Priceless scares: Save cash on ghost tours at free haunted hot spots

Media Credit: Ian Saville | Photographer

The Georgetown stairs featured in the 1973 thriller “The Exorcist” are designated as a historical D.C. landmark by the Historic Preservation Review Board.

If there’s one time of the year for a scare, it’s the month of October.

Halloween-time is jam-packed with ghost tours to ring in spooky season, but many of the guided tours in the District can be pricey – nearing $20 per person on some tours. Save some money this month by embarking on The Hatchet’s self-guided ghost tour to these haunted happenings.

The Octagon House

The Octagon House is known for housing Colonel John Tayloe, the richest Virginian plantation owner of his time. But the house is also considered one of the most haunted locations in D.C. because of the bone-chilling history that lurks behind its eight-angled architecture.

Tayloe constructed the house in 1801 and resided there with his two daughters. It is said that both the colonel’s daughters fell from the house’s grand staircase to their deaths after having quarrels with him about their preferred romantic partners. They are said to haunt the second- and third-floor landings, and visitors have reported hearing the girls’ shrills in the building.

It is also purported that spirits of former slaves haunt the house. There are reports of incidents in which the mysterious chime of servants’ bells have been rung.

1799 New York Ave. NW. Open Thursday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. Free.

Old Stone House

If you were not unnerved by the first location, you might be terrified by the next one. The Old Stone House, built in 1765, is notable for the haunts of more than 12 phantoms – but none of them are nearly as friendly as Casper.

The Georgetown structure is the oldest unaltered house in the D.C. area and matches up with reports of spirits wearing colonial-era garments. Other ghosts are described as being a lady in brown clothing, a German artisan and a child.

The most frightening specter is said to be a malevolent spirit called George. The ghoul reportedly skulks on the third floor of the building and has choked and pushed visitors. His malicious presence is usually marked by cold spots in the home and the visitors’ acute sense of fear.

3051 M St. NW. Open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free.

The Exorcist Steps

You may recall the fearsome 1973 film “The Exorcist” because of its instantly iconic scene in which a possessed girl’s head performs a full rotation. But the character’s fatal fall down a flight of stairs is also notable – and those same steps are located in Georgetown.

The steps are not reportedly haunted, but horror film fanatics often journey to the stairway, and athletes use the stairs to practice. Author Elizabeth Tucker said in a book that during the movie’s filming, Georgetown University students charged passersby $5 to witness a padded stuntman fall down 75 steps.

The location was eventually recognized as a historic landmark in the District by the Historic Preservation Review Board.

3600 Prospect St. NW. Open to the public 24/7. Free.

Ford’s Theatre

You may remember from history class that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, but you may have forgotten that Ford’s Theatre in Penn Quarter/Chinatown was the site of the presidential assassination.

While attending the play “Our American Cousin” at the theater, Lincoln was shot in the head by a Confederate sympathizer who snuck into his box, and he died the following morning. Centuries later, his presence is, creepily, as palpable as ever.

Following the harrowing incident, people claimed that the theater was cursed, and visitors have said they heard footsteps near Lincoln’s box, while others allege that they have seen Mary Todd Lincoln – Lincoln’s wife – in the seating area. Actors have also reported experiencing a “creepy” sensation while performing.

511 10th St. NW. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tickets to visit the historic site are $3.

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