Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The random monthly pick: Mrs. John Tayloe and ghostly tales

Mrs. John Tayloe by Gilbert Stuart, Washington 1804
Ann Tayloe is probably most known nowadays for being the owner/resident of the famous house called “The Octagon” designed by Dr. W. Thornton (the first architect of the U.S. Capitol), which still exists today. The site of this home, 18th Street and New York Avenue, was only two blocks from the Potomac and its construction between 1799 and 1801 formalized a plan of streets, avenues, and parks in this still undeveloped, forested area of Washington. Ann’s husband, entrepreneur with political aspirations, had plenty of incentive to choose this undeveloped area to place their new home; it would be close to the center of power, just to the east the President's house was being built. The Tayloes were also quite patriotic and often entertained the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and James Madison. During the war of 1812, the White House was burned by the British, and the Tayloes offered use of their house to President Madison and his wife Dolley as a temporary "Executive Mansion".
Here the Tayloes raised a family of 15 children, eight of which were daughters famed for their beauty and wealth. The Tayloes sold the Octagon in 1855, after Mrs. Tayloe's death. Today, the American Architectural Foundation owns the Octagon House.

Rather piquant; The Octagon is associated with GHOST STORIES. During the War of 1812, one of the Tayloe daughters fell in love with a British officer, and her father, solidly diasapproving of the romance, forbade her from seeing him further. After an illicit meeting with her lover, she snuck back into the house, her father caught her on the stairway and a violent argument ensued and somehow the young woman lost her balance and plunged over the spiral staircase to her death.
There are reports of a flickering candle shadow moving up the stairs, screams and
a thump at the bottom of the stairs! There are reports of Dolley Madison's ghost seen roaming the house after her death, still wearing her elegant clothes and the feathered turban! During the Civil War the place was used as a hospital. People still hear the sobbing and moans of the dead.......................

Ann Ogle Tayloe III (Mrs. John Tayloe III, 1772-1855) and her daughters Rebecca Plater Tayloe (1797-c. 1800) and Henrietta Hill Tayloe (Mrs. Henry Greenfield Sotheron Key, 1794-1832) 1799
Maryland Historical Society; artist is unattributed

From Lawrence Park:
Mrs John Tayloe
She was Ann Ogle, daughter of Governor Benjamin and Henrietta (Hill) Ogle of Maryland. She married John Tayloe in 1792, and from 1801 to her death was prominent in Washington social life.
Colonel John Tayloe
He was a son of the Honorable John and Rebecca (Plater) Tayloe of "Mt. Airy," Richmond County, Virginia. Educated at Eton, where he had as schoolmates the Duke of Wellington and George Canning, he was graduated from Christ Church, Cambridge, in 1791, and returned to America to assume control of the largest estate in Virginia and an income of $60,000. a year. In 1792 he married Ann Ogle and established a household unrivaled in Virginia for splendor. He was an active member of the Federal party and a warm friend of Washington, of whom he owned a portrait by Stuart. Defeated in 1799 for Congress; in the following year he built Octagon House in Washington, in which he passed his winters the remainder of his life, and became prominent in Washington social life. He was president of the first United States branch bank in Washington; commanded in 1812 the cavalry of the District of Columbia; built Willard's Hotel in 1818, and dying at Octagon House, was buried with his ancestors at "Mt. Airy."


emikk said...

did the ghosts get evicted?

Einbildungskraft said...

I don't think so, at least not yet...I didn't even mention the second sister who apparently also met death in an altercation with her father;
"Also, sounds of horse drawn carriages coming up to the house are believed to be long deceased guests arriving for Dolley's parties. When the Madisons left, the Tayloes moved back in. Once again, a daughter fell in love with a forbidden mate and again Colonel Tayloe caught her
sneaking up the stairs late one evening. During the ensuing argument the girl's father shoved her in anger, and just like her sister she met death in a fall. It is this incident that people believe is responsible for the
cold spot at the base of the oval staircase. People also get a feeling that someone is lying on the floor on this spot. Also, the rug near this area is often found turned back by unseen hands."
shrieeeeeeeeeek!!!! boo!

Rouchswalwe said...

Oh my, how "shudder-up-and-down-your-spine" spooky this is ... I'm going to have to drink a pint of Stout to calm my nerves!! Forthwith!


Einbildungskraft said...

ein spukhaus!!

ja, bitte schnell, ein Brewchen zum die Nerven calmen!

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