The Ghosts of The Octagon

September 24th, 2008

The Octagon is one of many historic buildings in Washington, D.C. It was built in 1800 for Colonel John Tayloe who was a Virginia plantation owner. Not too long after the Tayloe’s moved into the Octagon, John had a fight with the oldest of his eight daughters. The girl was running up the steps with a candle and when she reached the top she fell over the balcony and down to the main hall. She was killed on impact and no one knows for sure if she jumped or just accidentally fell. The ghost of this girl has been reported as people have seen a flickering light go up the steps, go out near the balcony, and then hear the scream of a girl followed by the thud of a body.

During President Madison’s tenure in office, the British had burned down the White House in the War of 1812. Tayloe then offered the President to stay at the Octagon and he did indeed take him up on the generous offer. The president’s wife Dolly held many parties at the house and it turned out to be a successful place of business as well. Years later, people reported seeing apparitions of people calling for cabs from the street, and also hearing the sounds of carriers open and closing and moving away.

People have also seen the ghost of Dolly Madison, witnesses knowing this because of the apparitions headdress that Dolly always wore. She is seen still welcoming in guests from the main hall on occasion. When the Madison’s moved out, Tayloe and his family moved back in. Again, there was another fight between John and one of his daughters. John brushed past her on the second floor, and the girl lost her balance and fell down the steps, breaking her neck. There is said to be an unusual cold spot in the area where the girl landed on impact from the fall. Another ghost story in the house was a jealous lover killer who put the body of a young girl into one of the walls. No one knew about this until strange thumping sounds were coming from the spot where the body was. When the body was recovered and laid to rest, the sounds stopped.

(Source: Cohen, Daniel. Hauntings and Horrors. 2002.)

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