washington Post fortune and they moved into the mansion shortly before her father’s death.
Evalyn passed away on April 26, 1947 and – to cover her significant debts – Walsh Mansion was sold to the Indonesian government for use as their embassy in 1952 for $335,000 a significant loss compared to its cost to build.
According the Embassy staff the apparition of Evalyn Walsh floats down the grand staircase from time to time.
The apparition of a naked woman walking through the mansion is also seen. No one knows the identity of this woman but she is thought to be a guest from one of the huge parties that were thrown in the mansion’s heyday.
2500 Calvert Street NW
Status: Historical Hotel
By <a href="//commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:J%C3%BCrgenMatern" title="User:JürgenMatern">Jürgen Matern</a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span> (JMatern_090629_3457-3461_WC.jpg), CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
This hotel was constructed in 1930 by a construction company owner.
In 1933 the first inaugural ball for President Franklin D Roosevelt was held here. The hotel also hosted inaugural balls for all the Presidents for the reminder of the 20th century.
The Beatles rented out the entire 7th floor of this hotel when they played in Washington on their first American tour.
Although its ratings from the travel sites seem to have dropped in the last few years this hotel is a huge part of the history of the city and an important cultural landmark.
Just don’t stay in Suite 870 unless you’re up for bunking with a ghost.
Henry L Doherty was a minor financial partner in the hotel when he and his family moved into what is now Suite 870. This also included their maid – Juliette Brown - who died in the apartment within a few months of the movie.
Just for clarification it was the maid who died and not their daughter as some stories have said. Neither Doherty’s daughter or wife died in the apartment.
The Dohertys moved out and for 50 years their apartment remained vacant. During that time there were some complaints of noises coming from the apartment by guests staying in neighboring suites.
After 50 years – in 1997 - the hotel converted the former apartment into Suite 870. There are hearsay reports a worker fell to his death while working on the conversion.
Guests and staff have reported paranormal activity from the suite ever since. The hotel now refers to the suite as the “Ghost Suite”.
Phantom whispers of voices are heard. Doors open and close on their own and cold breezes move through the suite with no open windows. Televisions and lights turn on and off on their own.
Staff have reported housekeeping carts moving on the own and furniture in the suite being rearranged when no one has been in the suite. There are also reports of flashing lights and all the dresser and nightstand drawers being pulled out on their own.
There are also still complaints from the neighbors regarding noises coming from suite 870 when no one is occupying it.
Todd Scartozzi, an Omni Hotels manager, stayed in the suite with his family and witnessed a walk-in closet light turning on and off on its own.
The apparition of an older lady in elegant period dress is seen near the elevators. The ghost of a little girl is also seen running in the halls.
(Government Hospital for the Insane)(St Elizabeths Hospital)
1100 Alabama Avenue SE
Status: Former Insane Asylum, Behavioral Health Complex, DHS Office, Coast Guard Headquarters, Being Repurposed
By U.S. Coast Guard (according to <a rel="nofollow" class="external autonumber" href="https://www.achp.gov/sites/default/files/2018-07/StElizabeths.pdf"></a>) - <a rel="nofollow" class="external free" href="https://www.achp.gov/success-stories/st-elizabeths">https://www.achp.gov/success-stories/st-elizabeths</a>, Public Domain, Link
On a side note, Dr Walter Freeman - who pioneered the frontal lobotomy - was once employed here in charge of the morgue. He began his experiments on dead human brains here.
In August 1852 the US Congress released $100,000 for the creation of a hospital for US Armed Forces and the civilians in the District of Columbia for treatment of brain illnesses. Famed advocate for the mentally ill Dorothy Dix - who was friends with the President Filmore – got the Secretary of the Interior to help find a suitable location to build a Kirkbride style asylum.
Construction was begun in 1853 with the East and West wings built before the Center section that tied the 2 wings together. In January, 1855 patients began to be admitted and 2 more buildings – one for male patients and one for female patients – were built to house the African-American population. Segregation was alive and well in 18th century America.
The hospital was officially named Government Hospital for the Insane. Initially – and due to the Civil War - most of the hospital was used as a General Hospital for recovering soldiers and sailors. The name St Elizabeth was used by the Army to separate its facilities from the Psychiatric Hospital.
From the Civil War to the First World War the Army part of the facility took to using the St Elizabeths Hospital although the apostrophe was always left out.
In 1940 ownership of the full institution was transferred to the Federal Security Agency as a US Public Service Hospital. By the 1950’s the hospital was running at its maximum level with over 8000 patients and 4000 staff.
With the advent of designer meds and the 1963 Community Mental Health Act society began to move toward outpatient clinics and group homes – the end of the giant asylum era. In 1967 ownership was passed to the National Institute of Mental Health and the population of the hospital began to decrease dramatically.
The 1980’s brought further decreases in patient populations and the entire East Wing was closed for hospital operations. Even the West Wing was operating at a very diminished capacity.
Today a new hospital East Campus holds the remaining psychiatric patients – about half being civil patients and the other half being forensic (criminally insane). The East Wing has been repurposed into mixed use rentals and a sports arena.
The West Campus – home to the Center Building – was completely reconstructed keeping the original façade and become the home to the Dept of Homeland Security including the Coast Guard.
In April 2020 DHS moved to its operations to the Emergency Operations Center in Mount Weather due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This facility is partially abandoned but also a functioning psychiatric hospital as well as government offices approaching without permission is inadvisable.
Apparitions of former patients and staff – some of which have interacted with the living.
Disembodied voices, phantom footsteps and other unexplained noises including groans, laughter, screams and loud bangs.
Poltergeist activity including objects moving around, objects being thrown at people and doors opening and closing on their own.
Temperature fluctuations, light anomalies, mysterious mists, feelings of unease, being watched, not being alone and not being wanted.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Status: Government Building; Residence of the President of the United States of America
By <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="https://www.flickr.com/people/76562640@N00">Rob Young</a> from United Kingdom - <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/rob-young/5946416608/">The White House</a>, CC BY 2.0, Link
In April of 1789 when George Washington was inaugurated as the First President of the United States of America his executive mansion and office were 2 houses in New York City. This was, of course – during the 2 year term when New York City was the Capital of the Country.
The Capital was then moved to Philadelphia for a 10 year period while the 1790 Residence Act allowed the new Federal District to be built on the shores of the Potomac River. President Washington retired after 2 terms and was replaced by John Adams who continued to live in Philadelphia until November 1, 1800.
The corner stone for The White House was laid at noon on October 13, 1792. Designed by James Hoban the building was built mostly by African-Americans – both enslaved and free – as well as European laborers. The structure was ready for occupancy on November 1, 1800 – at a cost of $232,371 (3,710,000 in 2021 USD) and President Adams moved in with his family and staff.
Originally there were many names for the building including the President’s House, the President’s Palace and the Presidential Mansion. The first recorded use of The White House was after the burning of Washington starting a rumor that it was painted white to hide the burn scars on the walls. The first President to refer to it as The White House was the 26th – President Theodore Roosevelt.
President Thomas Jefferson replaced Adams in 1801 and – despite remarking many times that the house was already too big – added the colonnades on either side that now link the main building to the East and West Wings.
In 1814 the British set Washington and The White House on fire in retaliation for the burning of York (now called Toronto) in Upper Canada. This began another legend that the Canadians burned The White House which is both true and untrue. The British burned The White House but they were troops from British North America which would become Canada in 1867.
The fire was not put out until both a hurricane and a tornado passed through the city.
The interior of the building was completely gutted leaving only the exterior walls; which were unstable and torn down excepting the South Wall. The house was rebuilt between 1814 and 1817. President James Madison lived in the Octagon House and then the Seven Buildings while The White House was re-built during the rest of his term.
By the term of President Abraham Lincoln The White House was becoming very crowded and the location near swamplands was considered dangerous to the health of the President and his family and staff – due to malaria from the mosquitos. At first multiple sites were put up to move the residence to but all were eventually rejected by Congress.
In 1881 when President Chester A Arthur took office, he began major renovations including removing almost all the furniture and selling it at auction.
In 1902 the West Wing was built – the East Wing wasn’t built until 1942 – and first used only for official functions. When President William Howard Taft took office in 1909 he increased the size of the West Wing including building the first Oval Office.
In the 1930’s President Franklin Roosevelt added a second story to the West Wing and moved the Oval Office to it’s current position: beside the Rose Garden.
By 1948 – during the term of President Harry Truman – age and sloppy maintenance had brought the house to a state where it was declared in imminent danger of completely collapsing. President Truman moved to the Blair House and The White House was gutted and completely reconstructed with a new steel frame, new interior and sub-basements including a bomb shelter.
In the early 1960’s First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy – wife of President John Kennedy – undertook a massive redecoration and restoration of The White House.
In 1961 Congress declared The White House a museum meaning the President could declare anything inside of historic or artistic value and, therefore, could never be sold. Anything labeled as such would have to be stored in the Smithsonian Institute and could be brought back to The White House at any time.
There have been no major changes – ie gutting and total re-building – of The White House since the Truman Administration and any major changes now have to be run by a Congressional Committee.
President Richard Nixon built the existing Press Room over President Franklin Roosevelt’s swimming pool and added a bowling alley. President Jimmy Carter added the first computers and laser printers. President HW Bush added solar panels for heating water and President Barack Obama added solar panels for heating the President’s living quarters.
The ghost of President Abraham Lincoln is, by far, the most famous haunting of The White House. It is thought he haunts The White House due to unfinished business as his life was cut short by his assassination and to be available in times of great need.
Lincoln was first reported as being seen by First Lady Grace Coolidge – wife of President Calvin Coolidge – standing in the Yellow Oval Room. He was looking over the Potomac River toward what would have been Civil War Battlefields in his time.
During the term of President Franklin Roosevelt, Lincoln was felt and seen multiple times. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt used the Lincoln Bedroom as her study and reported feeling the former President’s presence many times when she was up working late into the night. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom and reported emerging from his evening bath naked, lighting a cigar and seeing Lincoln sitting by the fireplace. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands heard a knock at the bedroom and opened to find Lincoln standing there – she fainted from the experience.
Margaret Truman – daughter of President Harry Truman – used the Lincoln Bedroom as her bedroom and reported being woken many times by phantom knocks at the door.
First Lady “Lady” Bird Johnson – wife of President Lyndon Johnson – is said to have felt Lincoln’s presence in the room with her when she was watching a tv show about his death.
President Ronald Reagan is reported to have said that his dog would go into any room in The White House except for one; the Lincoln Bedroom. The dog would just stand outside of the bedroom and bark.
President Theodore Roosevelt, Maureen Reagan – daughter of President Ronald Reagan – Lynda Bird Johnson – daughter of President Lyndon Johnson - and Mary Eben – Eleanor Roosevelt’s Press Secretary – have all reported seeing Lincoln’s ghost in the White House.
Lincoln is most often said to appear when the United States is in peril – World War II in the time of Franklin Roosevelt – and is most commonly seen and heard walking the second floor hallways, in his former bedroom and staring out of windows.
First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln – who was very spiritual and interested in the occult – held many seances in The White House attempting to communicate with her son who had passed away is said to have heard the ghost of President Andrew Jackson swearing and stomping around. The Rose Room – which was Jackson’s bedroom – is said to be one of the most active rooms in the entire building. She also heard President Thomas Jefferson playing his violin.
President Harry Truman – based on his writings at least – was very aware of the ghosts in the building. He wrote of phantom footsteps, drapes and other objects moving on their own, phantom knocks on his bedroom door and the floors creaking when no one alive was walking on them.
The ghost of President William Henry Harrison – he was only President for 31 days – is said to haunt The White House attic and his phantom footsteps are heard as walks around up there seemingly looking for something.
The Blue Room is haunted by President John Tyler and First Lady Frances Cleveland – wife of President Groover Cleveland – both of whom are seen in the room.
The ghost of First Lady Abagail Adams – wife of President John Adams – has been seen since 1818 (shortly after her death) heading towards the East Room her arms outstretched as if she were still carrying laundry. She is clothed in a cap and lace shawl. In the early 19th century, the East Room was the warmest in The White House so Mrs. Adams used it to dry the laundry. Often, she is accompanied with the smell of wet laundry and/or lavender soap.
When Woodrow Wilson was President, he wanted to move the famous Rose Garden but the plans were quickly abandoned when people began to see the ghost of First Lady Dolly Madison – wife of President James Madison – in the garden and thought she was showing her disapproval.
Barbara and Jenna Bush – daughters of President George W Bush - heard the ghostly sounds of a piano playing in their room. This is thought to be the ghost of President Harry Truman.
The ghost of David Burnes – the original owner of the land that is now Washington DC – haunts the building although there are no reports of his apparition being seen. Rather he is known for telling people who he is – a disembodied voice that has been heard many times saying, “I’m Mr Burnes”.
The ghost of Annie Surratt is said to knock on the front doors every July 6 eternally pleading for her mother’s life to be spared. Annie’s mother, Mary, was convicted of helping plan President Lincoln’s assassination and hung to death for the crime.
The apparition of a British soldier has been seen on the grounds holding a burning torch.