Welcome To My Home

Millions of people from around the world visit the Mid-Atlantic area every year. Most spend their time in DC, the historic areas of Virginia, and the playgrounds of Maryland. I want to enhance your enjoyment by letting you know more about what you will see and proposing some alternative places to explore. If you have some suggestions please let me know and I will try to incorporate them. The people of the Mid-Atlantic love to share their hometowns with you.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cedar Point

Just want to have fun?  Try Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.  It is the best amusement park in the world and I can tell you about it for hours but why not just click on the link and see for yourself.  As for now, take a test drive on the Magnum

Saturday, March 19, 2011

One of These Days – The Cherry Blossom Festival in DC

“One of these days.” Everybody says it. One of these days I’m going to take a long weekend, one of these days I’m going to just relax, one of these days I want to see the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC. Well, why not do it?
The 2010 Cherry Blossom Festival will be held between March 27th and April 11th, it’s inexpensive, it’s convenient, and the weather will be great.
As a former Northerner I always missed Cherry Blossom because I couldn’t believe that anyplace would be warm enough in March for trees and flowers to blossom. Well DC is just that place. In fact the first time Nancy and I saw the beautiful landscape we bought ice cream from a street vendor just to cool off.

The best way to get around DC is by using the World Class Metrorail system. It passes at or near the airport, a great number of hotels, eateries of all prices, and more sites than you will have time to visit. You can fly in to Washington National Airport, jump on the Metro, and be in your room in no time at a cost of $2 to $3. Depending on where you stay your only other expenses will be food and possibly another Metrorail ride. Or for a one day visit, park at a metro station for around $5 and miss all the traffic.

The Cherry Blossom Festival will take a few hours to see so plan additional excursions to the many monuments, free museums, or government buildings on the Mall or visit Georgetown, Alexandria, DuPont Circle, the many colorful neighborhoods, cathedrals, the Soldiers Home where President Lincoln lived for a great deal of his first term, the church where President Kennedy attended his last Mass, or take in a game at the Verizon Center.
As for the Festival itself it’s a two week event and something is going on almost all the time. You can take one of the many tour busses or simply get on the Metrorail to the Smithsonian stop. Take the exit to the Mall and you will be between the Capitol building and the Washington Monument. Take your first pictures and walk toward the Monument.

The pink and white trees you see around the Washington Monument are some of the 3,800 Yoshino trees donated by the Japanese government in 1965. They were planted by our First Lady, Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Takeuchi, wife of the Japanese Ambassador. The Yoshino is the dominant variety in DC and the flowers are white or pale pink and almond scented.
Take a quick look to your right and you will see our White House, home of the President of the United States.
Continue walking ahead toward the World War II Monument and take a minute to enjoy the view. Dedicated on May 29, 2004 it commemorates the sixteen million Americans who fought and 400,000 who died during the war.
Turn to your left and walk the half block to Independence Ave. Follow your fellow travelers across Independence to the Tidal Basin and the majesty of the Cherry Blossom trees open before you. Get your camera ready.

Your first stop is at the Japanese Lantern. This is a 350 year old stone structure from a temple complex in Tokyo. It was placed here in 1954 and is lighted by women from the Japanese embassy on a Sunday during the festival.
After a few paces to your left you will see two bronze plaques marking the first trees planted by our First Lady, Mrs. Taft and Mrs. Chinida, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, on March 27, 1912. There were originally 3,020 trees of 11 varieties from Yokahama, Japan and they were placed around the Tidal Basin, against the Potomac River, and at the White House.

One of the most beautiful sites you will ever see is directly in front of you. The sun, lighting the trees from above creates a pink, dreamlike area from the branches to the ground. There is no other way to describe it.
The trees arch over the path that surrounds the water so be prepared to duck. As you reach the Western end of the basin you will be passing by the proposed site of the Martin Luther King Memorial and a little further on you will see the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. This is a great side excursion not to mention an opportunity to visit a rest area. It is also the site of a fantastic photo opportunity with Cherry Blossom trees to either side and the Washington Monument in the middle.

Upon exiting the FDR you will see the Japanese Pagoda. This commemorates the Treaty of Kanagawa of 1854 which was entered into between Japan and the United States “to establish firm, lasting, and sincere friendship between” the two nations.

A little further on is the Inlet Bridge. Looking across the road you can see Yoshino, Akebono, Sargent, and Kwanzan tree varieties.

Cross the bridge and to your right, across Ohio Drive, is the George Mason Memorial. This monument to the father of our Bill of Rights was opened on April 9, 2002 and very well worth your time to visit.

Walk back to the Tidal Basin trail and the Jefferson Memorial begins to appear. To your left, as paths merge is the Usuzumi stand. This species is the oldest living flowering cherry tree in the world and said to have been planted by the 26th Emperor Keitai 1,500 years ago. The trees you see are from cuttings of a 1,400 year old tree in Itasho neo, Japan and were planted here in 1999. The Uxuzumi tree was declared a National Treasure of Japan in 1922.

During the Festival the Jefferson Memorial serves as the stage for events from music, to dance, to examples of Japanese life. Plan on visiting our third president at the center of the monument and stay around to enjoy at least one of the many shows.
Directly across from the Jefferson Memorial is the Paddle Boat House where you can rent a boat for 30 minutes to an hour and leisurely peddle your way around the Tidal Basin.

This is just a sampling of what you will see but the experience will last a lifetime.

Monday, February 14, 2011

An Apology

I haven’t posted anything in this blog for a while but will resume soon. We have had some health problems in the family since November which has greatly curtailed our ability to travel. Looking on the brighter side though, the time off has been converted to planning time and the fruits of that planning (more travel sites) will become visible soon,

Monday, November 8, 2010

Virginia Wine Tour

Everyone talks about visiting the Sonoma Valley, driving through the vineyards, and sampling the wines. I know I would like to do it but the airfare alone from DC to San Francisco is between $400 and $1,000 per person plus land transportation, meals, lodging and pretty soon I am looking for an alternative. Well I have found a way to tour vineyards and want to pass it on to you. The Northern Neck of Virginia.

This is the Eastern portion of Virginia bordered by the Potomac River to the North, Rappahannock River to the South, and the Chesapeake Bay to the East. It is the birthplace of George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, and Robert E. Lee, contains 1,100 miles of shoreline, five state parks, and is the home of 8 very good wineries which are open to the public. There are several roads into the Neck but if you are driving from Maryland or DC don’t take I95. Trust me, the road is congested and will ruin your trip right from the start. Take the Beltway to either routs 4 or 5 and then head south on 301. There is a minimal one-way toll to cross the Potomac but it is well worth it.

While many tourist areas of Virginia are usually cluttered with traffic, vacationers, monuments that block the landscape, and plaques that tell you peanuts were planted near that particular location, the Neck is almost pristine. The routs are easy to follow but I suggest you get a map either from chesapeakebaywinetrail.com or pick one up at the first vineyard you visit.

Unfortunately Nancy and I didn’t have the chance to reach every winery we did visit a good selection. Our first stop was at the Oak Crest where everyone was very friendly and the wine surprisingly good. Neither Nancy nor I are wine connoisseurs, we just like what tastes good to us and Oak Crest had several wines fitting that description. The Hot Jazz appealed to me the most probably because it contained Jalapeno peppers. Great for sipping and taking home to entertain and surprise friends.

Tasting wines on an empty stomach is not a good idea so we took a side trip to nearby Colonial Beach. This city has a large beach, nice boardwalk, and good food. I highly suggest you try it.

Next stop, Ingleside Vineyards which is one of Virginia’s oldest and largest wineries. A basic tasting costs $3 and a full tasting only $10. The Blue Crab Blush alone was worth the stop but try several. The Chesapeake Cabernet Merlot is said to have a hint of black cherry but my pallet isn’t sophisticated enough to detect it. It was good though, as was the Syrah.

The Vault Field Vineyards are very neatly laid out with decorative signs telling you which grape is growing where. As a steak lover I have to say that their reds were fantastic, especially the Reserve Red. It screams to be matched with a quality rib eye or porterhouse. Don’t skip the others though, getting to the one you like is most of the fun.

The Hague as I recall is located on 5 acres, contains about 6,000 vines, and offers a very good Cabernet Franc. As far as I could see, the Hague is the smallest vineyard we visited but produced some excellent wines. The owners, as at the other locations, were extremely friendly and could answer all of our questions. The watch dog didn’t really want to have anything to do with us though as he was in search of a cool and comfortable place to lie down.

At first I felt bad that we did not have the opportunity to visit every vineyard in the Neck. As most people we originally thought of the area as nice but probably not worth more than a half day. Next year we will revisit it though, stop at the wineries we have already seen and travel to the others as well. We will also take in the historical sites, go back to Colonial Beach, and possibly stay the night at a B&B.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Step Through A Time Warp

You walk up the path from the Ford Orientation Center, look to your left and the white plantation house with its’ red roof, and large bowling green framed by tall trees takes you back to 1799. Tourists merge with the guides who are dressed in costumes of the day and you feel like you are at a busy estate in the middle of a large working farm and business. Let your imagination wonder. This is where Rochambeau met with the General to finalize the battle of Yorktown, Lafayette journeyed to discuss human rights and democracy with the Father of our Country, and Bishop John Carroll spoke with George Washington about God and religious freedom. Grounds that felt the shadows of Jashua Barney, Thomas Coke, Lois Guillaume Valentin DuBourg, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Lee, James Madison, John Marshall, George Mason, James Monroe, Eliza O’Connor, Thomas Pinckney, Edmund Randolph, John Searson, Thomas Stone, and Noah Webster. You can almost picture George and Martha taking a leisurely stroll to meet you as they did with these great people and more. You can feel the history throughout your body and mind and a new understanding of the man emerges.

This is Mount Vernon, the home of our first and greatest President and it is waiting for you to experience.

Located just 16 miles south of Washington, DC, on the Virginia side of the Potomac River it is very easy to reach, parking is free, and the estate is dog friendly. You can drive, use a bus, ride a bicycle from Alexandria (just 8 miles), or even take a boat from Old Town and dock at the estates refurbished peer. Admission varies with age from Free for children under 6 to $15 for adults 12 to 61. Very reasonable since Mt. Vernon does not accept grants from any government and exists totally from admission fees, gift store receipts, dining revenues, and donations from individuals and corporations.

As an overview, you will see the mansion, 20 outbuildings, a working farm, the 16 sided treading barn designed by the General himself, gardens, slave quarters, the tombs of George and Martha Washington, the slave cemetery, and the banks of the Potomac. In addition you can and should spend a good deal of time in the Ford Orientation Center, Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center, and for $2 more, the Distillery and Grist mill. Yes, distillery. George Washington probably made more whiskey than anyone in the United States at the time and for a practical reason. We know him as our first President, the General who lead us to victory in the Revolutionary War but he was also a family man, highly successful business man, architect, horticulturalist, inventor, farmer, and much more. Had he chopped down the cherry tree his reason would probably be to help someone, the fruit would have been canned, the leaves turned to mulch, the twigs used as kindling, and the trunk turned into furniture. He would probably have sold some of it also. This is the mindset I want you to have during your visit.

Your first stop is the Ford Orientation Center and the first impression is a life sized statue of George, Martha, and Martha’s two grandchildren, Neglly and Washy. A guide will shake your hand, tell you about what you are going to see, answer questions and give you a map. You will need the map because this is no small place. There are stained glass windows depicting five scenes from Washington’s life and a huge floor-to-ceiling wall of glass to keep you in touch with the plantation as the General would have wanted it. Then there is the 1/12 scale working model of the mansion. It automatically opens to reveal every room of the home accompanied by plaques explaining some of the details. At this point you are in line for one of two 450 seat theaters where the learning process will begin in a highly entertaining way.

Next stop, the mansion. This was actually a rather small house when Washington first moved to the property with his parents and siblings in 1738. It was called Little Hunting Creek tobacco plantation at the time and they actually lived in a different house, this being left vacant. Washington inherited the estate in 1752 from his half brother Lawrence and began to renovate and expand both the house and the property. You will learn that Washington was not only the chief architect but also landscaper. On top of that he designed many of the tools and processes and turned some of that into additional profitable businesses.

There is so much to say about the house itself that books have been written on the subject. I will let you learn first hand and feel the excitement from his warm family life, entertaining everyone who dropped by, and the sadness from the death of his adopted Patsy at age 17 from an epileptic seizure. Washington himself died in the Master Bedroom and Martha never used it again. You will be overwhelmed. Stop for a few minutes on the piazza (back porch) overlooking the Potomac River. Washington designed this also as a place to meditate, recreate, and enjoy his beloved river. You will quickly understand the attraction.

There are four gardens with plants known to have been at Mt. Vernon in the late 1700’s. You see, few details have been missed. As I understand it 13 trees still exist that the President had planted. Understandably the vegetable plants were near the house and used to feed the family, staff, and slaves. Flowers were also near for their own beauty and use in the house. Washington experimented with these plants and developed new strains.

The outbuildings are fascinating. A kitchen building to keep the heat away from the main living space, storehouse, smokehouse, and wash house. There is also a large open area, it is not for recreation. This is what we would call today, the dryer. Clothing and linen were hung here daily to dry and it is directly behind the wash house.

The coach house, stable and paddock are near the stercorary (covered dung repository). Washington believed animal waste, combined with plant waste, made a good fertilizer and all the components were available. Being well aware of the value of time he located these structures in close proximity to each other. All these buildings are well worth your time for examination. Stop and feel the activity that must have gone on here each day.

You are walking toward the Potomac but before that is the Old Tomb. Washington was buried here initially and later moved. He saw that the structure was beginning to crumble and designed a new resting place for himself, Martha, and the family. There is a place in the Capital Building for his remains but Washington loved Mount Vernon, stated in his will that he should be buried there, and the family honored his request.

Now you should be approaching the fruit garden and nursery. Washington not only used these for the dining table and to sell but also for experimentation. He was a self-taught botanist and horticulturalist and tried to develop more weather tolerant and productive crops. While originally a tobacco plantation the General noted quickly how tobacco severely ruined the soil. He sought other crops that did less damage and were more profitable and developed a rotation to increase the yield. Wheat replaced tobacco as the chief crop but corn, oats, barley, rye, buckwheat, alfalfa, and vegetables were also raised in large quantities.

A little further east is Washington’s tomb, the final resting place of George, Martha and several family members. It is curious to note that the inscription calls him General and not President. Thomas Jefferson did not have the presidency mentioned on his gravestone in Monticello either.

The wooded hill to your side is the graveyard of the slaves and freed blacks who worked at Mt. Vernon. Interestingly none of the graves are marked and nobody knows the names or number of people buried there. A sad commentary but in a way this land tells a great story about an unforgivable period in of American history. Mt. Vernon does mention slavery on several occasions but not nearly enough. For instance I never found mention of Billie Lee, Washington’s manservant from about 1768 to the General’s death, who was with him throughout the war and Presidency and the only slave directly freed in Washington’s will. There were 277 slaves on the plantation, 124 owned by Washington and 153 owned by Martha but little is known about any of them. The will does state that the 124 would be freed upon Martha’s death though she freed them earlier.

Your next stop is the wharf. Cargo ships from the other colonies and Europe would load here, taking goods from Mt. Vernon to wherever the price was best. You can assume Washington also used this for his neighbors, at a fee, because the General always had an eye for increasing his profitability. He was a very aggressive and fair businessman

To the south are cooking and craft demonstrations depending on the season so you can get an idea of what life in the 1790’s was like. No pizza’s or microwaves, everything home made. Then there is the pioneer farm site so you can get a feeling of how the property must have looked. This plot of land is approximately 4 acres compared to the 5,000 Washington owned in 1790. The 16 sided barn, which Washington designed, is a very interesting building. Horses were used to trample the grain and this process would contaminate the yield. Washington solved much of the problem but still in a very pioneer fashion. I compared it to the process now used and realized what it must have been like to live at that time.

You can walk to the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center or take a ride on one of the busses. It is a fair distance away but and enjoyable journey. If your legs are asking for break though, take the bus.

By now you may find yourself a little hungry so I suggest a stop at the food court or Mount Vernon Inn. The food court is good and offers pizza, gourmet burgers, subs, salads and hand-dipped ice cream. The Inn is great though with atmosphere, really taste food, and a peanut and chestnut soup that is worth the trip on its own. I understand that the crab cakes are delicious also but I’m from Maryland and there is nothing like a real Maryland Crab Cake. I’ll tell you more about this in another post.

I can not tell you enough about the Reynolds Museum and Education Center. It appeals to all ages and gives you a glimpse into Washington as a General, President, husband, father, and businessman. It takes time to see and digest. There is a film about the relationship between the George and Martha that is a must see. How they met, how they lived, and what they were to each other. Don’t miss it. There is another film about the General, in a separate location, that brings you inside. Simulated snow falls during the Valley Forge portion.

The museum begins with his early life and you learn about his family, ambitions, hardships, and travels through Virginia. You will see life sized replicas of Washington as a surveyor and accounts of his actions in the French and Indian War. The Fort Necessity fiasco is not overlooked and a diorama will make it more understandable. The Revolutionary War and Presidency times are addressed as well as the importance of Mt. Vernon with some insight into slave life. Artifacts include the goblet used at his christening, paintings, tools, and his famous teeth. You can spend half a day in this building alone and you will come out with a much better understanding of just who George Washington really was.

If you still have some time please visit the gristmill. It is not on the site but only 3 miles down the road. Washington realized that his grain and corn would sell for a good amount but he could make more if he turned it into flour and cornmeal. It was also cheaper to ship. The better the quality the better the price so he invested in a gristmill in 1754 which was upgraded in 1791. As it turned out the mill was shipped to him without instructions so he and his people had to figure out how to put it together, which they did. He located it close to Piney Branch which was diverted through the mill to Dogue Run Creek so the water could power the mill and carry the product to the Potomac for further shipment.

Farm Manager James Anderson suggested that the rye, corn, and barley could be fermented into whiskey, brandy, and vinegar with the addition of a distillery so one was built in 1797 alongside the gristmill and produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey each year. By 1799 the distillery was the most successful enterprise of Mt. Vernon. The gristmill and distillery produced a large quantity of waste which Washington used as a fertilizer component and to feed 150 head of cattle and 30 hogs being raised on-site.

Most people remember Mount Vernon as a half day trip made only on good weather days. This is not so anymore. Take my advice and visit it now. This may be the best attraction in the entire DC area.

If you have an extra dollar or two please consider leaving it as a donation. Mt. Vernon is owned and run by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association which is the oldest historic preservation organization in the United States. They have done and continue to do a remarkable job preserving and presenting our greatest President, George Washington.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Great Day in Rockville

Did you know that a woman held off the Confederate cavalry and helped determine the outcome of the battle at Gettysburg? How would you like to view the final resting place of two modern American writers? What about a cast iron storefront, a doctors office from 1852, the Underground Railroad, the vote for independence from England, camp grounds from the French and Indian War, prelude to Brown v Board of Education? Well then Rockville, MD is the place for your next day trip.

Located just north of the DC Beltway and East of I-270 as well as being a stop on the Metro Red Line Rockville is convenient to auto and commuter travel. Parking is plentiful and the Metro stop is along the walking tour. Couple this with an abundance of locations to shop at, eat in, and just see there really is no reason to pass this trip up.

While Francis Scott Key was born in Carroll County one of his better know decedents, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, is buried at Old St. Mary’s Church in Rockville with his wife Zelda. Zelda? Yes, I am talking about F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre. Theirs is an easy to find, large marker, with an inscription from The Great Gatsby. It is also normally adorned with miniature liquor bottles left by readers of all ages.

St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church is located at the corner of Veirs Mill Rd. and the Rockville Pike, just a short walk from the Rockville Metro Station. I really enjoyed the old country feel it exudes both outside and within. You can visualize the townspeople and Irish immigrant canal workers who attended services in the 1800’s and feel the calm spirituality they must have experienced at Mass, first communions, confirmations, and funerals.

Just behind the Church is the newest stage of the historic renovation. Narrow tree lined streets, a Victorian-Gothic railroad station, and the brick cast-iron Wire hardware store. Actually they give you more the feel of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

A few blocks away is the courthouse area, the center of town. It was here in taverns that now are no more than a memory where townspeople discussed such mundane issues as zoning and street construction but on occasion debated independence from England, slavery, and the rights of the individual. One building still remains and rings with the legal arguments of Thurgood Marshall as he represented William Gibbs. Gibbs was an African-American teacher who was being paid much less, about 57%, than Caucasian teachers were paid. This was one of Marshall’s first cases involving disparities in education and helped steer him to the historic Brown v Board of Education of Topeka case of 1954 which overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine of that guided the nation after 1896.

Almost 200 years earlier, while Rockville was no more than a crossroads called Owen’s Ordinary, British General Edward Braddock and his troops camped on the grounds around the present day courthouse. They were about to meet with George Washington and Benjamin Franklin to discuss tactics to be used in the French and Indian War. You can see the plaque commemorating this on Maryland Ave. near the old courthouse.

Need some coffee or a little brunch. Head over to the town center two blocks away and you will find many establishments for a quick morsel or a meal. I would like to recommend one or two but I have tried them all believe your random selection will be just fine. You can eat inside or outside depending on your pleasure and the weather, which is almost always great.

Maryland was a Border state during the Civil War and residents of Rockville were split between their allegiance to the Union and Confederate sides. In June of 1863 J.E.B. Stuart brought his cavalry here to acquire supplies for the Army of Northern Virginia which was marching north to Pennsylvania and capture northern sympathizers who could be traded for more goods and money. Dora Higgins was hiding an injured 17 year old Union soldier in her home a few blocks from the town center, while her husband was trying to escape capture by taking sanctuary in a nearby church. Her neighbor, George Peter joined her though he was in fact a Southern sympathizer. Together they held off the invaders for hours until Stuart himself arrived. The two neighbors demanded that the troops leave enough supplies so residents could survive and release the prisoners who had already been arrested. When Stuart realized that he was alienating people who supported the South ordered his men to take only what was needed and release all prisoners outside of town. They then captured a 125 wagon Union supply train north of the city which slowed their progress enough to take them out of the first two days of the Battle of Gettysburg. Many believe this delay possibly cost General Lee a victory on Northern soil. The Higgins’ House still stands at the corner of West Middle and North Adams.

The Beall-Dawson home stands virtually across the street. It dates back to 1815 and is now open to the public as a museum. The exhibits are updated often and show how the residents lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is well worth your time to stop in. Outside is the Stonestreet Museaum of 19th Century Medicine. This is an actual former doctor’s office that has been moved to the property and contains artifacts depicting the life of a country doctor in the 1800’s. This was an exciting time when the practice of medicine saw tremendous advances.

Continue your walk to Jefferson St. and all along the four lane road you will find plaques telling the stories of the Underground Railroad, runaway slaves, and schools that reflect the life and turmoil of Rockville, similar to many other areas but often untold. A little further, on Vinson St. you can take a look at Christ Episcopal Church where residents sought sanctuary from J.E.B. Stuart and later Jubal Early. Sanctuary that was denied for hours. Early was on his way to attack Washington, DC but turned back at the outskirts of the Capital.

An internet search will reveal even more locations for your entertainment and education. Take a look and plan your next day trip in the Montgomery county seat, Rockville, MD.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ghosts of DC

Want to be the “hit” of your tour group? Try telling them the stories of ghosts and hauntings. It doesn’t matter if they are believers or not, they will be entertained by your tales and impressed by your knowledge of history.

Washington, DC may be the most haunted area in the United States with legends from almost every neighborhood so let me begin with one that has been reported in several locations, the Demonic Cat named DC. It is believed that DC lives in the sub sub sub levels of the National Capitol Building and normally appears when Administrations change and just before a national disaster such as the Great Depression and the assassination of President Kennedy. Not only does DC appear around the Capitol, on the Mall, and near the White House, the cat has a very strange quality. The cat appears to be a kitten until you approach, then DC begins to grow to the size of a leopard and may lunge. Don’t worry though because when you blink the cat disappears.

The Capitol Building is also known for some other strange occurrences. People have told of music coming from the Statuary Hall and the sculptures dancing through the halls. There are still others who have witnessed a Confederate Soldier roaming the Rotunda, which was used as a hospital during the Civil War. And then there is the story of a carpenter who is mysteriously missing. Apparently someone sealed him inside the walls.

The Supreme Court Building stands on the site of the Old Capitol Building. It received the name while the temporary location of employees after a fire hit the National Capitol Building. It was then used as a prison for Confederate soldiers, some of whom died while incarcerated. Years later some of our first Suffragettes made the building into their office and claimed to hear shouting, screams, banging, cursing, and moans while they held their meetings, apparently from the ghosts of the Rebels.

The Library of Congress is home to possibly the friendliest of ghosts. One is a deceased Police Officer who has helped people lost in the stacks find their way out. Another is said to have moved shelves during a renovation allowing workers to move materials. Of course Thomas Jefferson can not be skipped over as he sold his personal 6,487 volumes to the Library just after the British torched the Capitol and two years before his death. He can be heard walking the stairs and closing doors.

Lafayette Square is probably the most haunted place in all of Washington, and not just because the White House is there. Commodore Stephen Decatur lived just around the corner and while in his early 40’s was killed in a duel and died in the home. Decatur, a hero of the War of 1812 and the Barbary Wars was thought of as a future President so he and his family had moved to the location just two years earlier. Many people have claimed to see the Naval hero walking inside the building, now a museum, as well as looking out the window.

Philip Barton Key, son of Francis Scott Key and nephew of Chief Justice Roger Taney was shot to death by Congressman Daniel Sickles on Lafayette Square for having an affair with Sickles wife Teresa. While the home no longer stands Key is often seen roaming the area.

The Hay-Adams Hotel stands just across from the White House on the site of the Winter residence of Henry and Marian “Clover” Adams. Cover committed suicide in 1885 but is said to frequent the hotel, hug staff members, and call people by name. If you smell Mimosa or hear doors closing, say hello to Clover.

A rather small yellow home still stands across the street from the Hay-Adams, the Cutts-Madison House, at 721 Madison Place NW. This was built by the Brother-In-Law of Dolly Madison and purchased by President Madison some time later. Dolly moved there for a while after the President died and for good after selling the Montpelier estate. Changes were made over the years but Dolly is often seen sitting in a rocking chair where the West porch once was. If you see her talking to someone it may be one of the eight Presidents who visited her there or possibly First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy who saved the structure from demolition.

The Willard Hotel stands across the street from the Treasury Building at 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. and has been the temporary residence of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Harriet Beecher Stowe and many others. President Grant normally walked there after office hours for a drink and cigar. When people discovered this they would stand in the hallway waiting to talk to him about an issue or a job. He called them “Lobbyists”. Some visitors and staff have smelled the aroma of the cigars as his spirit is said to be still hanging around. Remember, DC has a law against smoking in public building areas.

The White House requires tickets to enter which you must get through your Congress Person and security is very strict so you probably will not be able to investigate spirits there but they exist. Among those who have claimed encounters are Winston Churchill, Grace Coolidge, Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Queen Wilhelmina, Ronald Reagan’s dog, and secret service agents. And who did they see? How about Abe Lincoln, his son Willie, John Kennedy, William Henry Harrison, Abigail Adams (carrying laundry), Eleanor Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, Dolly Madison (in the Rose Garden), Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler, Frances Cleveland (Grover’s wife), David Burns (the original owner of the land), and an unknown British soldier. Oh, and DC, the Demon Cat.