Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Marine Barracks - Buried Treasure

As British soldiers approached Washington, DC in August, 1814 during the War of 1812, Marines from the 8th and I Barracks joined with sailors from the nearby Navy Yard under the command of Commodore Joshua Barney to help fight them. In the midst of the hurried preparations, two Sergeants were given of guarding the Marine Corp's funds and payroll. As this was of course in the days before a reliable national currency, much less automatic bank deposits, this took the form of a wooden chest filled with gold coins.

Obviously, this posed a problem. How were they to guard this gold against the might of the British Army, especially when they would have to join the rest of their unit in the fight? Unwilling to simply abandon it to the British of looters, the carefully hid it on the grounds of the Marine Barracks.

Unfortunately, in the stout defense put up by the Marines and sailors at the Battle of Bladensburg, both Sergeants were killed and the location was lost to history. However, they remain on guard to this day. Folks have seen the ghostly figures of the two Marines wandering the grounds, looking for the treasure. Some say they are searching for it, unable to remember where it was last seen. Others insist that they are luring treasure seekers away from the real hiding spot, standing their post in death as they did in life.

Marine Barracks - Nichols ghost


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt Memorial/Car bombing


The Argyle House

This house since a large fire in 1984 has been spooked by a human face that often appears looking down from the top story window. It was most frequently seen by contractors who worked until after dark during the renovation that took place in the mid-80's.
Perhaps this is why.
Also known as the mouse house, located in the heart of Washington's Embassy Row, is an integral part of the historic Argyle House, a Beaux-Arts mansion designed by associate architect of the Library of Congress Paul Pelz and built in 1900 for a wealthy, retired Navy captain named Frederick A. Miller. Following a devastating fire in 1984, only a portion of the walls remained; the entire structure was reconstructed with designs by the architect Richard Ridley to replicate the building's original grandeur. Olga's Mouse House was not named for its mouse-like scale, but because it sat in the shadow of a stone cat statue perched on the second-story ledge of the Argyle House.
Before the fire the building had been used as a rooming house for many years. At the time of the fire there was one hold out, an indian gentleman living on the top floor where those windows are. There were lots of rumors about why the fire happened. Some said it was by the hold out who didn't want to give in to the new owner. Others said it was set by the new owner in order to force out the tennant. At any rate, the fellow died. Since then many have seen the face gazing down on them even at times when the house has been vacant. Often the police were called because people thought that someone had broken in and was squatting. No one was ever found in the house, but if any of you live in the neighborhood, you might always glance upward as you're walking past to see if someone is staring back at you.

Joyce Chiang and Starbucks

Joyce Chiang

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Abandoned Embassy Story

Blaine Mansion, Thomas Edison, Westinghouse

Blaine was once a presidential candidate from the Republican Party in the election of 1884. He had this mansion built in 1881. The other notable owner of the house was George Westinghouse who lived in the house from 1901 until his death in 1914.
Edison execute Topsy the elephant
Edison coins the phrase "to Westinghouse" for electric chair execution

Chandra Levy info

Similar account
The Post's Timeline

Cool Pool Story plus Woodrow Wilson's Ghost

Info on the HITT HOUSE MEDALION- the one over the pool of the house on S street above the Spanish steps:

Congressman Robert R. Hitt 1834-1906
Hand picked by Lincoln to take short hand notes during the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates in Illinois in 1858.
He died in 1906. His house which once stood on New Hampshire Ave. was destroyed the Medalions were salvaged and lost for some time.
This house was not built- with the medallions until 1908....

George and Selina Renchard moved one of the medallions to their manse on S. St. They were killed in an automobile accident in Saudi Arabia in 1982( a sandstorm was the decided cause) in a car their son Ronald was driving; he was actually charged with something from it and served a very brief time in the brig there.

Since the placements of the medallions over the pool in the back people who have spent time in the pool area have often decided it was nearly as enjoyable as they had hoped. There's often a eerie feeling of being watched while in this area below the medallion. And often one has a feeling of emptiness and depression the more time they spend in the pool area.

Supposedly another spirit that walks the area of the Spanish Steps is that of a near death Woodrow Wilson. His home is around the corner on S Street and the sounds that became associated with him after his stroke, the shuffling of feet and the thump of his cane as he doddled about have been said to have been heard walking about the spanish steps and the sidewalk between here and his home.

O Street Mansion or Shower Story

When we started researching our plans for this Ghost tour and looking for ghost sightings and stories we wished we had something for the O Street Mansion. Our search led no where and we gave up.
It wasn't until our friend Clift who often gives this tour told of a personal event that happened here at the O Street Mansion. He said about three years ago that a good friend of his saw her dead husband standing on the staircase as if he were still alive.
In 2005 Joe, a reserve police officer was working the intersection of M and Wisconsin Avenue when he was struck and killed by an SUV. He and his wife Ella were the managers of Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown. They had attended many events here at the O Street Mansion. But in 2007 was the first time that Ella had visited the mansion since her husband's death. When she walked in she hung her coat and turned toward the stairs and there stood Joe plain as day staring back at her.
Ella is a very sensible woman so it was a bit of a shock to hear her tell such a tale. But I guess it's one more account that very possibly spirits of the dead remain with us unable to leave those places they frequented in life.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Heurich house

Overview of interior
Ghost sighting account from an intern
The story we told is like this:
This home was once the home of a master brewer named Christian Heurich.
He was quite successful in spite of some bad luck with fires. Over the years, the Christian Heurich Brewery suffered three fires. An 1875 fire was caused by a spark from a chimney. A worker's careless smoking caused an 1883 blaze. Finally, in 1892, a devastating fire was the result of a malt mill explosion. (A spark can ignite the malt dust in a flash. According to Gary Heurich, modern malt mills incorporate magnets to keep steel fragments from causing sparks.) Mr. Heurich decided to build the first fireproof brewery in the United States. The brewery was built in 1894-95 in Foggy Bottom, at the future site of the Kennedy Center.
The Heurich's lived happily in this home for many years. It was the first fireproof private residence in Washington DC.

Christian Heurich married the widow of George Schnell, whose brewery he and his partner had taken over in 1872. She passed away childless in 1884, leaving Mr. Heurich the plot where the mansion would be built. In February 1887, he married Mathilde Daetz, who had come to Washington a year earlier from a town near Bremen, Germany. Young Mathilde was thrown from her carriage in 1893. She suffered a serious decline in health and passed away in January 1895 at age 33, leaving no children. On January 11, 1899, Mr. Heurich took his third bride, Amelia Louise Keyser, niece of his first wife. This marriage produced four children: Christian, Jr. on December 11, 1901; Anna Marguerite on December 19, 1903; Anita Augusta on June 28, 1905; and Karla Louise on October 20, 1907. Anna Marguerite passed away on September 7, 1904, before her first birthday. A memorial to her appears in the Heurich Mansion’s conservatory. Karla is the sole survivor today.
Anna Marguerite that may be the link to some of the events that have happened here. For a time in the early days of the Columbia Historical Society there were bed room facilities on the top floor. But often those who were offered to stay the night didn't follow through on the offer. Those who did often spoke of hearing strange sounds coming from the main floor and the music room. The sounds of piano music or an infant's screams or the sounds of lullabies being sung by a young woman's voice.
If you look in the window here of the back sun room you can see stone work above a fountain in that room and in the center is the face of an infant. This is a stone sculpture of the face of Anna Marguerite. She was the daughter that died before her first birthday.

Sheridan Random Info

Grant Quote
Give the enemy no rest ... Do all the damage to railroads and crops you can. Carry off stock of all descriptions, and negroes, so as to prevent further planting. If the war is to last another year, we want the Shenandoah Valley to remain a barren waste.
Sheridan's men did their work relentlessly and thoroughly, rendering over 400 mi.² uninhabitable. The residents referred to this widespread destruction as "The Burning."
General Sheridan’s famous claim that “a crow flying across this valley would have to carry his own rations.”
Sculpture is by Gutzon Borglum, Sculptor and very active KKK Member

Turkish Embassy/Everett Estate

Edward Hamlin Everett. Glass Bottle King and fluted bottle cap inventor
If even half the accounts that have trickled out of this place are true, at times it almost seems that spectral wanderers of the Everett home must be just about tripping over one another, playing out their ancient, eerie pursuits in the aetherial background behind the bustling activity of the living.

This was originally the estate of Edward Hamlin Everett, who had it built in 1910. Everett lived in Bennington VT for most of his youth, leaving in 1869 to pursue wealth farther west. He was not disappointed. He gradually purchased up all of the American Bottle Co. - and in the process of trying to cut costs on the glass fires, prospected and became the first person to strike oil in Ohio. In 1886 he married Amy King, the daughter of a Newark aristocrat whose glassworks factory Everett had just acquired.

Along with homes in Newark and Washington (not to forget the chateau in Vevy, Switzerland - times were good for Edward).

Legend has it that, not long after, Amy died, quite unexpectedly - some say freak accident, some suicide, some murder. According to her obituary, however, Amy King Everett died at their Washington home, in March of 1917. She had suffered from a prolonged, unnamed illness and died following a "severe operation."

In 1920, Edward remarried, this time to Grace Burnap, originally from Hopkinton, Mass. Tradition has it that the three daughters he had with Amy never cared for their father's second wife. Two of them had already married and moved before their mother's death, the third not long after - and it's believed they resented the way Everett went on to sire two more children with this new, much younger wife. When Edward died in 1929, the stage was set for a venomous and quite public legal battle.

When the will was unveiled, it bequeathed the bulk of his fortune to Grace, leaving only about one tenth of the family's enormous wealth to his three daughters from his first marriage. The daughters sued, arguing that their father had not been in his right mind when the will was signed and that his second wife, who after all was not much older than the oldest of them, had exercised undue influence on him.

It was at this point that the eldest daughter witnesses a horrific vision while staying in the house. Unsure of how her mother died, one night late, while staying at the house she heard a sound of weeping coming from the sitting room outside her deceased father's bedroom. She thought perhaps it was her step mother and walked the corrider to see what was wrong. When she approached, the turned on a small lamp and in the dim light she saw her mother lying on the floor with the clear indication that she was murdered. She screamed and ran out of the room.

What became dubbed "The Battle of Bennington Millions," or "The Second Battle of Bennington," began. It was the largest and most talked about court case of it's time, launching to fame the lawyer Warren Austin, who went on to become the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (and they didn't give that job to just any old nut with a moustache, back then). Witnesses included Sen. Arthur Capper of Kansas and Laura Harlan, daughter of former Chief Justice John Harlan. Grace Everett herself was subjected to three continuous days of relentless grilling on the witness stand. As Joseph Citro, the esteemed gothic author, put it, the proceedings "left the magnificent Glass and Bottle Baron of the American Industrial Revolution looking like a pitiable weakling, utterly dominated by his Lady Macbeth of a wife." The court sided with Everett's first daughters, awarding them each about a third of the fortune, with the remaining amount going to Grace and her two daughters.

Some say that great dramas and great sorrows of this sort leave a mark behind in certain places - perhaps a kind of shadow radiating in the poorly understood fabric of the physical universe, a wisp of smoke: In short, they are haunted.

Since then, a steady stream of unexplained disturbances and mysterious figures have been sighted. Security guards whisper about doorknobs turning in empty rooms and doors that close by themselves. On one occasion in 1982, a security guard called him when he could not identify the source of some strange noises. When they finally tracked the sounds to an office on the third floor, they found that the door, which was locked from the outside and had no other entrance, had somehow been blocked from the inside by a heavy desk. In what was once the old carriage house, there've been numerous reports of doors and windows locking and unlocking by themselves and computers that snap on and off suddenly.

One of the most frequently reported phenomena is the appearance of a woman in white, roaming the main house and grounds, thought by some to be the ghost of Edward's first wife.

All in all, the estate is ensconced in history and mystery, a great combination for a full-flavored haunted experiences or a gripping horror novel.

The Van Ness Stables and Ghostly Horses

The alley in which we find ourselves may seem like just an alley but many years ago it was part of the estate of the Andersen family. As we look around you can see that most of the buildings are new except for one. This large building over here was once the stables on the grounds of the Anderson estate. I've told you about many hauntings by souls that continue to reside in the area, but are hauntings possible by something that supposedly has no soul?
Many people claim to have seen 6 white horses processing down P Street and crossing the bridge over the past 100 years and most of these claims seem to fall around the date of July 13th.
Perhaps this is the reason why
After the war for American independence the city of Washington began to take shape. George Washington himself convinced many land owners to sell their property to create the new Federal city. There was one land owner, David Burnes, that was reluctant to sell. He thought poorly of Washington and held out for as much money as possible. Once he sold, he made a quite a bit. His daughter and heiress to the fortune married John Peter Van Ness, a congressman from New York who eventually became the city's mayor and a Major in the war of 1812. Once married, he liberally spent the Burnes fortune and constructed a large mansion where the OAS building now stands. Van Ness was instrumental in founding the Orphans Asylum which was located near his property on H Street. It is here that the family's Mausoleum was built and stood for nearly forty years.
In July of 1872 the Mausoleum and all those interred there was deconstructed and brought by horse through the streets of Washington, crossing the Long bridge and continuing up the streets to Oak Hill Cemetery where the Van Ness family lays in rest to this day. You can imagine the stately parade as the coffin's of the Van Ness family, for whom so many areas of our city are named made it's journey to it's Georgetown destination. Ironically, the only remaining structures left where the old mansion stood are the Horse Stables which are now small offices behind the OAS. Folks who have been on the grounds late at night have seen these 6 white horses that run wildly around the grounds before grouping together to reenact their eery walk to transport their cold delivery to it's new resting place.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cosmos Club

Further up Mass Ave, lies the Cosmos Club, a Gentleman's Club dedicated to "the advancement of it's members in science, literature, and art.", although since 1988 they have been open to Ladies as well. They moved here from Lafayette Square in 1952.

Previously, the house was a private residence, built by Curtis Hilyer in the 1873. In 1901 it was purchased by railroad magnate Richard Townsend and his wife Mary Scott. While the location was particularly fashionable, the house was in the dated Victorian style instead of the more popular Beaux Arts that was trendy at the time. Rather than demolish and build a new one, Mary Scott Townsend insisted that the previous house remain intact. When she was young, a gypsy had told her she would die under a new roof. The prominent New York architectural firm Carreere and Hasting was hired to remodel the previous structure into what you see today.

Ironically, while Mary Scott Townsend lived to a ripe old age, her husband dies two years later.

The Haunted Bridge(s)

Prior to Washington, DC becoming a city, an old farming road connected what was then the port of Georgetown, MD with farming communities further down the Potomac. When the city was laid out, this road very roughly followed what is now Pennsylvania Avenue. It crossed into Georgetown just south of the current O St Bridge via a wooden bridge with no rails.

Moving forward a few years, during the War of 1812, the British burned Washington, DC. American troops attempted a defense of Washington but were routed at the Battle of Bladensburg, just outside Washington, DC boundary on US 1. Following this defeat, the American troops scampered back through the City of Washington and regrouped on the high ground above Georgetown, just across Rock Creek from where we are today. British forces followed them as far as Capitol Hill before halting. Having fulfilled there primary objective of embarrassing the Americans, the British decided to burn public buildings in Washington, including the unfinished Capitol and, of course, the White House. Fortunately for the Americans, a fierce storm rose up that evening, extinguishing the fire at the Capitol and preserving at least some of it.

However, in that same storm, a drummer boy helping to rally American troops evacuating Washington was either blown or pushed (accounts differ) over the edge of the wooded bridge that stood here. Since then, residents have reported hearing muffled drumbeats when the creek is quiet. Sadly, since Rock Creek Parkway was built in the twenties, there have been few quiet nights here, and hence no modern reports of drumbeats.

The wooden bridge met it's end in an equally tumultuous fashion. It had been falling apart for many years when a wagon attempted to cross on a foggy night. As he crossed, he felt the bridge start to come apart. Since it can be a bit difficult to back a team of horses up, he whipped them to a frenzy trying to make the side upon which we are now standing. Despite his frantic efforts, the bridge collapsed just before the teamster could make the opposite side. Occasionally, on foggy days, it is said that if you stand in the right spot, you can see the teamster whipping his horses and trying to make it across before they all plunge to their death.

Hope Diamond

At Evelyn Walsh McLean, one the last owners of the Hope Diamond. It is now the Indonesian Embassy. The house was built by Evelyn's father, Thomas Walsh, an Irish immigrant who struck it rich as a gold miner. Legend has it that he had a piece of gold ore embedded in the arch of the main entrance.

Evelyn grew to adulthood in this house and enjoyed all the privileges of Gilded Age high society (especially the morphine!!!). She married Ned McLean, of the real estate and publishing McLean family, and they embarked on a six month grand tour of Europe for a honeymoon. While there they noticed an incredible blue diamond around the neck of the Sultan Abdul-Hamid's favorite concubine. They thought little of it until three years later when the were in Paris and being shown jewelry by Pierre Cartier. In the intervening three years the Sultan's favorite had been stabbed to death and the Sultan had drowned.

Bad luck was nothing new to the diamond and even Cartier warned Mrs. McLean of the diamond's history. It had been stolen from a Hindu temple by a man named Jean Tavernier, who brought it back to him to France, only to be torn apart by wild dogs. It ended up in the court of Louis XVIII and Marie Antoinette and we all know how they ended up. It had been a favorite of Marie's close friend and rumored lover, the Princesse de Lambelle, who was brutally murdered during the French Revolution while the Queen was forced to watch.

Following the chaos of the Revolution, the diamond disappeared, It wasn't until 1824 that it reappeared in the collection of Henry Hope, a British merchant who gave the diamond it's name. Naturally he died shortly after and remained in the Hope family for several ill-fated generations. Eventually it ended up in Paris with the Cartier's.

When warned of this history, Evelyn responded "Bad luck objects for me are lucky"

Sadly this proved not to be true. Her husband Ned became an alcoholic and eventually divorced her. Her nine year old son died in a tragic car accident. Evelyn herself became addicted to morphine and through a series of poor decisions died deeply in debt of pneumonia at age 60.

After her death, the diamond was sold to pay off her debts to jeweler Harry Winston who, unable to find a buyer, ended up donating it to the Smithsonian.
Winston mailed it to the Smithsonian via the U.S. Postal Service, which cost him $145.29 in shipping costs. The postman who carried the daimond, James T. Todd, soon had his leg run over by a truck, had his dog strangled by it's own leash, his wife die of a heart attack, and had his house burn down.