Tricks and Treats of D.C.'s Architecture

It doesn’t have to be Halloween to be spooked. Washingtonians have been altering their routes after dark for years due to the haunting characteristics of homes and buildings in the area. In honor of the upcoming holiday we will be posting the a list of DC’s most well-known architectural sites whose style and history have invited legends, ghost stories, and strange visitors….

The #1 tourist destination in Washington DC is the United States Capital. Like many other buildings in Washington, DC the U.S. Capitol is based on ancient Greek and Roman designs reinterpreted into a Neoclassical style. Construction of the Capitol building began after President George Washington and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson chose the winning design of William Thornton in 1792.
  • Legend tells that during the construction of the Capitol building, an irritable carpenter smashed the head of a stones man and buried the body in a wall. The stones man has allegedly been spotted walking the halls.

  • In 1814, the British tried to burn the Capital building down. Damage was sufficient that congress had to relocate to a hotel. One story tells of a British soldier who runs the halls with a torch, evidently he doesn’t know the war is over.

  • In 1890, Congressman William Taulbee was shot by Charles Kincaid, a reporter, on the marble steps of the Capitol building. Taulbee died 11 days after the incident but the bloodstain can still be seen today on the marble steps leading up to the House Press Gallery. When reporters pass that area, they sometimes trip, which is said to be caused by Taulbee enacting his revenge.

  • In the late 1800's General John Alexander chaired meetings in the Military and Militia meeting room of the Senate’s wing. At 12:30 am, everyday, the General is said to appear outside this room looking upset.

  • The cast-iron dome, replacing the original wooden structure, was constructed between 1855 and 1866. The ghost of a worker killed when he fell from the dome has been reported floating around the rotunda carrying a tray of tools.

  • During the Civil War the Capital served as a hospital to treat soldiers. On occasion visitors have claimed to see soldiers dashing through the halls. One story tells of a man who appears and salutes, then vanishes.

  • The Library of Congress once inhabited the rooms to the west of the Rotunda. A male librarian allegedly haunts the area, looking for $6,000 he stashed in the pages of some obscure volumes. (The money was found in 1897 when the collection moved to the Jefferson Building.)

  • The best known legend is of D.C., Demon Cat, who lives in the basement of the U.S. Capitol Building, possibly in the room known as the Crypt. When it appears a national disaster is likely to occur within a short period of time. Some versions of the story, warns that while the Demon Cat may first appear as a helpless looking kitten, it grows in size and becomes threatening as people approach him.

  • When guards walk through Statuary Hall, which used to be the early meeting place of Congress, they claim to be followed by footsteps. Guards have admitted to trying to outrun the footsteps, but are tackled by someone unseen. Some guards say theyt have seen John Quincy Adams leading a session of Congress, circa 1850, who died in that hall.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great info. My daughter is going to D.C this Spring on a class trip and this type of information only makes it more real and interesting.