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U.S. Capital Building

U.S. Capital Building paranormal

Location submitted by: sdonley on 01/21/2011
DBA Approved: Y

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PANICd#: 1053

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An example of 19th-century neoclassical architecture, the Capitol evokes the ideals that guided the Founding Fathers as they developed the new republic.

E Capitol St NE & 1st St NE
Washington , DC 20002
Phone: 202-226-8000
Open to the public: Unknown

Lat: 38.889812
Lon: -77.0059285

Database Summary:

Demographic Rank: 6
History: 1
Stories: 1
Claims: 15
Evidence: 0
Resources: 1
Retrievals: 7790
Vistor Rating: 5.0
Votes: 1

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History information is some background and history about the location. This is meant to be a basic summary. Below the history records you will find sources in which you can click on to find out more information. There may be multiple history records per location.

The United States Capitol is among the most symbolically important and architecturally impressive buildings in the nation. It has housed the meeting chambers of the House of Representatives and the Senate for two centuries. The Capitol, which was started in 1793, has been through many construction phases. It stands today as a monument to the American people and their government.

An example of 19th-century neoclassical architecture, the Capitol evokes the ideals that guided the Founding Fathers as they developed the new republic. Pierre Charles L'Enfant was expected to design the Capitol, but his dismissal in 1792 due to his refusal to cooperate with the Commissioners of the Federal Buildings, resulted in other plans. A competition was suggested by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and President George Washington that would award $500 and a city lot to whomever produced the winning plan by mid-July. None of the 17 plans submitted were satisfactory. In October, a letter arrived from Dr. William Thornton, a Scottish-trained physician living in the British West Indies, requesting an opportunity to submit his plan after the competition was closed. The Commissioners granted his request and President Washington commended the plan that was soon accepted by the Commissioners.

The cornerstone was laid by President Washington on September 18, 1793. Because of Thornton's inexperience, the initial work progressed under the direction of three architects in succession. Stephen H. Hallet and George Hadfield were dismissed because of inappropriate design changes they tried to impose; James Hoban, winner of the competition for the President's House, was placed in charge and saw to the completion of the north wing for the first session of Congress on November 17, 1800. In 1803, construction resumed under Benjamin Henry Latrobe who completed the south and north wings. By 1813, Latrobe, with his job done, departed with the wings connected by a temporary wooden passageway.

On August 24, 1814, British troops set fire to the building during the War of 1812. A rainstorm prevented its complete destruction and Latrobe returned to Washington in 1815 to make repairs. He took this opportunity to make changes to the building's interior design and to introduce new materials, such as marble. Latrobe, however, resigned his post in November of 1817 because of construction delays and increasing costs. Charles Bulfinch, a Boston architect, was appointed Latrobe's successor in January of 1818. Continuing the restoration, he was able to make the chambers of the Senate and House, as well as the Supreme Court, ready for use by 1819. Bulfinch redesigned the central section, making the dome that topped the section higher. Bulfinch spent his last couple of years on the Capitol's landscaping and decoration until his position was terminated in 1829.

Capitol, sketch after 1812 burning (gift of James Goode)
Historical Society of Washington, DC
By 1850, the Capitol could no longer accommodate the increasing numbers of senators and representatives. Another competition was held offering $500 for the best plan to extend the Capitol. Unable to decide between the plans, Congress divided the money between five architects and Thomas U. Walter was chosen to complete the task. Walter supervised the construction of the extensions, making sure they were compatible with the existing style of the building, but using marble for the exterior instead of sandstone, which deteriorates quickly. As the wings progressed, they more than doubled the length of the Capitol making the dome too small for the new proportions. In 1856, the old dome was removed and work began on a replacement with a new, fireproof cast-iron dome. Construction was suspended in 1861 so that the Capitol could be used as a military barracks, hospital and bakery for the Civil War. However, in 1862, construction resumed, because Lincoln believed that the Capitol must go on, just as the Union must go on.

The work on the dome and extensions was completed in 1868 under Edward Clark, who had served as Walter's assistant until his resignation in 1865. Clark held the post of Architect of the Capitol until his death in 1902. Considerable modernization occurred during his tenure, as well as the construction of the marble terraces on the north, west, and south sides of the Capitol. The terraces were constructed as part of the grounds plan devised by landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. After a fire in November 1898, the need for fireproofing became evident. Elliot Woods, Clark's successor, saw to the reconstruction and fireproofing of the damaged wing.

The 20th century has seen even further changes for the Capitol. Under the direction of J. George Stewart, the appointed Architect of the Capitol, the East front extension added 102 more rooms from 1959 to 1960. The stonework was also changed from sandstone to Georgia marble during the process. After a public protest at further plans to expand in the 1970s, the plans were dismissed and the vote went to restore, rather than enlarge, the West Front. Since then, primary emphasis has been on strengthening, renovating and preserving the building.

Today, the Capitol covers a ground area of 175,170 square feet and has a floor area of about 16.5 acres. In addition to its use by Congress, the Capitol is a museum of American art and history. It stands as a focal point of the government's legislative branch and as a centerpiece of Capitol Hill and the National Mall.


Added by: sdonley on 01/21/2011 DB#:56


Stories are just that. Stories and personal accounts that have been reported about the location.


The original ghost reportedly still roaming the corridors of the Capitol belongs to a stonemason whose body was sealed into a wall while the building was under construction. Supposedly a hotheaded carpenter smashed his skull and buried him. He has been seen--trowel in hand--passing through a wall on the Senate side.

Some people also claim to have seen the silent specter of a workman who fell around 1860 from the dome's scaffolding to the Rotunda's marble floor. On anniversaries of his fall, the worker, clad in faded overalls and carrying his tool kit, is believed to retrace his journey to the Rotunda.

Eternal orator of Statuary Hall.

Before the House and Senate wings were added to the Capitol in the 1850s, the House of Representatives met in what is now Statuary Hall. Some say they see an "illuminated transparency" that closely resembles John Quincy Adams at night.

After serving one term as president (1825--29), Adams was elected nine times as a representative from Massachusetts (1831--1848). When he was 81 years old he suffered a stroke in the midst of condemning the war with Mexico. After falling unconscious on the House floor, he was carried a short distance into the Speaker's office, where he died two days later. Soon afterward, stories began to circulate that his spirit had been returning to the chamber, standing where his desk used to be, and delivering his unfinished speech. That is the whispering spot: If guides go to another section of the hall, their whispers can be heard there.

Another legend of Statuary Hall is that statues come to life on the stroke of midnight each New Year's Eve to celebrate another year of the Republic. One guard claimed to have seen Grant and Lee shaking hands.

A general and his warhorse

John Logan, a member of Congress before the Civil War, resigned to fight and eventually became a successful Union general. He returned in 1871 as a senator from Illinois. A radical Republican and chairman of the Military Affairs Committee, he wielded considerable power during Reconstruction. Some say he is at it still, since he has been spotted eavesdropping outside his old committee room.

After air-conditioning ducts had been installed in the Capitol basement, workmen discovered a stuffed horse in a sealed room, and the Logan legend got another chapter. It seems that when his mount died, the general had it stuffed and displayed inside the Capitol as a reminder of his battlefield exploits. Before long, folks were claiming to have seen his ghost wandering the basement corridor, looking for his steed.

Spirit and blood on the gallery stairs

The reminder of one murder can be seen on the steps leading to the House Press Gallery. In the winter of 1890, former congressman William Taulbee returned to the Capitol after several years' absence. He happened to meet Louisville Times reporter Charles Kincaid. Taulbee believed that Kincaid's stories had caused his defeat. The former lawmaker threatened the newspaperman and told him that he'd better be armed the next time they met.

Sure enough, the journalist started carrying a gun. The next time they met was on the stairs leading to the press gallery. Their words became heated; Kincaid pulled his gun and shot Taulbee in the head. Seriously wounded, the former congressman died about a week later. Bloodstains splattered the marble steps and discoloration can be seen to this day. Some say Taulbee's spirit remains nearby, seeking to trip any journalist who ventures up the stairs.

The demon cat

Perhaps the most famous--or infamous--apparition in the Capitol isn't that of a man at all but of the Demon Cat, sometimes referred to flippantly as "'DC." The cat makes its home in the catacombs under the crypt, a circular room that contains models of the Capitol but was intended to be George Washington's burial place.

For over a hundred years this phantom feline has roamed the darkened corridors of the Capitol. One January, a guard patrolling a chilly, dark hallway saw a shadowy cat walking silently toward him. He says it looked as though it was swelling. The guard felt paralyzed as he stared into the glowing, piercing eyes. The animal swelled to the size of a tiger, leaped at the man, and disappeared.

Although an infrequent visitor, the Demon Cat is reputed to be an accurate portent. This most famous of all the Capitol's legendary apparitions always is seen just before a national tragedy or on the eve of a change in administrations. Many who frequent the halls of the Capitol dread the Demon Cat for what it represents.

The ghosts of the library.

From 1800 until 1897, the Library of Congress occupied part of the Capitol. Because many of its early manuscripts were destroyed in the 1814 fire, Congress bought most of Thomas Jefferson's personal library to re-create it. (Another fire in 1851 destroyed about half of the new collection.) In 1897, when its Capitol quarters became too small, the library moved into its current ornate structure across the street.

The section that once held the congressional library is reported to be haunted by its most dedicated employee, a little man remembered as "Mr. Twine." His sole task was to stamp due dates on book cards. Mr. Twine stayed at his post until late at night to be of service to his nation. So diligently and tirelessly did he perform his repetitive task that he's still at it. When that section of the Capitol is quiet, you can hear the click of his stamp.

Years later another librarian became better known after death than in life. He was a miserly man, without friends or family. He did not trust the Washington banks, so he hid his wealth in books he knew were unpopular. One day he suffered a stroke and died without disclosing his hiding place.

A few years later, when the library was being moved, his fortune was discovered. Workers are said to have found nearly six thousand dollars in various old books. Some say that the librarian's ghost can still be heard turning invisible pages, vainly searching for his lost wages throughout eternity.  

Added by: sdonley on 01/21/2011 DB#:1018

Paranormal Claims

Here are the paranormal claims for this location. These have been found through Internet research, reports from members, or reports from personal interviews. To add a claim, please contact, and we will review and add your information.

Claim # Added Added By Claim
1148 01/21/2011 sdonley Late at night a guard reported that in the hall filled with statues of presidents and Congressmen the statues came to life and moved around the room.
1149 01/21/2011 sdonley In the basement there is a cat and every time it has been seen, a national disaster occurs. For example; a guard spotted the cat in the late 30's and a week later the stock market crashed. It was also seen before President Kennedy's assasination.
1150 01/21/2011 sdonley In the Rotunda, a worker who was killed there has been seen floating around carrying a tray.
1151 01/21/2011 sdonley Sometimes you can see the spirit of a Civil War Soldier run through the Rotunda when it is very crowded. The Capital Building was used as a Barracks and Hospital during the Civil War.
1152 01/21/2011 sdonley In the Senate, there was a worker that was sealed alive in a wall during the construction of the building, he is occasional seen.
1153 01/21/2011 sdonley Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s, phantom has been seen. He was not paid for work he did to design the city that George Washington offered him, but he never got paid for it. He looks unhappy as he hurries along the hallways.
1154 01/21/2011 sdonley John Quincy Adam’s luminous ghost has been seen and heard.
1155 01/21/2011 sdonley James Abram Garfield, the second President to be assassinated died four months after he was sworn into Office is a haunter.
1156 01/21/2011 sdonley Also present is the shade of Charles Julius Guiteau, President Garfield's assassin, which has been sighted lurking on the stairs.
1157 01/21/2011 sdonley Vice-President Henry Wilson died of pneumonia while in office when he contracted it by bathing in a tub that had been in the basement. He haunts the Senate Wing. Guards have heard him coughing and sneezing when they could see no human being. People have felt a cold spot near his former office and smelled old time bath soap.
1158 01/21/2011 sdonley William Preston Taulbee, a Representative from Kentucky, is said to haunt the Capitol. He was killed by a feuding reporter, Charles Kincaid, who shot him on the stairs leading to the House Press Gallery. He died 11 days later. The steps leading to the pressroom are still stained by Taulbee’s blood. When a reporter trips on those steps, people say ghost is tripping them.
1159 01/21/2011 sdonley Capitol Police working at night say they have seen Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton working at his desk in National Statuary Hall although he died in the 1800s.
1160 01/21/2011 sdonley The apparition of General John Alexander has appeared at 12:30 AM, looking displeased while he stood at the door of the room once used by the Senate Committee on Military and Militia, one had had chaired in life. He has also been seen in one of the basements.
1161 01/21/2011 sdonley Mr. Twine was a dedicated hard worker. Guards still hear stamping books or papers in his office. One of his coworkers died of a stroke after putting $6,000 dollars worth of government bonds in a seldom used library book because he didn't trust banks. He opens books and flipping through them looking for his money. The bonds have never been found.
1162 01/21/2011 sdonley A custodian died at work and helps people do their jobs. Workers have seen a mop guided by unseen hands mopping the floors.

Paranormal Evidence

Paranormal evidence is based on claims that have been reported for this location. There can be several types of evidence; however, we have grouped them based on media type for better organization. Here you will find evidence that are logs, audio, video, or photographic.

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Additional Resources

This is a collection of Internet resources for this location. This section will house links to other websites that contain information related to history, claims, investigations, or even the location's website.

Architech of the Capital
Added: 01/21/2011 By: sdonley
Website that contains a ton of information about the Capital Building.

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