Four stories to keep you up at night this October...
The Spirits at Overlee
Have you met the ghost of Margaret Febrey?
Febrey-Kincheloe House, from Poolside, 1997
In 2012 construction workers at the Overlee Community Center pool site reported that they were not alone - they would often see a little girl in Victorian clothing climbing through the debris and walking the site.
The construction site was on the grounds of a former historic mansion, known most recently as the Febrey-Kincheloe House, which stood for more than a century. Ernest Febrey constructed the grand home in the 1890s, where he raised his daughter, Margaret.
The Kincheloe family eventually bought the house from the Febrey family. When Mr. Kincheloe suddenly died, Mrs. Kincheloe converted the house into a rest home for Washington dignitaries called the Crestwood Sanitarium in 1947. In 1957 the house was converted into a community center clubhouse, and a pool was installed for the neighbors to enjoy. For many years clubhouse caretakers reported hearing music and laughing late into the night, but when they would investigate the noises, the sounds immediately ceased. The caretakers attributed the unseen source of the noises to the home's time as a sanitarium.
Young Margaret died in January of 1913 of a tubercular infection of the spine called Pott’s disease, and rumors are that the Febrey family abandoned the home soon after she passed away. But unlike the unseen clubhouse spirits, Margaret is not shy. Not only has she been seen around the property often, many people have reported speaking to her. Before the sale of the Febrey-Kincheloe House, contractors and realtors spoke of seeing a strangely dressed girl in the house standing by the basement stairs, and demolition workers spoke to her when they were razing the house in 2012. She’s been seen poolside and swimmers have reported speaking to a girl in a grey Victorian dress.
Children, if you meet Margaret at the pool, don’t be afraid. It’s said she likes to make friends with the children she meets.
Old Post Chapel
Fort Myer, now Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, has always had a storied history...
Old Post Chapel and New Gate at the Arlington National Cemetery
In 1864 the United States government began converting what had been the Lee Family’s estate into a burial ground for Union Army dead, housing for freed slaves and land for various military purposes. In 1861 Fort Ramsey, later renamed Fort Cass, was built on part of the land. However, after the end of the Civil War, it was abandoned.
In 1862 the Army built Fort Whipple a short distance southeast of Fort Cass. Its fortifications likewise were abandoned after the war ended, but its grounds were converted into the Signal School of Instruction for Army and Navy Officers in 1869. In 1881 it was renamed Fort Myer after Brigadier General Albert J. Myer, who had led the Signal School until his death in 1880.
In 1908 Fort Myer was the site of the first aviation fatality during one of Orville Wright’s first exhibition flights. And it was the location of the “Three Sisters” radio towers, which were the first to broadcast a voice across the United States and eventually over the Atlantic.
The Old Post Chapel, the only chapel on the grounds of the former Fort Whipple, holds the most claims of paranormal presences.
The Old Post Chapel was commissioned by Major George Patton Jr. in 1933 when he toured the chapels on the grounds of the Walter Reed Hospital. Patton told Post Commander Colonel Kenyon Joyce that the new chapel should combine the functions of a principal chapel with those of a mortuary chapel in one building.
Workers broke ground in February 1934, and the chapel was officially dedicated on April 21, 1935, where it was known for its attractive spire and intricate stained-glass windows. The chapel serves as a place of worship for the community, a wedding chapel, and a place of final honors for those laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Many fallen service members have lain in wait in the Old Post Chapel for their final trip, and it has allowed family members to grieve in private.
So it is unsurprising that many active duty service members have reported hearing disembodied voices and footsteps in the chapel when they have been alone.
Locked doors have unlocked themselves and opened on their own. K9 units patrolling with service people will refuse to go into the building, and balk at the door, especially at night. And visitors describe a young grief-stricken woman dressed in white who waits for her sweetheart; rumors are that she threw herself from the bell tower, which remains locked to this day.
Wakefield High School
Phantom of the Theater
Wakefield High School in 1996
Who knows where the Wakefield High School ghost has chosen to perform since the school theater it used to haunt was demolished in 2013...
Students and staff said that if you sat very quietly in the balcony seats of the theater, you might see and hear things you could not explain. The piano would begin to play even though no one was sitting at the keyboard. The lights would operate even though no one was in the lighting booth. And the light fixtures themselves would turn to impossible angles, sometimes coming to rest on the person in the balcony or the lone audience member.
Who was the ghost? Rumors say a crew member fell from the catwalk and died in the early 1960s, and was sometimes seen high up on the catwalk, once again reliving his last moments.
Who was that woman?
Arlington Hall Girls off for Sight-Seeing Trip - Washington, D.C.
The stately building near the intersection of Arlington Boulevard and South George Mason Drive may no longer be home to military codebreakers, but it's still a place of mystery.
In 1927 Dr. William Martin founded the Arlington Hall Junior College for Women. The rolling 100-acre campus included an award-winning riding club, and the stately Arlington Hall itself was home to many enviable social events including dinners, teas, balls, and formal dances.
In 1942 the Arlington Hall Junior College for Women quietly became the secret headquarters for the Signal Intelligence Service, a department dedicated to breaking German and Russian codes. Unbeknownst to the men and women working to end the war, the KGB had already infiltrated the center, spying via a long-time analyst who had defected to the U.S.S.R. After the Signal Intelligence Service expanded and transferred its headquarters, the building began its third life as a research center, and then as a satellite office for the State Department in 1989.
The building still holds its secrets - not only the unexploded Civil War-era rifle shell found sitting precariously under the hall during an excavation in 2008, but the unexplained noises that occupants hear in the quietest hours.
It is said that if you are downstairs when it is silent, and you know you are alone, you will hear footsteps above you, walking across the hard floor and then stepping onto the carpet and continuing their journey. If you go upstairs to investigate, you’ll see a young woman in a floral dress walking into and out of the women’s powder room on the way to a party. She stops to check her make-up in the mirror before she turns and vanishes...
"Preservation Today: Rediscovering Arlington" is a partnership between the Arlington Public Library and the Arlington County Historic Preservation Program.
Preservation Today: Rediscovering Arlington
Stories from Arlington’s Historic Preservation Program
Arlington’s heritage is a diverse fabric, where people, places, and moments are knitted together into the physical and social landscape of the County.
Arlington County’s Historic Preservation Program is dedicated to protecting this heritage and inspiring placemaking by uncovering and recognizing all these elements in Arlington’s history.
To learn more about historic sites in Arlington, visit the Arlington County Historic Preservation Program.