The White House
Construction for the White House began in October 1792 and was overseen by President George Washington. The first president to live there was John Adams. It has survived two fires, one in 1814 when the British attempted to burn it down during the War of 1812, and another in 1929. It was given the official name as the "White House" by Theodore Roosevelt in 1901. It is also one of the most famous haunted houses in the world.
What makes the White House's hauntings so notorious is not only the famous people believed to haunt it, but the famous people who have reported having experienced the ghosts. It is their reputations, and not the result of paranormal investigations, that lend credibility to the haunting. Despite never having been investigated by a single paranormal group, it still makes most people's lists of the most haunted spots in the United States including Time magazine's Top 10 Haunted Places and NY Daily News's list of the Most Haunted Places on Earth.
Summary of the Haunting
- Dolley Madison was seen in the Rose Garden (she reportedly saved it from being uprooted).
- Anne Surratt, daughter of Mary Surratt, is seen in the North Portico on July 7th pleading for her mother's life. Mary was convicted as part of the conspiracy to kill President Lincoln and was executed.
- Abigail Adams is seen in the East Room hanging laundry.
- Abraham Lincoln is seen in the Lincoln Bedroom and the Yellow Oval Room (see below).
- Andrew Jackson has been seen and heard in the Rose Bedroom.
- Willie Lincoln has been seen in several rooms.
- David Burns, former owner of the property, and William Henry Harrison have been heard in the attic.
- A torch-wielding British soldier (from 1814) has been seen in several locations.
- Jenna Bush reported she heard 1920's music in her room one night.
Lincoln's spirit remains in Washington in the policies he enacted while in office, the beliefs he held or the hearts and memories of the politicians who still serve there. His spirit also seems to reside at the White House, most commonly in the room that bears his name, the Lincoln Bedroom. Lincoln used this room as a office (as did most presidents before the West Wing and Oval Office was constructed in 1902). The room is now a bedroom and features a bed purchased by Mary Todd Lincoln in 1861.
The room has housed many dignitaries, including Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, who visited the White House during World War II. During the night, she was awoken by the sound of someone knocking on her door. She arose and opened the door, only to see the ghostly figure of Abraham Lincoln. The queen fell into a faint on the floor. When she awoke, Lincoln was gone. Several presidents also reported hearing rapping on their doors including Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman only to be confronted with empty space when they responded.
Winston Churchill is also rumored to have seen Lincoln's ghost. One night he returned to the Lincoln Bedroom to see Lincoln leaning against the mantle above the fireplace. Churchill, who had not bothered to redress after taking a bath, stated, "Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage." Lincoln simply smiled and vanished. After that, Churchill refused to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom whenever he visited.
A housekeeper who worked at the White House for Franklin Roosevelt named Mary Evan claims to have seen Lincoln pulling on his boots in one of the rooms. She responded by running screaming down the stairs. Other people who have claimed to have seen Lincoln's ghost include First Lady Grace Coolidge, Maureen Reagan, daughter of President Ronald Reagan along with many of the people who work at the White House. According to Capricia Marshall, President Bill Clinton's White House social secretary, "A high percentage of people who work here won't go in the Lincoln Bedroom." Eleanor Roosevelt and Carl Sandburg both reported feeling Lincoln's presence in the White House, although they never admitted to see his ghost."
I have yet to discover any paranormal investigations that have been done at the White House.
Books and Articles
- Washington Post article
- "White House Ghosts" by Dennis William Hauck
- " Fright House: Jenna Bush on the Ghostly Music Playing in the Presidential Home Already 'Haunted' by Abraham Lincoln" by Sara Nelson
- Who's Haunting the White House?: The President's Mansion and the Ghosts Who Live There by Jeff Belanger
- Ghosts of the White House by Cheryl Harness
- Oval Office Occult: True Stories of White House Weirdness by Brian M. Thomsen
- Haunting of the Presidents (Kindle Edition) by Joel Martin
The White House is closed to the public, but requests for private self-guided tours can be submitted through one's Member of Congress.
For More Information
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
All material is ©2010 by Darcy Oordt, unless stated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Content cannot be used elsewhere without written permission.