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Here we go with the second installment of October's Spooky Sunday Series...

Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the structure known as the White House was built between 1792 and 1800 in the Neoclassical style and has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams.  Thomas Jefferson moved into the residence in 1801 and expanded the building outward creating two colonnades to conceal stables and storage.  Since then much renovation has been done including a full reconstruction from the fire set by the British Army in 1814 during the War of 1812.

The White House is made up of six stories—the Ground Floor, State Floor, Second Floor, and Third Floor, as well as a two-story basement and is a National Heritage Site owned by the National Park Service and is part of the President's Park.

It also happens to be haunted.


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White House ca 1846 from a Daguerreotype
The White House circa 1846 from a Daguerreotype
The White House is certainly large enough and old enough to qualify as a haunted location and I suppose if it were photographed in just the right conditions then it could even look haunted. However, when you consider the amount of intense energy that was expended within the confines of those wall and you believe the claims of paranormal investigators that that energy can produce a residual haunting, then if any place could be haunted the White House surely would.

Abigail Adams, the first first lady to live in the White House moved into the White House from the former capital in Philadelphia while the house was still under considerable construction. Built so close to the Potomac River on still swampy ground, the first lady found the East Room of the White House to be the warmest and driest and it was there she chose to hang her laundry to dry.  

Abagail's ghost has been spotted walking out of the East Room with arms outstretched as if carrying laundry.  

David Burns, who sold the government most of the land on which the city of Washington--including the presidential residence--was built, has been reportedly heard but not seen.  

FDr's valet, Cesar Carrera heard a voice calling his name as he stood in the Yellow Oval Room. When he turned to see who it was, the voice said, "I am Mr. Burns."  A guard from the Truman administration heard the same thing in the same spot.

Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson is another case of being heard, but not seen.  Mary Todd Lincoln reportedly told friends she had heard Jackson stomping and swearing through the halls of the presidential residence. The Rose Room, Jackson's bedchamber while he was president, is believed by some to be one of the most haunted rooms in the White House.  One of Lyndon Johnson's aides heard the same cursing coming from the Rose Bedroom in 1964 and a White House seamstress once felt Jackson lean over her as she was hemming the bedspread on his bed.

Harry Truman wrote to his wife Bess in June 1945 about the spooky quality of their new home:

"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]."
Lincoln Bedroom in White House
Lincoln Bedroom, ca 1947
Abraham Lincoln's ghost has been the single most reported sighting and it is no wonder when you consider his time as a resident in the White House.  His son, Willie died in the bed that is in the Lincoln bedroom, his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln regularly held seances in the White House and Lincoln's life was tragically and violently cut short by an assassin's bullet.

Lincoln himself is reported to have had some psychic ability as evidenced in his prophetic dream of his own assassination.

President Lincoln's dream as he reported to his close friend, Ward Hill Lamon:

About ten days ago, I retired very late. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room. No living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds met me as I passed alone. I was puzzled and alarmed. Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room. Before me was a catafalque on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng or people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. "Who is dead in the White House?" I demanded of one of the soldiers. "The president," was his answer. "He was killed by an assassin."
Most notably, sightings of Lincoln's ghost were frequently reported during the long administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-45), who also presided over his country during a time of great upheaval. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt used the Lincoln Bedroom as her study, and spoke of the sense of someone watching her as she worked in the room. She believed Lincoln was there with her.  A young clerk in the Roosevelt White House claimed to have actually seen the ghost of Lincoln sitting on a bed and pulling off his boots.  While spending a night at the White House during the Roosevelt presidency, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was awakened by a knock on the bedroom door. Answering it, she was confronted with the ghost of Abe Lincoln staring at her from the hallway.

Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman all reported unexplained knocking on their bedroom doors.  Why they all believed it was President Lincoln is unknown.

Calvin Coolidge's wife reported seeing on several occasions the ghost of Lincoln standing with his hands clasped behind his back, at a window in the Oval Office.

During one of Winston Churchill's visits to the United States during WWII, he spent the night in the White House. Churchill loved to retire late, take a long, hot bath while drinking a Scotch, and smoke a cigar and relax. On this occasion, he climbed out of the bath and naked, but for his cigar, walked into the adjoining bedroom. He was startled to see Abraham Lincoln standing by the fireplace in the room, leaning on the mantle. Churchill, always quick on the uptake, blinked and said "Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage." Lincoln smiled softly and disappeared.

Seamstress, Lillian Rogers Parks once investigated the sound of someone pacing an upper level of the White House. A staff member told her the room in question had been unoccupied, and "that was old Abe pacing the floor." Psychics have speculated that Lincoln's spirit remains in the White House to be on hand in times of crisis, as well as to complete the difficult work that his untimely death left unfinished.

There have been no sightings of Abe Lincoln's spirit since the renovations to the White House during the Truman administration.

The Engine "Nashville".  Lincoln's Funeral Train (1865)
Even the Funeral Train that carried Lincoln's remains is reportedly a ghost train.

On April 21, 1986 the "Nashville" funeral train, dubbed "The Lincoln Special" with Lincoln's portrait fastened to the front of the engine left Washington DC at 12:30 pm and travelled 1,654 miles to Springfield, Illinois, arriving on May 3, 1865.  On board along with the President's remains were the remains of Lincoln's son, William Wallace Lincoln, who had died in the White House at the age of 11 from typhoid fever; eldest son, Robert and approximately 300 people.  

The Legend of the Lincoln Ghost Train gives an accounting of various spectral sightings that occur in April, the anniversary of the train's passing.

If ever there was a soul who could not rest in peace, then it must be President Abraham Lincoln. Robbers attempted to steal his body in 1876 and this poor soul has been exhumed and reburied a total of 17 times.

Abraham Lincoln's Body Exhumed and Viewed in 1901.  Needing repair, the tomb of President Lincoln in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, was moved to a temporary grave a few feet away while a 15 month reconstruction took place.

Once all was ready for reburial on September 26, 1901, the coffin was opened for final identification.  The coffin was then lowered into the cage and 4,000 pounds of cement were then poured down covering the cage and casket.  Mr. Lincoln lies buried 10 feet beneath the floor of his tomb that is visited by more than 1,000,000 people a year.

A few books on this subject that may be of interest to you:

Stealing Lincoln's Body

The Lincoln Funeral Train

Who's Haunting the White House?

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to MOT - Morning Open Thread on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 03:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by J Town and Community Spotlight.

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