Halloween: The most haunted locations in the Washington DC region

Hundreds of locations around the DC area claim to be haunted but these have more reported ghost sightings than any others. Photo: Octagon House/ AP

WASHINGTON, October 30, 2013 — Hundreds of locations in the Washington D.C. area report being haunted but some of them stand out as being especially scary.

With reportings of unexplained noises, lights turning on and off,  shadows, strange animal behavior and temperatures changes, these places are worth a visit the week of Halloween to get a fright.

SEE RELATED: Halloween: Haunted houses and walks in the Washington D.C. area

The Octagon House

1799 New York Ave, Washington D.C.

This is reported to be the most haunted location in Washington D.C. Colonel John Tayloe III, the former owner of the house, was the wealthiest man in Virginia at the time. His daughters were known for their beauty and grace. Just before the War of 1812 one of them fell in love with a British officer, a relationship unacceptable to her her father. The Colonel’s refusal to allow the young man into the home caused a heated argument, and the girl stormed off up the stairs. Seconds later there was a scream and the girl plunged to her death down the staircase. No one ever knew if it was an accident or not, but her ghost is said to roam up and down the stairs to this day. After the war, another daughter returned to the house after eloping to ask her father’s forgiveness. On the same stairway, the Colonel brushed passed the girl and she lost her balance, fell and broke her neck. The second daughter joins her sister walking the stairs at night. There is a cold spot on the stairs, where one of the girls fell to her death.

During the Civil War, the Union Army used the house as a temporary hospital and it was a stop on the Underground Railroad. For hundreds of years, occupants have reported hearing screams, sobs and moans reportedly either from escaped slaves or wounded soldiers.

SEE RELATED: Celebrating Halloween safely: tricks for ghouls from young to old

Decatur House

1610 H Street, NW, Washington D.C.

This house is located along Lafayette Park which is considered to be Washington D.C.’s most haunted area. Naval hero Stephen Decatur and his wife, Susan Wheeler, moved into the house in 1816. Years earlier, Stephan had voted guilty in a trial of a former friend, James Barron, which started a 13 year feud between the two men. Just 14 months after moving into their D.C. home, Stephan was wounded in a duel with Barron, which took place in Lafayette Park. Decatur died a few days later in his home.

There are numerous sighting of the ghost of Stephen Decatur at the house as well as the crying of his broken hearted widow.

SEE RELATED: Group says Halloween candy may be killing orangutans

Omni Shorham Hotel

2500 Calvert St, NW, Washington D.C.

In the 1930s when the hotel first opened, a minority shareholder and his wife had moved into the hotel into a suite of rooms. Ms. Juliette Brown was the family’s housekeeper. One morning she work up, not feeling well and as she reached for the phone, she died. Sometime after Juliette’s death, the family’s adopted daughter also died under suspicious circumstances. Her cause of death was never determined but rumors of suicide and drug overdoses were spread. The family abandoned their rooms and strange things started to happen. Lights started turning on by themselves and objects were moved about. A guest who knew nothing of the deaths called the front desk to complain about the noises coming from the suite next door but the room was empty. The hotel has renamed the suite appropriately to The Ghost Suite.

Ball’s Bluff National Cemetery

Ball’s Bluff Road, Leesburg, Virginia

In a semicircle inside a fence are the remains of 54 unknown soldiers. They were killed in one of the first Civil War battles. The Battle of Ball’s Bluff was a bloody retreat for the Union forces. This national cemetery is too small to have a park ranger but legend has it that it is watched over by the ghost of a Confederate officer. The phantom officer appeared before a Union cadre during the fighting. Members of the Tammany Regiment were killed when they followed his orders to charge into the guns.

Olde Town Inn

9403 Main Street, Manassas, Virginia

They say there is a ghost named Miss Lucy who haunts rooms 50 to 54. It is said that sometimes she holds people a few inches in the air over their beds and moves things in the room. She also turns water faucets and lights on and off. It is said that she loves to play pranks on whoever stays in those rooms. Visitors report that she initially appears to people looking normal but then will deteriorate in front of them and smell like a corpse.


Old Post Chapel at Fort Myer, Arlington, VA


National Cemetery

1 Memorial Ave., Arlington, Virginia

The Old Post Chapel at Arlington Cemetery is rumored to be filled with paranormal activity. Thousands of military funerals have been held at the chapel over the years. Soldiers on duty around the cemetery have reported locked doors being found opened and opened doors found unexpectedly locked. A woman loudly crying is often heard just inside the front doors of the chapel. Organ music is heard coming from the locked chapel late at night when no one in inside. A dark haired Spanish woman in black mourning clothes has often been seeing in the pews but when she was approached, she disappeared. A small boy has also been reported running through the chapel that appears and disappears.

Auburn House at Towson University

Osler Drive and Auburn Drive, Towson, Maryland

A woman named Martha worked as a servant in the home. Lightening struck the house one stormy night and Martha died in a massive fire. The University bought the rebuilt mansion in 1971 and uses it to host receptions. It was reported that school security once would not enter the house once after reports of strange noises and lights flickering. Students have reported seeing Martha in the attic window. Some people inside the house have reported seeing water on the floor and then watched it disappear as they stood there.

U.S.S. Constellation

301 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore, Maryland

As with any war ship, many men lost their lives on board and many haunting have been reported. Many have reported smelling gun powder while on the ship as well as hearing unnatural noises and seen ghostly lights and figures. One apparition is believed to be Neil Harvey who is usually seen on deck. Harvey was court marshaled for being a coward and leaving his gunning station. A watchman for the ship, Carl Hansen, has appeared several times in different locations on the ship. He is still guarding the ship and has appeared to people appearing as an actual person, including a priest. The captain of the ship, Captain Truxtun, and an eleven year old boy who was an assistant to the surgeon but ultimately Was murdered by other sailors have been seen roaming the ship. The final spirit reportedly still haunting the Constellation is a young man who hung himself on board the ship.

The Westminster Presbyterian Western Burial Ground

519 West Fayette Street, Baltimore, Maryland

This cemetery has been considered one of the most haunted in the United States, and it is occupied with famous residents, from generals and mayors to influential businessmen and writers. The church was built directly over the original burial grounds, and finally completed in 1852, but the massive arches created underground catacombs that have been a constant source of ghostly sightings both below and above ground. Over time bodies were constantly disarranged and even removed from their original resting place in an effort to accommodate the strict policies of the city. Medical students also took part in disturbing the graves as dissecting bodies was a common practice in gaining medical knowledge. Many of the ghost tales are based on the belief that many of the restless souls wandering the cemetery were buried alive. The belief is that once they actually died, their spirit began to wander the grounds to seek out the person or group of people who buried them alive in order to get revenge. One repeated sighting is of a white haired man walking slowly through the grave markers as if he is searching for something. Visitors have also reported seeing Edgar Allan Poe, who is buried here, roaming the grounds often around his birth date in the middle of January.







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Susan L Ruth

Susan L. Ruth is a long-time Washington, DC resident with extensive ties throughout the community.  She is a genealogical researcher and writer, and is an active volunteer in the Northern Virginia competitive swimming community.  Susan previously worked providing life-skills to head injured adults. 

Susan and her husband Kerry currently live in Northern Virginia with their three sons, Ryley, Casey and Jack and their American Bulldog, Leila.


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