Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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.

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