Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Haunted Georgia

A selection of 10 haunted places from around Georgia.

Central State Hospital
620 West Broad Street
Milledgeville

Main Administration Building on the campus of Central State
Hospital, 1937. Photo by L.D. Andrews for the Historic American
Building Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress,
Prints and Photographs Division.
Hospitals, especially those devoted to caring (or not so much) for the mentally ill, tend to be magnets for ghost stories and legends. Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, opened initially as the State Lunatic, Idiot and Epileptic Asylum, was, at its height, the second largest such institution in the nation after New York’s Pilgrim State Hospital. The numerous buildings remaining on the hospital campus attest to the huge numbers of patients that resided in this facility, but they also attest to the severe drop in the same numbers since the 1960s.

Many of these buildings have been abandoned and closed, though intrepid and thrill-seeking teenagers have broken in to “ghost hunt.” Jim Miles’ Weird Georgia publishes reports from a few of these teens who saw apparitions and numerous footprints in the fallen plaster dust (the account describes it as “sawdust”) on the floor. These buildings are sealed, structurally dangerous and not open to visitors. Do not attempt to explore these buildings without securing proper permission.

Christ Episcopal Church and Cemetery
Frederica Road
St. Simons Island
Christ Church, 2008. Photo by Jud McCranie, courtesy of
Wikipedia.

Christ Church and its surrounding cemetery seem the perfect setting for a ghost story: the small white church sitting among ancient graves and oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Of course, this church is home to a legend. In the balmy days before the Civil War a young woman who was deathly afraid of the dark lived on a plantation on the island. Stories from the West Indian slave-woman who raised her had scared her and her fear led her to become adept at candle making. Saving the wax and stubs from old candles around the house, she made candles that would burn in her bedroom throughout the night. One day after her marriage to a local planter, she burned herself while making candles and the burn became gangrenous. After she died, her husband, disturbed by the idea of his late wife’s grave shadowed by darkness, began to nightly place a candle on her grave. Following his death, the candle continued to reappear and still may continue to this day.

City Auditorium
415 First Street
Macon
Macon City Auditorium, 2007. Photo by Macon Dude, courtesy of
Wikipedia.

Opened in 1925 and featuring an assembly hall about the size of the Pantheon in Rome, Macon’s City Auditorium can seat 2,688 in the Grand Hall, all under what is reportedly the world’s largest copper dome. According to Mary Lee Irby, staff members have had some strange encounters within this colonnaded structure. The sounds of parties and music have been heard drifting through the corridors when the building was empty. Two staff members witnessed a grey mist drifting through the balcony.

Heritage Hall
277 South Main Street
Madison

Heritage Hall, 2010. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV, all rights reserved.
Built in 1811, Heritage Hall features a “Ghost Room.” Over the years, numerous odd things have happened to visitors and staff alike in this room. The fireplace features an indelible mark which appears to show a woman holding a baby, possibly Virginia Nisbet and her newborn who died in the room in 1851. The husband of a young couple visiting the house was spooked after he entered the room alone and had someone who he thought was his wife stroke his arm and converse with him. When he realized his wife was not in the room, the couple fled. Others have even seen Virginia lying on the bed in the Ghost Room.

Kennesaw House
1 Depot Street
Marietta

Kennesaw House, 2006. Photo by HowardSF, courtesy of Wikipedia.
Someone once proclaimed that the Kennesaw House has some 700 spirits. While assigning a number is difficult, it does stress the idea that there are likely many spirits within the walls of this building on Marietta’s lovely, historic town square. This 1840s building has witnessed a range of historic events beginning as a cotton warehouse and being converted into a restaurant and later a hotel once the railroad arrived. It was the building’s proximity to the railroad that also brought in Union spies during the Civil War including those who planned and carried out the Great Locomotive Chase in 1862. It seems that the Kennesaw House’s ghosts come from the building’s use as a hospital and makeshift morgue during the war. Some people using the elevator have been shuttled to the basement where a scene of a period hospital is revealed when the doors open. Others have seen the elegant figure of a man who may be the surgeon who treated soldiers there.

Oakland Cemetery
248 Oakland Avenue, SE
Atlanta

The Sleeping Lion of the Confederacy in the Confederate Section
of Oakland Cemetery, 2005. Photo by J. Glover, courtesy of Wikipedia.
One of the oldest cemeteries in Atlanta and the resting place for some of its most famous offspring, Oakland Cemetery is also the resting place for legends and possibly a few spirits. One of the more common legends associated with the cemetery is the story of the “roll call of the dead.” In the Confederate section some have heard what sounds like a military roll call. Another legend is associated with the grave of Jasper Newton Smith which features a life-size statue of Smith sitting in a comfortable chair. Legend says that at night his spirit rises from his chair and watches over the cemetery.

Pirates’ House
20 East Broad Street
Savannah

Pirates' House, 1939 or 1944. Photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Of the haunted places in the state of Georgia, the Pirates’ House is one of the most well known. Opened in the mid-eighteenth century as a tavern for sailors, the building was restored and opened as a restaurant and tourist attraction in the 1950s. During its tenure as a rough sailors’ dive (some pirates may have visited, though hard documentation is difficult to find), the place attracted legends of men being kidnapped, or “Shanghaied,” and forced to work on outbound ships, possibly using a tunnel leading from the basement to the waterfront. The legendary status of the Pirates’ House even led to its inclusion in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island as the location of Captain Flint’s death. Some have even suggested that the fictional Flint’s ghost is among the spirits found throughout the building, but other ghosts, however, are not so fictional.

Servers and staff have encountered a number of apparitions. One cook in the kitchen was accosted by a man in the dress of an 18th or 19th century seafarer who walked through the kitchen pausing briefly to glare at him. Another staff member discovered a lone man in one of the dining rooms while closing up. When he looked in on the man a moment later, no one was to be seen. In the upstairs bar, a server left a tray of coffee pots in the prep room only to have them smashed as soon as she left the room.

Port Columbus National Civil War Naval Museum
1002 Victory Drive
Columbus

Port Columbus Civil War Naval Museum, 2010. Photo by Lewis
O. Powell, IV, all rights reserved.
Columbus, located at the end of the navigable portion of the Chattahoochee River, has always been a major port city. When cotton was king, the plantations in west Georgia and east Alabama sent their bales to Columbus from which it was shipped to New Orleans to be sold. Over time, mills, using the river’s water power, were built that transformed the cotton into goods that were exported to the nation and the world. Columbus, known as the “Lowell, Massachusetts of the South,” during the Civil War was a vital industrial city for the Southern cause and it was here that ironclad warships were built for the Confederate Navy. When Union General James Wilson attacked the city in 1865, two ironclads, the CSS Muscogee and CSS Chattahoochee, were scuttled in the river only to be recovered in the 1960s. The National Civil War Naval Museum was opened in 2001 to preserve the remains of these ironclads and document the history of the navies of the Civil War.

A female visitor standing in the gift shop of the museum was smacked in the back between her shoulder blades by a book that flew off the shelf, a common occurrence in the gift shop. During an investigation, a group of investigators in a museum exhibition room were touched by a spirit.  

Sibley Mill
1717 Goodrich Street
Augusta
Sibley Mill, date unknown. From the Historic American
Engineering Record, Prints and Photographs Division,
Library of Congress.

The Sibley Mill stands as a monument showing the entire history of the manufacturing industry in the South. The site was once occupied by the Confederate Powder Mills, built by the Confederate government when they needed a source for gunpowder in the South. Following the South’s defeat, all but the large chimney of the mill was demolished. In 1880, a group of investors formed the Sibley Manufacturing Company and building from the bricks of the demolished powder works; a phoenix rising from the ashes. As manufacturing has left the South and nation, the Sibley Mill closed in 2006. The mill still sells power produced by its water turbines while the building is awaiting redevelopment. The murder of a mill worker in 1906 has left a spiritual mark on the Sibley and employees often spoke of seeing a lone young woman quietly working at her loom.

Smith Hall
Campus of LaGrange College
LaGrange
Smith Hall, 2010. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV, all rights reserved.

Chartered by the state legislature in 1831 as LaGrange Female Academy, LaGrange College, now a coeducational liberal arts college, is the oldest private college in Georgia. Originally housed in a house on Broad Street, the school moved to “The Hill,” just down the street in 1842 and Smith Hall was constructed that same year. Now the centerpiece of a school with some 1000 students, Smith Hall now contains classrooms, offices for a few departments and the dean of student life and quite possibly a few ghosts.

Legend has it that Smith Hall served as a hospital during the Civil War. A young soldier, wounded in a nearby battle, rode miles to get to the school where his sister was enrolled. Having bled the entire trip, he died in Smith Hall shortly after his arrival. The student government has invited celebrity ghost hunters and psychics to the school to speak and do a brief investigation during the Halloween season. Some investigations have produced results.

Sources
Akamatsu, Rhetta. Haunted Marietta. Charleston, SC:
     The History Press, 2009.
Bender, William N. Haunted Atlanta and Beyond. Toccoa,
     GA: Currahee Books, 2008.
Brown, Alan. Haunted Georgia. Mechanicsburg, PA:
     Stackpole Books, 2008.
Caskey, James. Haunted Savannah: The Official Guidebook
     To Savannah Haunted History Tour, 2008. Savannah,
     GA: Bonaventure Books, 2008.
Chitwood, Tim. “Eerie occurrences at naval museum.”
     Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. 10 August 2009.
Chitwood, Tim. “Stroke of the ghost?” Columbus Ledger-
     Enquirer. 23 August 2009.
“City Auditorium.” Macon Centreplex. Accessed
     28 December 2010.
Dolgner, Beth. Georgia Spirits and Specters. Atglen, PA:
     Schiffer, 2009.
Durrence, Debby. “’Ghost chasers’ get spooked at LC.”
     LaGrange Daily News. 23 October 2006.
Edgerly, Robert. Savannah Hauntings! A Walking Tourist
     Guidebook. Savannah, GA: See Savannah Books, 2005.
Hall, Kristi. “Haunted Hot Spots.” Lakelife Magazine.
     Fall 2008.
Irby, Mary Lee. Ghosts of Macon. Macon, GA: Vestige
     Publishing, 1998.
Johnson, Scott A. The Mayor’s Guide to the Stately Ghosts
     Of Augusta. Augusta, GA: Harbor House, 2005.
Joiner, Sean. Haunted Augusta & Local Legends. Coral
     Gables, FL: Llumina Press, 2002.
LaGrange College. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 28 December 2010.
Macon City Auditorium. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 28 December 2010.
Miles, Jim. Weird Georgia. NYC: Sterling Publishing,
     2006.
Mills, Frederick V., Sr. “LaGrange College.” New Georgia
     Encyclopedia. 17 February 2009.
     Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 28 December
     2010.
National Park Service. Sibley Mill and Confederate Powder
    Works Chimney. Accessed 28 December 2010.
Oakland Cemetery (Atlanta). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 28 December 2010.
Payne, David H. “Central State Hospital.” New Georgia
     Encyclopedia. 10 February 2006.
Roberts, Nancy. Georgia Ghosts. Winston-Salem, NC:
     John F. Blair. 1997.
Sibley Mill. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 28
     December 2010.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Haunted Florida

A selection of 10 haunted places from around Florida.

Boston House
239 South Indian River Drive
Fort Pierce
Boston House, 2009. Photo by Sebas Torrente, courtesy of
Wikipedia.

Originally named Cresthaven, construction on Boston House was completed in 1909. The home, built at the cost of $6000, was built by William T. Jones with the settlement from a railroad accident in which he was involved. After Jones lost the house during the Great Depression, it became a bed and breakfast and acquired the name Boston House after nearby Boston Avenue. It was during this time that a tragedy occurred to a visiting family. Aleacon Perkins, his son Timmy went fishing while his wife stayed behind. Authorities were alerted when they didn’t return and Mr. Perkins’ body washed ashore the following day. Timmy’s body was never found. A female spirit in the house has been identified as Mrs. Perkins, still mourning the loss of her husband and son. Other spirits in the house may include Native Americans who once lived in the area.

Coral Castle
28655 South Dixie Highway
Miami
The Coral Castle, 2005. Photo by Christina Rutz, courtesy of
Wikipedia.

Edward Leedskalnin, a small Latvian immigrant weighing less than a hundred pounds, singlehandedly built Coral Castle using humongous coral blocks he quarried, carved and moved himself in the dark of night. When visitors would ask how he did it, he would only answer, “It’s not difficult if you know how.” This has given rise to numerous theories of how this massive complex was constructed including the help of aliens. The mystery of this site includes not only includes the construction, but ghosts as well. Sensitives visiting the site have reported energy vortices and photographs have captured shadowy figures.

Deering Estate
16701 Southwest 72nd Avenue
Miami
The Richmond Cottage (left) and the Stone House (right) on
the Deering Estate, 2008. Photo by RossF18, courtesy of
Wikipedia.

Building on a Native American burial ground is never a good idea. Charles Deering, son of the founder of the Deering Harvester Company (later International Harvester), purchased this 444-acre estate as a winter home. The estate was acquired by the State of Florida and Miami-Dade County in 1985 which has preserved it as a cultural and educational facility featuring tours of the historic homes and natural areas. The Deering Estate also features ghost tours of the estate that the League of Paranormal Investigators (LPI) dubbed, “ground-zero for lost spirits.” LPI has documented at least two full-bodied apparitions as well as numerous EVPs, some of which may be related to the Natives Americans buried throughout the property.
Hotel Blanche
212 North Marion Street
Lake City
Old postcard of the Hotel Blanche, no date.

For decades, travelers heading down Highway 441 from Georgia to Florida would stop at the luxurious Hotel Blanche in Lake City, among them, gangster Al Capone on his way to Miami. As the hotel’s clientele dwindled towards the middle part of the 20th century, the hotel began to deteriorate. The ground floors have remained occupied with businesses and the second floor has occasionally been used for office space and meetings, but the third floor has not been in use for some time. As are many hotels, the Blanche is inhabited by a number of spirits that produce a variety of phenomena including disembodied footsteps and voices, the sounds of children playing and doors opening and closing by themselves. At this time, the Hotel Blanche hopefully is about to experience a renaissance as the City of Lake City is about to restore it.

Miami International Airport
2100 Northwest 42nd Avenue
Miami
Miami International Airport, 2007. Photo by Jason Walsh,
courtesy of Wikipedia.

It’s not unheard of that an airport could be haunted. An airport may be the last place that a plane may board before an accident or perhaps a destination that is not reached. Either way, an airport may attract spirits. Miami International was the destination for Eastern Airlines Flight 401 on December 29, 1972. As the plane flew over the Everglades on its approach to the airport, it crashed killing 77 including both pilots. While the plane never arrived, legend speaks of the form of the plane’s captain, Robert Loft, being seen in the airport near where the ticket counters for Eastern Airlines once stood and disappearing into the old Eastern concourse.

In the annals of paranormal phenomena, this plane crash is the focus of many stories. Stories abound of the appearance of the captain and 2nd Officer Don Repo on planes that utilized parts recovered from the crash site. After these stories began to surface, Eastern Airlines reportedly removed all these parts from service. Additionally, during the recovery efforts for victims, many working in the swamps late at night heard whimpering and sobbing and saw phantom faces in the black water.

Old Christ Church
Adams Street
Pensacola
Old Christ Church, 2008. Photo by Ebyabe, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Historic Pensacola Village consists of a collection of historic and haunted buildings important to the early history of Pensacola including the 1832 Old Christ Church. The churchyard of the church once held the remains of three of its vicars, but during renovations, their graves were obscured. Their remains were recovered recently during archaeological excavations and during their reburial service, one young man witnessed the three vicars walking among the guests.

Old Hamilton County Jail
501 Northeast First Avenue
Jasper
Old Hamilton County Jail, 2007. Photo by Ebyabe, courtesy of
Wikipedia.

Built in 1893 and in use until the latter part of the 20th century, the Old Hamilton County Jail may certainly acquired spirits. Some sources even indicate that hangings may have taken place inside the building which now serves as the Hamilton County Historical Museum. A recent investigation by Northeast Florida Paranormal Investigations included some personal experiences by members of the investigation team including one hearing running footsteps.

St. Augustine Lighthouse and Lightkeeper’s House
81 Lighthouse Avenue
St. Augustine
St. Augustine Lighthouse, 2007. Photo by
Joe Zander, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Perhaps one of the most famous of Southern hauntings and certainly the most famous haunted lighthouse in the U.S., the St. Augustine Lighthouse has provided guidance since 1874. A number of spirits may reside within the precincts of the lighthouse and keeper’s cottage. During an investigation by The Atlantic Paranormal Society televised in a 2006 episode of Ghost Hunters, the team encountered a shadow figure that they chased up and down the steps of the lighthouse even catching, on video, the image of a figure peering over the railing.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Highway 41, Over Tampa Bay
St. Petersburg
Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Photo by the US Department
of Interior.

With such a sunny name, it’s hard to imagine that this bridge has seen more than its share of tragedy. The original bridge, constructed in 1954, was partially destroyed in 1980 when the freighter Summit Venture collided with a support causing part of the bridge to give way and sending some 35 people to their deaths including 26 people aboard a Greyhound bus. Additionally, the bridge had become a mecca for the suicidal and a number of people had jumped from the bridge to their deaths. Among the spirits seen on or around the bridge are a young woman poised to jump, another young woman (perhaps the same as the jumper) who is the focus of a series of vanishing hitchhiker stories and the Greyhound bus, seen on the fishing pier next the bridge which was part of the original bridge, as it continues its drive towards eternity.

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
6400 North Ocean Shore Boulevard
Palm Coast
One of the majestic oaks at Washington Oaks Gardens State
Park, 2008. Photo by Averette, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Settled initially by Native Americans and then by the Spanish in the late 18th century, the land that is now Washington Oaks Gardens State Park became the site of a plantation in 1818. The daughter of the plantation owner married a relative of George Washington and later the gardens, sans the plantation house that burned, were renamed Washington Oaks. Strange lights have been seen in the vicinity of the plantation home and some poltergeist activity has been experienced in the park’s visitor’s center.

Sources
Arteaga, Allison. “Paranormal investigators help North
     Florida.” The Gainesville Sun. 16 October 2010.
Boston House. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed
     27 December 2010.
Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted South. Jackson, MS:
     University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
Charles Deering. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed
     27 December 2010.
Charles Deering Estate. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 27 December 2010.
Cohen, Howard. “Ghost Busters.” The Miami Herald. 20
     September 2009.
Coral Castle. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed
     27 December 2010.
Eastern Airlines Flight 401. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 27 December 2010.
Episode 219. “St. Augustine Lighthouse.” Ghost Hunters.
     Aired 3 May 2006.
Heller, Jean. “Horrific accident created an unforgettable
     scene.” St. Petersburg Times. 7 May 2000.
History.” Friends of Washington Oaks Gardens State Park.
     Accessed 27 December 2010.
Hotel Blanche. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 27 December 2010.
Jenkins, Greg. Florida’s Ghostly Legends and Haunted
     Folklore, Vol. 1. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2008.
Jenkins, Greg. Florida’s Ghostly Legends and Haunted
     Folklore, Vol. 2. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2005.
Jenkins, Greg. Florida’s Ghostly Legends and Haunted
     Folklore, Vol. 3. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2007.
Lapham, Dave. Ghosthunting Florida. Cincinnati, OH:
     Clerisy Press, 2010.
Malone, Kenny. “Miami’s Deering Estate: A real haunted
     house?” NPR. 28 October 2009.
“Miami-Dade Estate deemed ‘severely haunted.’”
     The Miami Herald. 22 October 2009.
Moore, Joyce Elson. Haunt Hunter’s Guide to Florida.
     Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2008.
Northeastern Florida Paranormal Investigators. Investigation
     Report for Old Hamilton County Jail. September 2010.
     Encyclopedia. Accessed 27 December 2010.
Pen. “The Haunted Skyway Bridge in Florida.” Associated
     Content. Accessed 27 December 2010.
St. Lucie Historical Society. Cresthaven. Accessed 27 December
     2010.
St. Lucie Historical Society. Ghost Stories. Accessed 27
     December 2010.
Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 27 December 2010.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Haunted Washington, D.C.

Though I haven’t really touched on it much yet, the geographical region for this blog includes the District of Columbia. When it was established in 1790, the district was not based in a specific state and instead is under the direct supervision of the Federal Government. With the drama that has and continues to occur in this monumental city, it’s no surprise that there are spiritual remnants. The spirits of past presidents, politicians and their families, civil servants and common people are found throughout the city, from the White House to the Capitol and beyond.

Among the more interesting legends of this most legendary city is that of Statuary Hall in the Capitol. The magnificent domed chamber originally served as the chamber for the House of Representatives in the first half of the nineteenth century. When the House of Representatives moved into a new chamber, legislation was put forth to use the room to celebrate prominent Americans with each state adding statues of two of its most prominent citizens. The collection of statues has grown to the point where only 38 are actually located in the hall with the remainder of the collection scattered throughout the Capitol. The legend associated with this room is that on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, the statues all climb down from their pedestals and dance to celebrate another year of the Republic’s survival. According to Dennis William Hauck, the guard who swore he saw this happen was dismissed.

Congressional Cemetery
1801 E Street, SE
Congressional Cemetery, 2008. Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid,
courtesy of Wikipedia.
Established as a private burying ground in 1807, the Congressional Cemetery was not designated as such until 10 year later. It has served as a cemetery for the burial of statesmen and other notables but also as a place to memorialize, with cenotaphs, those buried elsewhere. Two of the more famous burials have sparked legends: John Philip Sousa and Mathew Brady. Sousa, the bandleader and composer known for such patriotic standards as The Washington Post and Stars and Stripes Forever, also invented the sousaphone, a type of marching tuba. Legend has it that the bass tones of a sousaphone are sometimes heard around Sousa’s grave. As for famed Civil War photographer, Mathew Brady, his spirit has been reported wandering among the graves of some of the same government officials who denied Brady compensation for his photographs leaving him destitute.

Decatur House
1610 H Street, NW
Decatur House, 2009. Photo by Tim1965, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Overlooking Lafayette Park and situated just down the street from the White House stands the Decatur House which has recently been opened as the National Center for White House History by a joint effort of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the White House Historical Association. Built in 1818 by Commodore Stephen Decatur, a naval hero of the War of 1812, the house was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, America’s first professional architect. Decatur lived in the house only a little more than a year before he was killed in a duel with Commodore James Barron. Decatur’s spirit has been seen standing at a window perhaps contemplating the duel that would end his life while his wife’s piteous spirit has been heard and felt throughout the house.

Halcyon House
3400 Prospect Street
Halcyon House, 2008. Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Hey, wanna buy a haunted house? The recent real estate bubble has even affected ghosts. Originally listed for sale for $30 million, Halcyon House was relisted earlier this year for $19.5 million and is currently listed for $15 million, half of the original listing price. Built in 1787 by Benjamin Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy, this house was later owned by Albert Adsit Clemons, a nephew of Mark Twain who altered the house considerably. According to Dennis Hauck there has been considerable spiritual activity in the house ranging from full apparitions to rapping, footsteps and even people being levitated.

Independence Avenue
In the vicinity of FAA Headquarters
FAA Headquarters on Independence Avenue, 2009. Photo by
Matthew Bisanz, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Much of early Washington was built on the backs of African-American slaves. Two of the most notorious slave markets, the Williams Slave Pen and the Robey Slave Pen were ironically located along Independence Avenue near what is now the headquarters of the Federal Aviation Administration. Witnesses in the area report the clanking of chains and screams in this area.

Indonesian Embassy
(Walsh-McLean Mansion)
2020 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Indonesian Embassy (Walsh-McLean Mansion), 2008. Photo
by Josh Carolina, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Formerly the Walsh-McLean House, the Indonesian Embassy is an architectural masterpiece that is associated with a famous Washington cursed resident: the Hope Diamond. The diamond, a 45.52 carat blue diamond now housed in the Smithsonian Institute, has an infamous, if partially fictitious, history. Legend has it that the diamond has cursed all hands it has passed through including those of Evalyn Walsh McLean, whose husband Edward presented her with the diamond. Labeled by the press as a “talisman of evil,” the diamond was blamed for a series of misfortunes which befell the family including the death of the McLean’s son in an automobile accident, her husband having an affair, their daughter from an overdose of sleeping pills and Evalyn’s demise from disease in 1947. It is Evalyn’s spirit that is supposedly seen descending the grand staircase of the house.

National Building Museum
(Old Pension Building)
440 G Street, NW
National Building Museum, 2010. Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid, courtesy of Wikipedia.
The faux-onyx Corinthian columns in the National Building Museum, 1918.
Photo by National Photo Company, courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and
Photographs Division.

Some of the first paranormal phenomena witnessed in the 1885 Old Pension Building were odd faces appearing on the simulated onyx Corinthian columns in the main court of the building. In 1917, on the eve of the death of “Buffalo” Bill Cody, a guard saw the veins in the onyx take on the shape of a Native American head and a buffalo. Other faces seen on the columns include George and Martha Washington and eventually got so bad the columns were painted over. Following the painting, the spirits took to the halls in the form of shadowy figures.

Octagon House
1799 New York Avenue
The Octagon House, 2009. Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Described by the National Park Service as “a zenith in Federal architecture in the United States, through its brilliant plan which combines a circle, two rectangles, and a triangle, and through the elegance and restraint of the interior and exterior decoration,” construction on The Octagon began in 1798 and was completed two years later. The house was home to Colonel John Tayloe, one of the wealthiest planters in Virginia and his spirit as well as the spirits of two of his daughters have been seen in the house. One daughter died after plunging over the stair’s railing. Among other spirits reported is that of Dolley Madison who spent time in house when it served temporarily as Executive Mansion after the White House was burned by the British.

Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street, NW
Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2009. Photo by Jurgen Mattern,  courtesy of Wikipedia.

Suite 870 of this 1930 hotel has seen three odd deaths. Juliette Brown, a live-in maid to the hotel’s owner, Henry Doherty and his family, died there unexpectedly as well as Doherty’s wife and daughter some time later. The apartment remained abandoned for some 50 years while guests staying in rooms around the suite would complain of the sound of late-night vacuuming coming from the room. Hotel staff has experienced being locked out of the room, cold breezes and odd noises in and around the haunted suite.

Rock Creek Cemetery
North Capitol Street
Rock Creek Cemetery, 2008. Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Nestled in the Rock Creek Cemetery is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Yard, the oldest burying ground in Washington, DC. Surrounding the churchyard is the nineteenth century Rock Creek Cemetery which houses graves for many of Washington’s elite including Evalyn Walsh McLean who haunts her former home, now the Indonesian Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue. The work of famous American architects and sculptors is scattered throughout the cemetery including a statue by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in a setting by architect Stanford White. The memorial was built by author and historian Henry Adams in memory of his wife, Marian “Clover” Hooper Adams. Commonly known as Grief, Adams hated the name and wrote in a letter to the sculptors son, Homer:
Do not allow the world to tag my figure with a name! Every magazine writer wants to label it as some American patent medicine for popular consumption—Grief, Despair, Pear's Soap, or Macy's Mens' Suits Made to Measure. Your father meant it to ask a question, not to give an answer; and the man who answers will be damned to eternity like the men who answered the Sphinx.
Adams Memorial, 2007. Photo by Dan Vera, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Legend states that visitors near the statue are often overcome with a feeling of despair and others have seen the wraith of Clover Adams near the statue. This sculpture is interesting in the fact that a copy of it, placed in Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikeville Maryland is also associated with a ghost. Druid Ridge has a number of spirits associated with it, but “Black Aggie” is perhaps the best known. The copy of Saint-Gaudens’ sculpture was created by sculptor Edward L. A. Pausch and placed on the grave of the wife of Felix Agnus. For decades the sculpture attracted vandals and the legend grew that the figure’s eyes would glow red and those looking into the eyes were struck blind. Another tale told of a fraternity pledge crushed to death when he spent the night in the statue’s embrace. Disturbed by the activity the statue attracted, the family had it removed and it was given to the Smithsonian and now resides in the courtyard of the haunted Cutts-Madison House on Lafayette Square which faces the Decatur House across the square.

Woodrow Wilson House
2340 S Street, NW
Woodrow Wilson House, 2008. Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The shade of our 28th president, Woodrow Wilson apparently appears in two places: Blair House and his home in the northwestern part of the city. Also facing Lafayette Square near the Decatur, Cutts-Madison and White Houses, all of which are haunted, the Blair House is now the official state guest house. According to Michael Varhola, Wilson’s spirit has been seen rocking in a rocking chair in one of the bedrooms. His spirit is also seen in the home he occupied following his presidency and where he subsequently died in 1924. Wilson’s “slow shuffle” aided by a cane, which he used following a stroke in 1919, has been heard frequently in this house.

Sources
Adams Memorial (grave marker). Wikipedia, the Free
    Encyclopedia. Accessed 22 December 2010.
Beauchamp, Tanya. National Register of Historic Places
     Nomination form for Rock Creek Church Yard and
     Cemetery. Listed 12 August 1977.
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