Montgomery County Mysteries–Maryland

When I put together my spectral tour of US 29, I realized that a number of locales along the route haven’t been covered in this blog with Montgomery County, Maryland being one of those. Located just outside of the District of Columbia, Montgomery County has become a major Washington suburb in recent decades. It is also home to a number of fascinating hauntings.

Bethesda

Old Georgetown Road

A 2003 article discussing Maryland paranormal investigator Beverly Litsinger has a brief list of haunted places throughout the state including this road in Montgomery County. The article notes that people have had “disturbing sightings of a ghostly being” along this road. It goes on to say that several Civil War-era homes along the road are also haunted. No further information is available.

Sources

  • Brick, Krista. “Ghost-tracker has plenty of weird tales.” Frederick News-Post. 27 October 2003.

Glen Echo

Carousel at Glen Echo Park
7300 Macarthur Boulevard

The Glen Echo Park Carousel sports a menagerie of animals, including 39 horses, four ostriches, four rabbits, and a deer, tiger, giraffe, lion, and perhaps several spirits flitting amongst them.

Glen Echo Carousel, Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo, Maryland
The carousel in 2018, by Skdb. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Glen Echo Park opened as an amusement park in 1911 following a couple of decades as a National Chatauqua Assembly. The grounds were outfitted with dozens of rides as the premier park for family fun in the Washington, D. C. area. In 1921, park owners contracted the carousel building firm of Gustav and William Dentzel of Philadelphia to install this carousel for the delight of park patrons. For years, the animals and their accompanying Wurlitzer organ gave rides to guests until the park closed in 1968. After the park was acquired by the National Park Service in 1971, the carousel was restored and continues to delight riders to this day.

Karen Yaffe Lottes and Dorothy Pugh include in their 2012 book, In Search of Maryland Ghosts: Montgomery County, the experiences of a gentleman who spoke of seeing spirits at the carousel as an adolescent. In the 1960s, while this gentleman was around the age of thirteen, he began sneaking out of the house late at night and his excursions often took him to Glen Echo Park. On a couple occasions he heard the sound of the carousel’s organ playing and saw shadowy forms within the carousel’s round house. As he peeked through the windows, he saw a large group of people inside riding and standing around the ride. Oddly, this group was comprised of African-Americans and they were dressed in clothing reminiscent of the 1930s or 40s. On both occasions, the young man was frightened by this vision and fled the scene. This story is odd in that the park was not open to patrons of color until the late 1960s, just before it closed.

Sources

Clara Barton National Historic Site
5801 Oxford Road

Groundbreaking nurse, Clara Barton, spent the final fifteen years of her life residing in this odd building in Montgomery County. The wooden portion of the building had been prefabricated in the Midwest for use at disaster sites. In the case of this structure, it had been put together after the devastating flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1889 where the building served as the Locust Street Red Cross Hotel. After its emergency use came to an end, it was dismantled and shipped to Washington, D. C. with the expectation that it would be used for the next emergency. In 1891, it was erected in Glen Echo with some modifications and additions for use as the headquarters of Barton’s fledgling Red Cross.

Clara Barton House, Glen Echo, Maryland
The Clara Barton House, 2006, by Preservation Maryland. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, Barton’s dream of a fine headquarters was thwarted for several years by the lack of transportation and communications infrastructure but in 1897, the building finally became the national headquarters. Ever modest in her own personal needs, Barton took a bedroom at the back of the building. It is here that she spent the final years of her life of service to others.

Now, a National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service, visitors and, I suspect some staff (despite the Park Service’s official line that none of its sites are haunted), have encountered a woman in a green period dress, who may be the apparition of the famed Clara Barton, still going about her duties from the other side.

Sources

Olney

Olney Theatre Center
2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road

It seems that the spirits of the Olney Theatre Center don’t haunt the theatre itself, but rather one of the buildings where theatre staff and artists reside during performance seasons.

The company was initially created as a summer stock on a rural estate with Ethel Barrymore as its first associate director. Over the years it has attracted many of the leading lights of American stage and film, including Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Tallulah Bankhead, and the inimitable Helen Hayes, the First Lady of the American Stage.

An 1889 family home on the property, named Knollton, has served as cast housing since the founding of the company. Cast and staff who have lived in the old house have reported a variety of paranormal activities including apparitions and spectral sounds.

Sources

  • Lottes, Karen Yaffe and Dorothy Pugh. In Search of Maryland Ghosts: Montgomery County. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2012.
  • Olney Theatre Center. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 29 January 2022.

Rockville

Beall-Dawson House
103 West Montgomery Avenue

As the county’s Clerk of Court, Upton Beall wanted the prominence of his position reflected in his family home. He had this elegance home built in 1815 in this small crossroads village. Beall’s prominence even brought a visit from Lafayette during his 1824 grand tour of Maryland. The house remained in the Beall family until the 1930s when it was sold away from the family. It was later acquired by the county historical society who have used it as a museum for many decades.

Beall-Dawson House, Rockville, Maryland
The Beall-Dawson House, 2020, by Dbenford. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

As with many house museums, this house possesses its fair shares of creaks, groans, and disembodied footsteps, typical occurrences in many old houses. Some years ago, a docent working in the kitchen saw the apparition of a black man in old-fashioned clothing kneeling on the floor of the carriage entrance room laying bricks. The brick floor was laid in a herringbone pattern, with the bricks set in sand. This same apparition has been seen by a handful of people over the years. Has this man returned to worry about his carefully crafted floor?

Sources

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