Monday, October 7, 2013

White House Hauntings

The White House has a long and storied history, first occupied by John Adams in 1800 and rebuilt after the British burned it down in 1814. Forty-three presidents have called 1600 Pennsylvania Ave home, and according to some reports, some never left. The White House is well known for being haunted by at least a few Presidents, first ladies, and others closely associated with the building. I'm just going to take a look at a few of them. One that takes place on the grounds of the White House is The Rose Garden. Dolly Madison first planted the beautiful garden in the early 1800's and it's been around since, because that's the way Dolly likes it! First Lady Ellen Wilson apparently didn't care for the garden and asked that it be dug up. The workers didn't ever finish the job since they claimed Dolly herself prevented them from hurting her precious garden. Apparently the workers were more scared of Dead Dolly than Ellen Wilson, because the Rose Garden is still here today. Workers inside the White House often speak of the smell of roses present in unusual areas of the building. Perhaps it is a warning to all that live in the White House that Dolly Madison will go full on War of 1812 on you if you mess with her roses.

Family and friends of the First Family stay in various bedrooms on the second floor. Many ghostly encounters have been reported from these rooms. One couple staying at the White House claimed to see a British soldier trying to set fire to their bed. Lyndon Johnson's daughter once claimed she spotted the ghost of Lincoln's son Willie, who had died in the very room she was staying in. Screams heard in the rooms have been attributed to Grover Cleveland's wife, the first woman to give birth in the White House. After renovations in the fifties, ghostly claims had fallen significantly in this area of the house.

The East Room is said to be haunted by Abigail Adam's ghost. When she lived in the White House, she used to do laundry in the East Room, which explains why when people see her ghost, they describe her as having her arms outstretched in front of her, as if holding a laundry basket. Sightings of Abigail were abundant during the Taft administration, but her ghost was also seen by a group of tourists in 2002. The Rose Bedroom is a popular spot to see Andrew Jackson, or at least hear him laugh heartily or swear loudly. Seeing as it's Jackson's old bedroom, it's easy to see why he'd show up here. There's even an infamous cold spot located in the canopy bed Jackson slept in. Perhaps the most famous ghost that wasn't part of the Presidential family is that of David Burns, the man who had to give up his land in 1790 to make room for the White House. Several people, including FDR's valet and a guard from Truman's administration have heard a disembodied voice inside the Yellow Oval Room say simply, "I'm Mr. Burns."

Perhaps the most famous haunting of the White House is by the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln's ghost is freaking everywhere. Lincoln has been seen in the second floor hallway pacing back and forth. Truman claimed that Lincoln even went as far as to knock on his door. Lincoln has also been seen inside the Yellow Oval Room, which functioned as his personal library room and one of his favorite places to be. He is often times seen staring out the window. He has also been seen inside the East Room, the room in which his body laid in state. The Rose Room, aka Jackson's bedroom, is the site of probably my favorite Lincoln sighting. While visiting the White House, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands woke up to a knocking at her door. She got up and answered it, only to see Abraham Lincoln staring her in the face. Needless to say, she fainted dead away. The most haunted room in the house is probably Lincoln's bedroom. Several Presidents, first ladies, first children, and heads of state have witnessed Lincoln's apparition inside this room. Winston Churchill famously refused to ever sleep in the room again after he came into it after a shower and found the 16th President standing next to the fireplace. Lincoln's ghost, along with a demon cat that supposedly lives in the basement are said to be seen before a national catastrophe or crisis. Sightings were reported right before the stock market crash in 1929 and Kennedy's assassination in 1963.

Now, these are just fun stories, and I don't give credence to any of them. Well, I guess if anyone was going to have unfinished business, it would be Abraham Lincoln, so maybe he is chillin' at the White House.

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