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Image: Halloween Special: Reagan, Churchill, Truman All Saw White House Ghosts

Halloween Special: Reagan, Churchill, Truman All Saw White House Ghosts

Thursday, 31 Oct 2013 12:40 PM

By Lisa Barron

The most famous address in America, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, may also be the country's most famous haunted house, with presidents, first ladies, staff members, and guests having reported seeing apparitions and feeling ghostly presences.

The most frequently reported sighting over the years has been the ghost of Abraham Lincoln, who apparently made a visit to the Reagan White House, writes journalist and artist Joan Gage on her Rolling Crone blog.

Re-posting what she calls her favorite White House ghost story on Halloween, Gage recalled being seated at Reagan's table at a state dinner she and her husband Nick attended in 1986.

Reagan told the story of how his King Charles Cavalier spaniel Rex had barked frantically in the Lincoln Bedroom and then refused to go back in. "And another evening, while the Reagans were watching TV in their room, Rex stood up on his hind legs, pointed his nose at the ceiling and began barking at something invisible overhead. To their amazement, the dog walked around the room, barking at the ceiling."

"The President laughed and said, 'I might as well tell you the rest. A member of our family [he meant his daughter Maureen] and her husband always stay in the Lincoln Bedroom when they visit the White House. Some time ago the husband woke up and saw a transparent figure standing at the bedroom window looking out. Then it turned and disappeared.'"

"'His wife teased him mercilessly about it for a month. Then, when they were here recently, she woke up one morning and saw the same figure standing at the window looking out. She could see the trees right through it. Again it turned and disappeared.'"

After the dinner, Gage said, she did some research and discovered that at least half a dozen presidents and the same number of first ladies have reported ghostly happenings in the White House.

"It's not just the ghost of Lincoln they see, although he tops the hit parade. He caused Winston Churchill, who was coming out of the bathroom naked but for a cigar when he encountered Lincoln, to refuse to sleep there again," Gage wrote. "And Abe so startled Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands that she fell into a dead faint when she heard a knock on the door and opened it to find Lincoln standing there."

Other sightings have included the ghost of first ladies Dolley Madison in the Rose Garden, which she planted, and Abigail Adams hanging laundry in the East Room.

Author Robert Klara offered his own insights into White House ghosts in a new book, "The Hidden White House: Harry Truman and the Reconstruction of America’s Most Famous Residence," released in time for Halloween.

The Truman family noticed several odd noises in the executive residence, according to Klara’s book.

"One night in 1946, Truman was sound asleep when he was awakened by three loud knocks on his door. The president hopped out of bed and answered the door, only to find an empty hallway," Klara wrote. He later heard what he believed to be footsteps in his daughter Margaret’s empty bedroom.

"'The . . . place is haunted as sure as shootin," Truman remarked.

The Obamas for their part have invited ghosts to the White House, along with goblins and other scary characters, to trick or treat for Halloween.

The president and first lady will welcome local children and those from military families at the south side of the mansion on Thursday, reports The Washington Post.

Obama has opened the White House to trick-or-treaters during all but one of his nearly five years in office, cancelling the festivities last year after Superstorm Sandy devastated much of the East Coast two days before Halloween.

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Halloween Marks the Passing of Time

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