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As we all know, the White house is an iconic building with a history of so many historical events. What few people may realize, though, is that the White House is perhaps one of the most haunted places in the United States. Numerous public officials and staff members have recounted stories of bizarre occurrences or eerie sightings. President Harry Truman once wrote to his wife that ‘[t]he damned place is haunted sure as shootin’.’ This list details the specific areas that supposedly see the greatest amount of ghostly activity at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
10. The Attic
William Henry Harrison holds the dubious distinction of being the shortest-serving president and the first to die in office, succumbing to pneumonia a mere month after his inauguration. However, subsequent residents have believed that Harrison’s ghost still haunts the White House attic, rummaging around for something unknown.
Several presidents have reportedly heard the unexplained noises coming
from the attic above the Oval
Others report that Harrison is not alone. A Truman-era security guard once reported hearing ‘I am David Burns’ coming from the attic above the Oval Office. In 1790, David Burns was the man forced to surrender his land so that the White House could be built.
9. The Rose Garden
The Rose Garden is one of the
commonly used sites for presidential announcements. It is also the site of a particularly creepy haunting.
The garden was originally planted by First Lady Dolley Madison in the early 1800s. A century later, when
First Lady Ellen Wilson requested that the garden be dug up, garden workers reported that Madison’s ghost appeared and prevented them from destroying her garden. Since
that time, other White House
insiders have reported an occasional and inexplicable smell of roses in the White House. These instances are
often credited to Madison’s ghost.
8. The Basement
White House lore tells of something particularly dire lurking in thebasement.
Unlike other areas of the White House that are inhabited by spirits of figures from American history, the basement is said to be the home of a ‘demon cat.’ Those who have reportedly seen the cat claim that it first appears as a small kitten, but as you get closer it becomes a larger and larger phantom beast. According to the legend, many years will pass with no one encountering the demon cat, but, when it does appear, it serves as a warning of a great national disaster. The demon cat was supposedly sighted shortly before the great stock market crash of the 1920s and right before President Kennedy’s assassination.
7. The Second Floor Halls
The second floor of the White House is the residence for the First Family, so many of the stories that emerge about this area come from presidents and their families. One of the most frequently reported White House ghosts is President Abraham Lincoln, and the second floor hallways are some of his
favorite haunts. Lincoln has been
seen or heard by many residents,
including First Lady Eleanor
Roosevelt. President Truman once claimed to have heard Lincoln pacing the hallway and knocking on his bedroom door. It’s not just Lincoln in the halls – President William Howard Taft became the first person to report seeing the ghost of First Lady Abigail Adams, who he saw floating through doors on the second floor.
6. The Second Floor Bedrooms
Various bedrooms on the second
floor are used for the president’s
family and other guests. One
husband and wife pair reported that the ghost of a British soldier tried to set fire to their bed. It is
presumed that this soldier was the man who set fire to the White
House during the War of 1812. In
addition, President Lyndon B.
Johnson’s daughter Lynda once
reported seeing the ghost of
Lincoln’s son Willie, who had died in the very room in which she was staying. Other reported activity includes the ghostly screams of President Grover Cleveland’s wife, the first woman to give birth in the White House. Following renovations in 1952, activity in the bedrooms has decreased significantly.
5. The Yellow Oval Room
During Lincoln’s administration, this room was his personal library and one of his favorite rooms in the White House. Numerous White House
employees have reportedly seen
Lincoln gazing out the windows of this room. First Lady Grace Coolidge also claimed to have seen him here.
In addition to Lincoln, the
disembodied voice of David Burns (from #10 on this list) has been heard from this room. First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln also reported seeing the ghosts of both Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Tyler here.
4. The North Portico
The White House entrance has a
number of notable ghost fixtures. A torch-wielding British soldier (likely the same from #6 on this list) is often seen standing outside the front door. People have also reported seeing long-deceased White House ushers and doormen still tending to their duties. Perhaps most bizarre is the ghost of Anne Surratt, whose mother Mary was hanged in 1865 for her role in the Lincoln assassination. Anne’s ghost has been spotted
pounding on the White House doors begging for her mother’s release.
She is also reported to sit on the
front steps every July 7, the
anniversary of her mother’s
3. The East Room
The East Room is the favorite haunt of Abigail Adams’ ghost. During her tenure in the White House, this was the room in which she would hang her laundry. She is often seen in or en route to the East Room with her arms outstretched, as though
carrying a laundry basket. Sightings were particularly abundant during the Taft Administration, but as
recently as 2002 a group of tourists reportedly saw Adams. In addition to her sightings, many people report the faint smell of laundry soap
around this area. Lincoln has also been spotted here, the room in which his body lay in state.
2. The Rose Room
The Rose Bedroom is frequented by its former occupant, President
Andrew Jackson. Numerous White House employees have seen or heard Jackson in the room, often engaged in hearty laughter or swearing
violently. According to White House lore, there is an inexplicable cold spot on the canopy bed in the room where Jackson slept. Among the
most notable reports, Mary Todd
Lincoln claimed to have heard
Jackson swearing and White House seamstress Lilian Parks felt his presence over her, which she recounted in her memoirs about her time in the White House. Not to be outdone, Lincoln has also been spotted here. When Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
stayed in this bedroom, she
answered a knock on the door one night and saw Lincoln’s ghost standing in the hallway.
1. The Lincoln Bedroom
Given Lincoln’s frequent appearance at various places on this list, it is no wonder than his bedroom comes in at #1. Winston Churchill famously refused to sleep in the bedroom ever again after seeing the ghost beside the fireplace. (Churchill, it should be noted, had just emerged from a bath and was completely nude during the encounter.) Beyond those already listed as seeing Lincoln in other places, he has been spotted by: Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, and Dwight Eisenhower; First Ladies Jacquie Kennedy and Ladybird Johnson; and presidential children Susan Ford and Maureen Reagan. Maureen and her husband both saw Lincoln standing beside the fireplace, just as Churchill has seen him. Other guests have reported that lights. in the bedroom will turn themselves on and inexplicable cold spots will occur in the room.
Jayamma Abanobi is a youth blogger passionate about writing. He can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org