The White House is one of, if not the most iconic structure in the United States. It serves as a representation of the presidency as well as the home of all modern US presidents. There have been thousands of people to live in, work in, or visit the location, and some have come away with some pretty weird stories. For such an old building that has housed so many iconic individuals, it makes sense that a few of them wanted to stick around and see how their successors handled it.
Not many presidents have died while in office, but there have been enough deaths surrounding the White House to reasonably assume that it may be haunted (if you believe in that sort of thing). There have been some eerie haunting stories surrounding former presidents, first ladies and even those associated with presidencies. On top of that, there have been a few incidents involving the white house that are suspiciously weird, which proves that even a place as prestigious as the White house is prone to some mystery and creepy lore.
15 Abigail Adams Sightings
Abigail Adams loved spending time in the East Room of the White House. She would hang her laundry and relax in the room, but since her death there have been multiple sightings of her ghost in and around the East Room. Members of the Taft administration reported seeing her with her arms outstretched, as if she were carrying a basket of laundry. More recently, a tour group in 2002 saw her ghost in the same manor. Reported sightings of her ghost are accompanied by the faint smell of laundry soap. Lincoln has been sighted around this room as well, but as you’ll see below that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Lincoln’s ghost seems to have his pick of any room in the house.
14 A Plane Crash
On September 11, 1994, Frank Eugene Corder stole a Cessna 150 with the motive of crashing it into the white house and killing then president Bill Clinton. Corder was a truck driver and spent time in the military as a trained mechanic. He was honorably discharged in 1975 and worked as a truck driver until he was let go in 1993. After his position was terminated, Corder was arrested for theft and drug dealing. His third wife left him which sent him into a deep depression. People close to Corder said that the motive for his assassination attempt was based on publicity rather than true hatred of the president. In the late evening of September 11th he stole the plane, and by the early hours of September 12, he had missed his target and crashed it into the White House lawn. He was severely intoxicated at the time of the crash, which would explain why he missed his target. Either way he would not have killed President Clinton, who was staying at Blair House due to renovations of the White House. Corder was the only causality in the crash.
13 The Lincoln Haunting
Abraham Lincoln is one of the more prevalent spirits that is said to walk the halls of the White House. A more detailed encounter with the ghost will be presented below, but multiple people have reported having seen, heard, or felt the presence of Lincoln while in the white house. There have been reports of footsteps in the Lincoln Bedroom, and multiple presidents have had encounters with the spirit. Eleanor Roosevelt, though never saw the ghost said that she felt his presence, and that her dog would bark unexpectedly at the air. President Harry Truman and his wife were awoken by unexplained knocks on their door one night when they stayed in the Lincoln bedroom, and several other eyewitnesses have claimed to see Lincoln lying on the bed or sitting on the edge putting his boots on.
12 Ghost of the Rose Garden
The White House Rose Garden is one of the staples of the White House. It’s what a lot of people see on television when people are going to meet the president, and there are often announcements made from this location. It was originally planted and created by Dolley Madison, the first lady to President James Madison in the early 1800s. First Lady Ellen Wilson wanted to make her own mark on the property, so she ordered that the garden be dug up. When the workers began to change the landscape, they claimed that the ghost of Mrs. Madison appeared to them and stopped them from destroying what she had made. Since then, any time the scent of roses wafts into the White House it is attributed to the ghost of Dolley Madison.
11 The Ghost of Anne Surratt
Anna Surratt was the daughter of Mary Surratt, one of the conspirators of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Anna pleaded with officials to spare her mother’s life, even lobbying to speak to the president herself. Her efforts never paid off, as her mother was executed only a few days later. This devastated Anna, who no longer had much of a family to go back to. Her brother was on the run for his connection to the assassination, and she never really got over the death of her mother. Some say she continues to hang on to her mother’s hanging, as she has been sighted by multiple people on the White House steps. It is said that she appears on the same day every year; the day that her mother was executed for her crime.
10 The White House Intruder
In 2014, Omar Gonzalez jumped the fence and proceeded to break into the White House unimpeded. He was eventually stopped and arrested, and the Obamas were not present at the time of the break-in, but the fact that someone was able to scale the fence and enter the front door without being stopped is a huge red-flag. Being the president, there are constant dangers that you have to face on a daily basis. You have to assume, as the president, that there are a fair amount of barriers between you and the whackos from the outside world. Gonzalez had a small knife, but said that he did not intend to kill the president with it. He was suffering from PTSD, but this does not mean that the event should be handled lightly. The Secret Service was on the hot seat after this intrusion, so hopefully they are running a tighter ship these days.
9 A British Soldier
The second floor bedrooms in the White House are used as guest rooms for friends and family of the president, but until their restoration in the 1950s, they were home to some spirits that may have had sinister intentions. There have been sightings of Willie, President Lincoln’s deceased son, as well as screams that are said to be echoes of Grover Cleveland’s wife (the first person to give birth in the White House). The most terrifying, though, was seen by an unnamed couple who spent the night in one of their rooms. They were awoken in the middle of the night to find a vintage British soldier attempting to set fire to their room. It was assumed that this was the same soldier that set the White House on fire in 1812.
8 Andrew Jackson’s Ghost
The Rose Bedroom is the room in which President Andrew Jackson slept, and multiple White House employees have reported hearing him laughing or swearing – usually the two extremes of emotions. Mary Todd Lincoln actually heard Jackson swearing in the room, and Lilian Parks wrote that she felt the presence of the former president when she stayed in that very room. According to reports from the White House, there is supposedly a cold spot that never warms in the spot where Jackson slept. Unlike the ghost of Lincoln (which reportedly has also been seen in this room) no one has physically seen the ghost of Andrew Jackson, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It must have been one comfortable bed if he chose to spend eternity in the same room.
7 The Nixon Tapes
For those who don’t know, President Richard Nixon was incredibly paranoid. The whole basis of Watergate stemmed from his insecurities and paranoid nature, but a popular fact about Nixon was that he recorded everything that happened inside the White House walls. No one was talking privately during the Nixon administration, as he had sound-activated recording devices in the phones, the Oval Office and other select rooms in the building. During the Watergate hearings, the tapes were brought up and his refusal to hand them over offered further suspicion. The most eerie fact about the tapes was the 18 and a half minute gap that was unaccounted for. Some say this was unintentional, but many skeptics claim that the tapes were intentionally doctored to avoid any implication of wrongdoing by the former president.
6 Tall Whites
Before you read this one I have to say: I know this sounds like a banana-land theory, but it’s out there and it’s pretty spooky.
There has been a conspiracy theory since the 1950’s that our government is run by a shadow organization. Some theorize that this organization is made up of scientists and military personnel, who know the truth of the existence of alien interaction with humans. A photo was taken with John F. Kennedy that allegedly shows one of these “aliens” in the background of the photo. This unidentified man apparently fits the description of one of these aliens, and while it’s far-fetched, I felt as though it should be included as a speculative creepy thing that maybe, possibly, probably didn’t happen in the White House.
5 Lincoln’s Premonition
One of the most famous stories associated with White House lore is the foretelling of Lincoln’s own assassination. Only a few days before the event, Lincoln told a small group of people, including his wife, of a dream he had just had. In the dream, Lincoln was walking around the White House and it was nearly empty. He heard cries coming from the East Room, and entered to find a room full of grieving people with a corpse guarded by security. When Lincoln asked the men who had died, they responded by telling him, “The president. He was killed by an assassin.” In letters and other recordings of the time, Lincoln’s belief in the importance of dreams is evident, as he often referenced them as reflecting both the good and the bad of the future. It’s hard to conclusively confirm anecdotes like this, but when you look back on the events that followed his dream it’s hard to consider it anything short of a prophecy.
4 William Henry Harrison and David Burns
William Henry Harrison is famous for the wrong reason as a president. He was the first to die while in office, and was the shortest presidency in history. He fell ill and died of pneumonia only a month after he was sworn-in, but some witnesses say he never left the presidential residence. Presidents who took the office after him claim to have heard noises coming from the attic and attribute it to the man whose presidency was tragically cut short.
Another long-time resident of the White House attic could be David Burns, the man who was robbed of his property for the grounds of the white house in the first place. During the Truman presidency, a Secret Service officer was in the oval office when he heard the clear voice of a man say, “I am David Burns” from the attic above.
Willie is the name of the deceased son of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln may be the most agreed-upon haunting of the white house, but there have also been reported sightings of his wife and his son. Lincoln and his wife conducted séances during the time of his presidency, trying to contact the young boy from beyond the grave. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s daughter got the experience that the Lincolns were wishing for, as the young boy appeared to her in one of the second floor bedrooms while she was staying there. She later found out that young Willie died in the same room that she was staying in. There are multiple ghosts that are said to reside in the bedrooms of the second floor, but this sighting of Willie holds special significance due to the Lincolns’ previous attempts to reach him.
2 Reagan’s Lincoln Story
In a story told by Joan Gage, a writer who heard this story directly from President Reagan himself, Reagan details his personal encounter with the ghost of Lincoln that so popularly haunts the White House. The president’s dog, Rex would refuse to enter the Lincoln bedroom. When he came near, he would bark wildly and back out of the door. On another occasion, the Reagans were watching TV when their dog stood and began to bark at the ceiling. Reagan himself initially thought of some electromagnetic pulse that could be heard by dogs and not people. He decided to investigate further in the morning, thinking that it may be some type of spying devise by a foreign country. On another occasion, Reagan’s daughter and her husband were staying in the Lincoln bedroom when the husband awoke to find a figure standing by the bedroom window. Reagan’s daughter would tease him until she experienced the exact same thing months later. The ghost of Lincoln is the most corroborated ghost out of all that are said to be roaming the halls of the White House.
1 The Demon Cat
Unlike some of the other locations in the White House that are said to house the spirits of people, the basement contains what is supposed to be the spirit of a demon cat. Those who have seen the cat say that it appears as a kitten but grows larger as the viewer approaches. It’s not a common occurrence, as years and entire presidencies will pass with no one seeing the cat, but when it does appear it spells doom for the country. The cat only appears as a warning to the president that something terrible is about to happen, and reports of cat sightings have been made before some of the disasters in American history. The most popular reported sighting of the demon cat took place in 1920, just before the stock market crash. It was also reported to have been seen before President Kennedy was assassinated.
Sources: nytimes, history, huffingtonpost