Archive for the Washington Category

under construction: the national building museum

Posted in DC, photography, Washington on June 17, 2011 by Pat Padua

I promised my niece more ghost stories, and I will make good on that promise before Halloween and much sooner. In the meantime, my every camera I own project spawned a spooky tale – or at least hints of one – on the bloggy, bloggy dew.

every camera i own: pingo

Do spectral faces whirl between the columns of the National Building Museum?

Washington Ghosts: Historic Strolls

Posted in DC, ghost tours, Washington on October 30, 2010 by Pat Padua

The spooky foyer of the Octagon House

Welcome to my semi-annual ghost blog post.  I have let the cobwebs accumulate and will do my best to dust them off and provide you the reader (and despite my complete inactivity on this blog, it still gets more hits than the mothership, The Bloggy Bloggy Dew).

I have been frightfully busy writing for other venues, for money and for glory. And for glory and comps I attended two tours run by Washington company Historic Strolls for DCist, where I am now a regular writer for Arts and Events. Read my ghost tour write-up here. I felt little eeriness during the Saturday tour outside the White House and environs. But a few nights later, the moment I went inside the Octagon House, I felt strange. Not a sinister strange but the kind of presence you feel in empty spaces that don’t feel quite empty.

The security guard who let our group into the building playfully hid behind the door, which is how the foyer was designed: to keep the servants out of the way and as unintrusive as possible. But perhaps there are those there who are still invisible, whose history will never be written. I’m willing to hear out their stories. I just signed up for National Novel Writing Month, and in order to meet the 50,000 word count required in order to “win”,  I’ll have to write on the order of 1600 words a day for the whole month of November. As this post will barely top 250 words, I beseech the spirits, be they external or internal forces, to find in me a proper conduit for their untold tales. I’ll need the help.

gravestone portraits

Posted in cemeteries, DC, Florida, photography, Washington on October 2, 2009 by Pat Padua

click here for my "gravestone portraits" set on flickr

See the full set of gravestone portraits here.

The graveyard is the final resting place of our corporeal selves, but these grounds, however hallowed, are not necessarily haunted places. What restless spirits wander the earth tend to do so in more emotionally charged places: sites of traumatic events like battlefields and murder scenes or the crossroads of horrible accidents, but also mundane locales like the workplace. Someone living or dead has likely shuffleboarded their mortal coil where you are right now; there are echoes of the living and the dead everywhere.

But I come here not to spook the living but to remember the dead. In my years of visiting cemeteries I’ve only this year begun to photograph the memorial portraits built into grave markers. The portraits may be of the deceased in the prime of youth, in a studio setting or in a favorite environment, as a way of taking the accoutrements of their hobby or profession into a hopeful afterlife. Some of the portraits I’ve seen are startling, some absurd, and a few make me wonder if that’s really how the dead wanted to be remembered. I only ask that you show them some respect.

cemeteries of pasco county

Black Aggie

Posted in DC, Washington on July 23, 2009 by Pat Padua

black aggie

Welcome to The bloggy, bloggy boo, my new blog documenting the eerie side of America.

I never thought much about ghosts since I was a neurotic kid, but when I started to travel with V. I began to be receptive to the strange feelings that went beyond adult neuroses. From the obvious charge of cemeteries and battlefields, to unexpected places like chain hotels and Cracker Barrel gift shops, I would notice certain sensations, and even see and hear things that seem to defy explanation. Whether these carry supernatural meaning or are just scary stories I tell myself, I can’t answer. At the very least, I’m drawn to learn more about the history of these dark and mundane places, so whatever the explanation behind these sensations, I remember the dead.

Black Aggie is a brooding, veiled statue that haunted Baltimoreans for decades. Legend had it that her eyes glowed a demonic red at midnight, and frat boys dared initiates to spend the night in her cold dead arms – with sometimes fatal results. Vandals and curiosity seekers flocked to the Agnus family plot in Baltimore’s Druid Ridge Cemetery – so many, in fact, that the cemetery removed the statue in 1968 gave the statue away in 1967.

Today, she’s hidden in Washington, and not in plain sight. To find her you have to walk down a passageway just off Laffayette Square, to a courtyard behind the Dolly Madison House. I went searching for her in what is now The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, among patio tables where courthouse workers enjoyed their lunch and the unseasonably cool summer weather. At the far end of the courtyard, isolated like the most unpopular kid in the lunchroom, is a dark, intimidating sculpture. I immediately felt the sensation of drowning and dread. Her eyes, even if the legend of midnight glowing is simply a legend – are empty and creepy.

Black Aggie has a sister in Rock Creek Church Cemetery – the Adams Monument, aka “Grief.” Both monuments are within walking distance of my house, and in between tales from far-reaching places, I’ll now and then tell you about my back yard.