10 Creepy Presidential Ghost Stories from the White House

The White House is a well-known historical landmark where many famous presidents have lived, but did you know it has a creepy past? The structure itself dates back to 1800 and has been the home of every president since John Adams. Being around that long - and being at the center of many monumental events - it's no wonder haunted White House stories exist. 

That means that there are quite a few ghost presidents and first ladies lurking within those walls. These scary Washington stories all focus on this one, single building and all of the eerie experiences people have had in it. 


  • Abraham Lincoln's Ghost Greets Noteworthy Visitors

    Abraham Lincoln is one of the most frequent haunts of the White House. He's been spotted looking out the windows in various rooms, pacing the floor, and knocking on doors and walls. His spirit has allegedly revealed itself to visitors on multiple occasions.

    One night in 1942, while Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was staying at the White House, there was a knock on her door. She opened it, saw Lincoln's ghost wearing his traditional top hat, and passed out from fright.

    Another instance occurred during World War II while Winston Churchill was visiting the White House. He emerged from his bathroom, naked and with a cigar in hand, only to see the spirit of Lincoln sitting in front of the fireplace in his room. Churchill exlaimed, “Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage.” Lincoln’s ghost, according to Churchill, then laughed and faded away.

  • Dolley Madison's Ghost Protects The Rose Garden
    Photo: Donna Spiewak/National Park Service / Wikipedia

    Dolley Madison's Ghost Protects The Rose Garden

    President James Madison's wife, Dolley Madison, one of the first presidential wives to embody the term First Lady, is said to haunt the White House Rose Garden. Legend has it that Madison was extremely fond of the gardens, and when other first ladies––most notably Ellen Wilson––tried to change the garden, her ghost scared off the gardeners. Some say you can see Madison's ghost smiling among the bushes. 

  • Andrew Jackson's Ghost Haunts The Rose Room
    Photo: NN - Paul Boyer / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

    Andrew Jackson's Ghost Haunts The Rose Room

    The ghost of Andrew Jackson has been heard laughing on multiple occasions in the Queen's Bedroom, or Rose Room. The most unnerving encounter, however, involved Mary Todd Lincoln, who not only heard Jackson's eerie, guttural laughter, but also witnessed his ghost stomping around the White House and swearing. 

  • "The Thing" Scared President Taft's Domestic Staff
    Photo: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

    "The Thing" Scared President Taft's Domestic Staff

    1911 was the year of "The Thing," a nickname given to the ghost of a 15-year-old boy who haunted the White House during the Taft administration. He would appear behind people at random, grab their shoulders as if leaning over to see what they were looking at, and then promptly disappear. Every member of Taft's domestic staff had a creepy encounter with the spirit––possibly even President Taft himself, who forbade people from talking about the ghost.