The best time to spot a ghost in the White House is at night. Weekdays, Washington D.C. is a crowded, bustling area, but after working hours, it becomes almost peaceful. Secretaries, capital employees, diplomats, and civil servants depart for their homes in the suburbs or in nearby municipalities.
It has been mostly during the hours of darkness that the President of the day, his family, guests or staff members have reported encounters with spectral figures of the former residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Abraham Lincoln is the most frequent apparition. He usually appears in the vicinity of the Lincoln Bedroom or in the second floor hallways. Eleanor Roosevelt’s secretary saw him sitting on his bed pulling off his boots. At different times, he has been observed laying on his bed.
Lincoln has also been reported pacing, or staring through the window of this room or gazing out pensively, hands clasped behind his back, through a window in the Oval Office.
Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was staying in the Lincoln Bedroom when she heard a knock at the door. Opening it, she was confronted by Lincoln himself, top hat and all. The Queen promptly fainted and when she came around, he had disappeared.
Through the years, Grace Coolidge, wife of Calvin Coolidge, Eleanor and Theodore Roosevelt, Susan Ford, Maureen Reagan and Carl Sandburg are among those who have reported seeing, hearing or sensing Lincoln’s presence.
When John Adams and his wife Abigail moved into the White House in 1800, it was not quite completed. The rooms were cold and damp and there was no place to dry the laundry. The warmest and driest place was the East Room so Mrs. Adams hung up her clothes line in there.
Today, she can still be seen periodically, hurrying toward that room with her arms outstretched as though carrying an armful of clothes. The odors of damp clothes and laundry soap have been reported to accompany some of her appearances.
Dolley Madison, the wife of the fourth President, James Madison, planted the original White House rose garden. A century later, Mrs. Woodrow Wilson decided to replace it. When the gardeners came to begin the task, Dolley’s ghost appeared and frightened them off, and not one bloom was touched.
President Andrew Jackson had a canopy bed which still sits in the Rose Room where he slept. White House staff have noted a strange cold spot in the room and some have heard the sound of hearty laughter coming from the empty bed. Mary Todd Lincoln reported a meeting with Jackson’s ghost during which he was stomping around and “swearing up a storm”.
Even the White House basement is reported to be haunted. A Demon Cat (D.C.) is said to appear shortly before a tragic event. A guard claimed to have seen it a week before the stock market crashed in !929. It was also supposedly sighted just before John Kennedy was assassinated.
Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary, was a dedicated Spiritualist. There were as many as eight seances held in White House as she tried to contact her two dead sons, Eddie and Willie. In a letter to her sister, she stated that she had succeeded.
After her husband’s death, she again turned to mediums in the hope of reaching his spirit. Again, she felt she had been successful.
Is it possible that Mary Todd Lincoln’s efforts resulted in opening a portal from the White House into the realm of the hereafter? We’ll probably never know. It’s likely that her husband, Abraham Lincoln, knows but throughout his many return visits to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, one has thought to ask him.
Reference: White House Ghosts
Accessed: June 19, 2009