Ghosts in the House

Spectral tales to ponder on a chilly October night.

By

The Walsh-McLean House, now the Embassy of Indonesia.

The Walsh-McLean House, now the Embassy of Indonesia.

The 1800’s were the heyday for ghosts in Washington. Seances were in high demand as the central attraction at house parties and even the most prominent people consulted with spiritualists in an attempt to reach their dearly departed. People believed in God and the devil with equal passion in those days and they were convinced that ghosts inhabited their former homes in search of the peace and resolution that had escaped them in death.

Now we want rational explanations for things that go bump in the night. Even so, powerful stories and images can still make us look over our shoulder on a dark evening. One such influence was the tremendous effect the 1973 film classic The Exorcist had on viewers, especially Washingtonians, who will never look at “the Exorcist Stairs” the same way. Maybe this can help us relate to previous generations’ fascination with ghosts.

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