Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Who's Haunting the White House? The President's Mansion and the Ghosts Who Live

Who's Haunting the White House? The President's Mansion and the Ghosts Who Live

Jeff Belanger
Illustrator:  Rick Powell 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 8 to 12
Sterling Children's Books, 2012   ISBN: 978-1454900269

The White House is the most famous building in the United States, the place where the current President lives with his family and the many other people whose job it is to “keep the White House running.”  Considering how many people have lived and worked in this building over the years, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the White House is haunted by a wide variety of ghosts. All you have to do is to look back on the White House’s history and you will find out that people have been seeing ghosts in the building for many decades.

In 1961 one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s valets heard a spectral voice calling out, a voice saying that his name was Mr. Burns. It turns out that the man who owned the land that the White House was built on was called Mr. Burns. Apparently, some of the ghosts have been around for a very long time.

When Abigail Adams moved into the White House, it was far from complete, and it was not a comfortable residence. Many of the rooms were not finished, and a fair number had very little furniture in them. The East Room was so empty that Abigail used to hang washing lines across it and used the space for drying laundry. It would appear that the former first lady is still doing this, in a ghostly form. A number of people have seen her hanging ghostly laundry in the East Room or have smelled soap and wet laundry.

One of the presidents in particular saw things that disturbed him enough that he told his wife and a journalist about them. Abraham Lincoln saw a double image of himself in a mirror, one of the images being “a little paler” than the other. His wife felt that the vision was a sign that something bad would happen in the future, which is what did indeed happen. Lincoln’s ghost has been seen many times in the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House. The ghost was seen by Lady Grace Coolidge, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, and several other people. When Sir Winston Churchill came to the White House, he only spent one night in the Lincoln Bedroom, seeking a more restful bedroom for the remainder of his stay.

President Truman apparently experienced ghostly doings on several occasions when he was in residence at the White House. He wrote about his experiences in letters that he sent to his wife and in entries in his diary. He also talked about them with friends and associates.

In this fascinating book the author delves into the White House’s past, telling us the story of the building in a compelling way, and helping us to understand what the building has experienced over the years. As we read, we come to realize that such a place, one so full of stories, would surely be just the place to be frequented by ghosts. Readers are given accounts of ghost sightings, and we find out who the ghosts were and perhaps why they chose to haunt the rooms, hallways, and gardens of one of the world’s most famous buildings.