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White House Haunting

We here at Haunted Realities are fascinated by ghost stories. We like to hear them, read them, and share them. We are going to look behind the easily recognized exterior of the most famous “house” in America. Take a look at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with us and learn about some of the former residents that have stuck around long after their life on earth has ended. Let’s look at the white house haunting.

White House

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History of the White House

The cornerstone of the White House was placed on October 13, 1792, in accordance with plans drawn up by architect James Hoban. It was close to completion when the second president of the United States, John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams moved in on November 1, 1800. It cost $232,372 to build the president’s house in a federal district along the Potomac River.

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Occupants Who Have Not Left. White House haunting

According to numerous different reports collected and recounted on, there are some residents of the White House that are still hanging around. Some are apparitions while others are disembodied voices.

Let’s read about them now, they are:

Abigail Adams who was the wife of the second president of the United States, John Adams (1797-1801) used to hang laundry to dry in the East Room as it was the warmest and driest room in the house. Abigail’s ghost has been seen heading towards the East Room dressed in a cap, and lace shawl, with her arms outstretched as if carrying her washing. Others have said that they smell damp clothing and soap in the East Room.

David Burnes was the man who sold the government most of the land on which Washington, D.C. was built on, including the location where the White House stands. He apparently wanders the halls of the White House and has been heard saying, “I’m Mr. Burnes.” The voice was heard coming from the Yellow Oval Room. It has been reportedly heard by a valet to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a guard who worked at the white house during President Harry S. Truman’s administration.

Andrew Jackson was elected president in 1828. He was reportedly a surly man who like to hold grudges. It has been said that First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln used to hold seances in the White House to communicate with her deceased sons. Mary Todd Lincoln told her friends that she heard Andrew Jackson stomping and swearing in the halls of presidential residence. The Rose Room was Jackson’s bedroom during his presidency and is believed to be one of the most haunted rooms in the White House. Andrew Jackson’s nickname was “Old Hickory” for his toughness and his legendary foul mouth. In fact, his swearing was so common that when he passed away on June 8, 1845, numerous people gathered to show their respect for the late president, Jackson’s agitated African Grey Parrot named Pol began cursing so loudly and clearly that the bird had to be taken outside as it was upsetting the mourners. In (The True Story of Andrew Jackson’s Swearing Parrot) Harry Truman also made reference to Andrew Jackson’s ghost in a letter he wrote to his wife Bess. In June 1945, Truman wrote “I sit here in this old house and work on foreign affairs, read reports, and work on speeches–all the while listening to the ghosts walk up and down the hallway and even right in here in the study. The floors pop and the drapes move back and forth–I can just imagine old Andy [Jackson] and Teddy [Roosevelt] having an argument over Franklin [Roosevelt].” (2009, Ghosts of the White House) It is also reported that one of Lyndon B. Johnson’s aides heard Andrew Jackson cursing in 1964 while in the Rose Bedroom. Seems like Andrew Jackson was an ornery fellow

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president. His life was taken by an assassin on April 14, 1865. First Lady Grace Coolidge was the wife of President Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) and she saw Lincoln standing by a window in the Oval Office looking across to the Potomac River and the former Civil War battlefields that lay beyond. Lady Bird Johnson the wife of President Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969), felt Lincoln’s presence one evening while watching a television show about his death. The most notable sightings of Abraham Lincoln’s ghost were reported during the long Presidential administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945). This was a time of economic depression followed by World War II. Abraham Lincoln’s ghost was busy during this time and would make his presence felt by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt late at night when she worked in the Lincoln Bedroom that acted as her study.

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands heard a knock upon her bedroom door while staying at the White House (likely in the summer of 1942) and answered the door to find Lincoln’s ghost in a top hat. The sight of the apparition caused the Queen to faint. Another well-known guest of the White House during World War II was the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Churchill reported that he emerged, naked, from an evening bath while smoking a cigar to find the ghost of Abraham Lincoln sitting by the fireplace in the bedroom. I bet they both had a bit of a “fright” that night. Abraham Lincoln’s ghost was reportedly seen by the longtime White House staff member, Jeremiah Jerry Smith who began working there in the late 1860’s during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant. Smith worked as a footman, butler, cook, doorman, and official duster at various times during his 35-year career at the White House.

According to Stacy Conradt who wrote 10 Ghosts Lurking at the White House, Lincoln’s ghost has also been seen by the Lincoln Biographer Carl Sandburg, President Teddy Roosevelt, President Herbert Hoover, First Lady Nancy Reagan, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and First Lady Jackie Kennedy. President Abraham Lincoln has certainly cultivated an impressive list of witnesses.

Willie Lincoln was one of the sons of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. His ghost was reportedly seen by White House staff during the 1870’s administration of President Ulysses S. Grant.

The Thing is the ghost of a young boy aged about 15 years that was seen by numerous domestic staff members of President William Howard Taft in 1911. Taft made sure that the staff knew that anyone who spoke of “The Thing” would be fired.

Thomas Jefferson likes to play his violin in the Yellow Oval Room and Mary Todd Lincoln claimed to have seen his ghost doing so.

Dolley Madison the wife of President James Madison (1809-1817) is said to protect the Rose Garden. She is also well known for protecting invaluable pieces of art, china, silverware, as well as a copy of the Declaration of Independence by getting them out of the White House during the War of 1812 during which the White House was set on fire.

John Tyler was the first Vice-President to move up to the role of President because of the death of the president (William Henry Harrison). John Tyler was president from 1841 to 1845 and his ghost has been seen in the Blue Room proposing to his second wife, Julia Gardner. John Tyler who was born in 1790 lived a long life and he had children with both his first and second wife, believe it or not, President Tyler still has two living grandchildren. Now that is cool.

Willian Henry Harrison was the first president to pass away in the White House. Harrison passed away 32 days after giving a two-hour long inauguration speech in the cold January weather of 1841. He is a cautionary tale…to get to the point. It is reported that his ghost haunts the attic of the White House.

Anna Surratt was the daughter of Lincoln assassination conspirator Mary Surratt. Anna’s ghost reportedly bangs on the doors of the White House looking for President Andrew Johnson. Anna’s ghost wants to speak to the president and beg him to spare her mother’s life.

Thomas Jefferson, President, America
Thomas Jefferson

There is a lot of action going on in and around the White House and no doubt some of its occupants, who spent a lifetime getting there, have chosen to stay there after their deaths. Have you been to the White House? Have you read of these ghosts before? Do you believe these tales of White House hauntings? Let us know if the comments section.

Have you been to the White House? Have you read of these ghosts before? Do you believe these tales of White House haunting? Let us know in the comments section.


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6 thoughts on “White House Haunting

  1. Sean Greentree

    Fascinating topic. I never knew the White House was haunted – I’ll spare you any jokes about the incumbent president! I’m coming to Washington next year. I’m assuming I can book a tour of the White House? If so, I’m going to see it in a whole new light. Thanks for sharing. i really enjoyed this post. Thank you.

    • Bill

      I am sure they offer tours. It is a fascinating building with lots of history

  2. Nick

    I never realized how many ghosts roamed the White House. I’d be frightened if I came into contact with them, I think I will stay away from now.

  3. Beth

    This post makes me want to visit the White House. Although I would likely faint if I saw any of the apparitions.

    • Bill

      I believe there is a lot of energy in some of these old buildings even the White House. There must be some that is left behind

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