Haunted Hotel: The Hay-Adams Hotel

With Halloween just a couple of weeks away, I felt now would be a great time to begin spotlighting some of the many hotels across the United States that are purportedly haunted, much like I did last year.

We begin with the Hay-Adams Hotel, a luxury hotel situated in Washington D.C. It occupies the site where the 1885 homes of John Hay and Henry Adams once stood at 16th and H Streets NW.

The site soon became a bustling scene of intellectual activity, hosting stimulating discussions about art, science, literature, and politics. Famous guests included Mark Twain, Henry James, and Teddy Roosevelt.

Hay had quite the resume. He served as a personal secretary to President Abraham Lincoln, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, and Secretary of State under Presidents William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt. Adams was a historian and Harvard professor, not to mention a descendant of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Both men were also accomplished writers.

In 1927, Harry Wardman bought the property and razed both homes. The hotel, designed by Mihran Mesrobian, was built the following year in Italian Renaissance style. The $900,000 structure featured elegant touches like walnut wainscoting and intricate ceiling treatments with Tudor motifs. Many historic details have been carefully preserved to this day.

Today, the boutique hotel boasts 145 well-appointed guestrooms, including 21 suites -- many of which overlook the White House and Lafayette Park. It also features a restaurant, bar, and free WiFi, among other amenities. In recent years, the hotel has played host to everyone from Amelia Earhart and Sinclair Lewis to the Obamas.

But what many guests find most alluring about the hotel is its supposed resident ghost, believed to be the spirit of Henry Adams's wife Marian Hooper Adams (nicknamed "Clover"), who committed suicide in 1885 before the hotel was built.

Her spirit is said to wander the fourth floor of the hotel, trailed by the scent of almond. (The chemical she ingested, potassium cyanide, smells like almonds.) Although she was often depressed and had just lost her father, rumors abounded that it may have in fact been a murder.

People have reported hearing sounds of a woman crying softly in a room or stairwell, as well as the voice of a woman asking, "What do you want?" in a room where no one else was to be found. Some housekeepers have reported their name being called out while they've been alone.

Other unexplained occurrences include clock radios turning on and off and the mysterious opening and closing of locked doors.

Sounds creepy, doesn't it? But for those who enjoy learning about and witnessing paranormal activity, the Hay-Adams Hotel is probably worth checking out next time they're visiting the nation's capital.

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