- WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The
White House at night is a dark and spooky place, haunted, according to
legend, by ghosts of dead presidents and a former British soldier.
- "It is a big old house, and when the lights are
out it is dark and quiet and any movement at all catches your attention,"
longtime White House chief usher Gary Walters said on Friday during a Halloween
chat session on the White House Web site http://www.whitehouse.gov.
- President Bush, who was spending Halloween at his Texas
ranch, has never reported seeing a ghost, Walters said. But recent presidents
have felt the presence of their predecessors, he said.
- "The presidents that I have worked for have all
indicated a feeling of the previous occupants of the White House and have
all talked about drawing strength from the fact that the previous presidents
have lived here," he said.
- The spookiest area of the White House is probably the
president's living area, Walters said. "Every sound resounds through
- He declined to discuss any measures to protect the president
from a malevolent ghost.
- "I refer you to the Secret Service information officer,
as I'm not aware of the specifics in the security area," he said.
- The White House has long had a reputation for being haunted
-- most famously by the ghost of former President Abraham Lincoln.
- Lincoln's wife, Mary, reportedly heard the ghost of Andrew
Jackson "swearing up a storm," Walters said.
- Other stories of the supernatural related by Walters
included a seance by Mary Lincoln to recall the spirit of their dead son,
- When the wife of President Woodrow Wilson wanted to dig
up the rose garden, legend has it that the spirit of former first lady
Dolley Madison appeared and warned them not to disturb her garden, Walters
- "There is a story of a British soldier who died
on the White House grounds ... in 1814 when the White House was burned
by the British," Walters said. "It is said that some people have
seen a British soldier with a torch in his hand, although I have no personal
knowledge of this story."
- Walters said several staff members have had eerie experiences
and he described one he shared with three police officers.
- "I was standing at the state floor of the White
House. ... The police officers and I felt a cool rush of air pass between
us and then two doors that stand open closed by themselves. I have never
seen these doors move before without somebody specifically closing them
by hand. It was quite remarkable."
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