Halcyon House (Washington D.C.) History

Transcription: “I don’t know how substantial this actually is but there is a haunted house with 13 different spirits. The house is called Halcyon, and it was built in the late 1700s by a Revolutionary War veteran. He died in debt and is seen looking out over the Potomac River with a telescope waiting for his good fortunes to come up the river.”

My informant is a tour guide in Washington, D.C. One stop on his tour is an old house rumored to be haunted. The building is a residential property, therefore, my informant has never been inside the property himself, only heard the stories required as part of the city tour. The residential property is known as Halcyon House and it is intrinsically connected to American history. The property was built close to the Potomac River in 1787 by a Revolutionary War veteran. Instead of fulfilling the newly established “American dream,” the owner died in debt. Since the ghost stories take place in a real world setting and involve a historical figure, they fall under the category of legend.

Most major cities are built near water to provide access to trade. The Potomac River opens up Washington D.C. to trade with other cities, thus the river was reasonably associated with wealth and trade. The ghost of the Revolutionary War veteran is said to be seen looking out over the Potomac River with a telescope in the hopes that he will see wealth on the horizon.

A common theme in ghosts stories is that the ghosts remain trapped in the physical world because of unresolved regrets. The ghost story of the Revolutionary War veteran fits into this theme, possibly to provide an explanation for the spirit sighting or to romanticize the tragic failures of a man who fought for our country’s independence.

I was surprised when I learned that the house remains a residential property. As a historical landmark and spiritual haven for ghosts, the owners are living out a legend in more than one way.