3944 Cameron Street, Dumfries, VA

(703) 221-2218

Status: Former Vestry; Former Residence; Historical Museum


Ghost Tours Available During the Halloween Season


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By Leonard J. DeFrancisci, CC BY-SA 3.0Link


The house was originally used as a vestry for the Quantico Church.

In 1798 the house was bought by Parson Weems who would write the first biography of General/President George Washington in the house. He was the creator of the famous Cherry Tree story in Washington’s legend.

Weems also wrote biographies of other legendary Americans: Benjamin Franklin, Francis Marion and William Penn.

In 1802 Weems sold the house to the lawyer Benjamin Botts who would, famously, successfully defend Vice President Aaron Burr’s infamous conspiracy and treason trial. Botts would die in the Virginia Theater fire in 1811.

The house had many owners until it was purchased by the Merchant Family in 1869. The Merchants would continue as the owners until 1968 or 1969.

The house was then restored and opened as a museum in 1975 or 1976 – depending on which article you read - as part of the upcoming bicentennial celebrations in the United States.


Paranormal Activity

The haunting is thought to date back to when the house was owned by the Merchant family. Two sisters suffered terrible lives of suffering in the house.

Mamie – who probably had epilepsy – suffered from terrible seizures which – in the 19th century – were seen as either madness or possession by the Devil. Most people had 2 choices when they had seizures: exorcism, which usually resulted in the patient’s death, or being locked up for life in a giant insane asylum. Mamie – because her family had money - was locked away for life in an upper bedroom.

Mamie lived 23 years in her lonely room before she died; probably from a seizure.

Mamie’s sister, Violet, escaped the house and was just beginning her life with her fiancé when her father died. Her mother, Annie, demanded Violet return to the family home and take care of her. Annie would live another 46 years stealing all of Violet’s life and freedom. Violet would leave the house only to move directly to a nursing home.

The shadow of Violet is still seen to this day pacing back and forth in her once bedroom late at night. Her phantom crying is also reported; often as loud gasping sobs.

Both Mamie and Violet’s steps are heard on the upper floor by witnesses on the lower floor.

Apparitions of both sisters have been seen in the house many times. There are many stories of them interacting with the living visiting the home and are often mistaken for reenactors.

Other Reported Activity: apparitions of other former residents of the house including a young girl; touches, tugs and pulls by unseen entities; light anomalies; electrical disturbances; disembodied voices and the feeling of not being alone.