When we first selected our wedding date, people would jokingly ask us if we were doing a Halloween theme. No, of course we were not. However, I’ve recently obtained information that may change all that: the hotel site where we’ll have our reception is haunted.
Let’s step back a bit.
A couple weeks ago I took my fiancé on a mystery date. Told him to meet me at McCormick & Schmick’s on K and to wear casual clothes. After some oysters and beer, we headed outside to Farragut Square where we gathered with a handful of other curiosity seekers as darkness fell for the Most Haunted Houses D.C. Walking Tour. Surprise! My fiancé loves Washington history so I figured this was right up his alley. I knew it included such historic downtown locations as the White House and the Stephen Decatur House. What I did not know was that it included the hotel where we will celebrate our first day of wedded bliss. Nor did I know that pretty much every stop on the tour would include a tale of marital tragedy or brutal crime. Some highlights:
* The Tailor’s House on Farragut Square
Long story short: Tailor murders bride and seals her up into the wall.
* The Decatur House
Long story short: Decatur goes out and gets himself shot in a duel, leaving lovely wife without a husband.
* The Octagon
Yes, there’s a home in D.C. called “The Octagon.” It’s over by GW and is regarded as the most haunted site in D.C. And yes, of course we giggled like girls about the Anchorman connection.
Long story short, Part I: Young woman about to be proposed to by lover in the garden runs down the spiral staircase and takes a header over the low railing.
Long story short, Part II: Her sister disagrees with her father about the man she wants to marry. She takes a header over the low railing. (My advice to this family: those little sticky flowers old people put on the bottom of bathtubs. They’re inexpensive and go a long way toward preventing death and hauntings and such.)
* And finally, the Hay-Adams!
No, I didn’t know it was on the tour when I booked it. But by the time we started to walk toward it I had already had my delicate noodle so pumped full of stories of men murdering their brides, couples parted by death and what have you that I was cringing. (Oh and a Post photographer was along on our tour covering it for this Friday’s Weekend section and he found our anxiety just hi-larious.)
Long story long: it’s not actually the hotel that’s haunted, it was one of the two houses located on the site (The Adams House. Things were ducky at the Hay House apparently). Clover Hooper Adams, a Washington society figure in the late 1800s and devoted wife of Henry Adams, was known as a talented writer and photographer until she was found expired on her bedroom floor, having imbibed a potassium cyanide cocktail normally reserved for developing her photographs. But according to our tour guide, (I specifically attribute this theory to the guide in the event that there are still any litigious Adams descendants in town) there was a bit of suspicion cast Henry’s way when he acted oddly afterward. Like, say, when he published his autobiographical The Education of Henry Adams after Clover’s death and omitted his entire marriage to her. Really, can you blame her for haunting the manse? I would have haunted his publisher’s and agent’s houses, too. (Let that be a warning to you, fiancé.) Although Henry did do Clover a solid by commissioning the creepiest statue ever and erecting it in Rock Creek Cemetery in her honor. It stands as an eternal testament to the fact that their relationship was clearly fubar’ed.
Oh and as I watched the tour guide talk about the Hay-Adams location from behind splayed fingers, someone in the group asked what I was thinking. “So is the hotel haunted?” The best the tour guide could come up with was that occasionally lights on the fourth floor flicker on and off. And that a bellman once told her that he opened a wardrobe in one of the rooms one time and a flock of white doves flew out. But I’m going to chalk that up not to a haunting, but rather to a bellman at the hotel once being on acid.
Anyhoodles, we found the tour suitably creepy and enjoyable. (Although fiancé contended that the Jack the Ripper tour in London was better. “Yes,” I said. “I would imagine that a tour focusing on a madman hacking up hookers in London produced decidedly creepier results than once focusing on chicks who trip and fall over stair railings.”) They run the next two Wednesday nights at 7. It takes about two hours and costs $10. Can’t beat that. Just don’t go if you’re getting married soon.