Why Do White House Ghost Stories Remain Popular?

A lot of First Families have seen strange sights there

The White House
The White House
Rosie Kerr/Unsplash

As many of us learned this year, the White House has a secret bunker located deep below it for use in emergencies. But that’s not the only unexpected feature for the famed location in Washington, DC. It turns out that the White House has also been the setting for countless ghost stories over the years — including some tales of the paranormal told by people who spent time there.

In a new article at CrimeReads, Andrew Pyper explored the history of some of these stories, and worked to unravel just why the home of the President has been the setting of so many tales of the uncanny. Pyper is the author of The Residence, a novel of the supernatural set during Franklin Pierce’s time in office, giving him a unique perspective on ghost stories past and present.

“The facts of history make it clear that the place is lousy with ghouls,” Pyper writes. “Multiple First Family members have noted strange and unexplained goings-on in their temporary abode.” This includes members of the Lincoln, Truman and Taft families.

Also significant to the White House’s haunted history: that it abounds with histories both fraught and shameful, with it having played a role in a number of unsettling events. Or, as Pyper phrases it, “The best way to understand the White House is as a haunted house.”

The portrait that Pyper summons up of the White House is one where strange shapes lurk in the background and odd sights and sounds make their presence known. It’s a particularly disquieting take on a familiar sight.

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