We all know there’s endless haunted places throughout D.C., populated by castoffs and abandoned spirits that have some kind of unfinished business. Just in time for spooky season, we’ve rounded up four of the most haunted spots you can check out in the area that don’t require you to trespass or go anywhere *too* creepy or abandoned.
The Hay-Adams Hotel
This luxury hotel has a sinister history and a longtime reputation for being home to all sorts of paranormal phenomena. Visitors have reported minor things like doors unlocking on their own and cold spots, as well as majorly freaky occurrences like hearing the far-off sound of a woman crying. The source of most of these happenings is reportedly Clover Hooper Adams, a socialite whose struggles with depression ended tragically with her suicide in 1885, shortly before construction finished on the building that is now home to the Hay-Adams. One of the biggest signs that Adams is near is the appearance of an otherworldly scent of almonds, an odor also emitted by potassium cyanide, the chemical compound that she used to end her life over a century ago. 800 16th St. NW, DC; hayadams.com // @hayadamshotel
The Octagon House
When visiting the national landmark/house museum/onetime residence of James Madison during the War of 1812, it’s possible to encounter several signs of possible hauntings, which have been a part of the Octagon House’s legacy for over a hundred years. Countless people have reported hearing the ringing of call bells, once used by the house’s original residents John and Ann Tayloe to summon their servants, as well as cold spots, feelings of unease, and flickering lights throughout the property. It’s a beautiful site that is absolutely worth a visit, but those open to perceiving hauntings and other paranormal activity will take a special interest in this extremely haunted house. 1799 New York Ave. NW, DC; nps.gov
The Smithsonian Castle
Several distinct spirits are reported to haunt the Smithsonian Castle, a stunning piece of gothic architecture near the National Mall. Perhaps most prominent among them is the building’s wealthy namesake, James Smithson, whose remains were brought to rest in the castle he helped fund the construction of 75 years after his death. Ever since, there have been reports of sightings of a figure that looks suspiciously like portraits of Smithson wandering the grounds. Other potential ghosts include paleontologist Fielding B. Meek, former castle resident James Henry, and museum curator Spencer Fullerton Baird, all who have been spotted by various workers and visitors over the years. 1000 Jefferson Dr. SW, DC; si.edu
Old Post Chapel
Located adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery, the Old Post Chapel has hosted countless funerals for those buried next door. Witnesses visiting the chapel have reported hearing footsteps and voices without an identifiable source, as well as doors and cabinets opening without explanation, and even sights of a figure that looks suspiciously like a grieving young woman, dressed all in white, waiting for a fiancee that never showed up. 204 Lee Ave., Fort Myer, VA
Enjoy this piece? Consider becoming a member for access to our premium digital content. Support local journalism and start your membership today.