THE OCTAGON HOUSE
LONGEST LIST OF THE LONGEST STUFF AT THE LONGEST DOMAIN NAME AT LONG
The story of the Octagon House.
The Octagon is a
building that sits just one block away from the White House in
Washington, D.C. The building has only six sides but that is not the
only strange thing about this landmark. Just as the exterior of the
building has a strange shape, there are many rooms and closets that
are also unusually shaped. In the centre of the house sits an oval
staircase. But perhaps the strangest thing about the Octagon is that
it is known to have a sad history that has left many ghosts behind.
A man named Dr. William Thorton
designed the house and Colonel John Tayloe III built it in 1801 to
fit his family, which included fifteen children. Of these fifteen
children were eight girls. Tayloe also used the house to entertain
political figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and
At the time of the War of 1812, one of
Tayloe’s daughters fell in love with a British soldier and the
couple started secretly seeing each other. She would sneak out of
the house on many nights to meet her lover and would sneak back in.
One night as she was sneaking back into the house, her father met
her in the stairway. They had a vicious fight and the girl fell over
the railing. The fall was fatal and the girl died immediately.
Tayloe always insisted that her death was an accident but no one
could ever be sure.
Tayloe couldn’t stand to be in the
house where such an unfortunate incident occurred. He moved his
family to a Virginia plantation. They invited the French embassy to
occupy the house in their absence.
In 1814 British soldiers burned down
the White House along with many other buildings leaving President
James Madison and his wife Dolley were left with nowhere to live.
Tayloe invited them to stay at the Octagon until the White House was
rebuilt and they could move back in to their own home. They made
themselves comfortable in the home and lived and entertained as
though it were their own.
Once the White House was suitable for
living again, the Madison’s moved back in and the Tayloe’s moved
back into the Octagon. Another daughter of Colonel Tayloe fell in
love with someone that he did not approve of and she too, was caught
sneaking up the stairs one evening after meeting her lover. Not
learning from past mistakes, the Colonel pursued an argument with
her on the staircase and she too, fell to her death.
After the Tayloe’s sold the home in 1855, it was used for many
different purposes. During the Civil War it was a hospital and
afterwards, the rooms were rented out as apartments. In one of these
apartments lived a man who liked to gamble and hold poker games in
his apartment. One night, a man he had invited to his poker game got
angry because he believed that the owner of the apartment had
cheated him of his money. The apartment owner was shot dead on the
All of these occurrences make for very
strange happenings around the building. The first daughter of
Colonel Tayloe that fell from the stairs has been seen coming back
to re-enact her death. It is this re-enactment that has left
questions in many minds as to whether her death was in fact, an
accident. At first, only the light of a candle can be seen moving up
the stairs. It stops suddenly and starts moving back down. Then a
girl’s shriek is followed by a thump at the bottom of the stairs.
Dolley Madison’s ghost has also been
seen wandering around the house. Even in death she is elegantly
dressed with a big hat made of feathers that she wore constantly
while alive because she believed that it gave the illusion of her
being taller. Her lilac perfume can also be smelled throughout the
home. The sounds of carriages being led by horses can also be heard
coming up the driveway and it’s believed that this is the sound of
the Madison’s guests coming for the many parties that Madison’s
The cold spot that lies at the bottom
of the oval stairway is where Tayloe’s second daughter died and it’s
believed that she is not only responsible for this cold spot but
also for the rug that is often turned up on one end. People have
also reported that they feel the presence of someone lying on the
floor in the place that she died.
The gambler who was shot in his
apartment has also been seen in the room that was his apartment. He
is found in the same way he died, reaching for his gun. It was in
1902 that the American Institute of Architects purchased the house
and began renovations. It was during the renovations that they found
a skeleton of a girl hid in the walls with her fists clenched. It
has been said that this girl was a servant in the house when it was
occupied by the French embassy. She also fell in love with a British
soldier and it was during one of their fights that he killed her and
hid her body in the wall. This could be explanation for the thumping
sounds that had been heard for almost the entire past century. Once
the skeleton was removed and the girl was given a proper burial, the
thumping sounds stopped.
Although activity at the Octagon has
slowed down, spirits and ghosts still remain in and around the
building. Today the building is known as the museum of the American
The Octagon House
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