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The times dispatch. (Richmond, Va.) 1903-1914, June 22, 1913, Image 12

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038615/1913-06-22/ed-1/seq-12/

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Copyright. 1PIJ. fcy the
f JpookiT
Will Washington s
Commercial Club Break
the Chain of Horrors
Which Makes Its A[ew
Home a Place of Dread
===or Will It JIdd Hew
and Weirder Links?
THE most Implacable of spooks,
?with a terror-Inspiring record
covering a century nnd a quar
ter?almost the "whole existonce of
the National Capital at Washington
??has been boldly challenged by the
Commercial Club of that city. They
have bought the land which reeks
of murder, suicide, deaths by fire
end wysterious infection and the un
canniest ghostly visitations that have
ever figured in ghostly history, and
are spending $120,000 to convert
this awesome spot into a cheerful
centre of Washington club life.
Although three separate buildings
have successively taken the place of
the lonely cottage where, In 1792,
the record of horror began, ? the
ghosts have remained with the land.
They rendered uninhabitable even
the present handsome mansion
?which Baron Rosen occupied witli
his family during his period of ser
vice as Russian Ambassador. The
wife of Bakhinetieff, the Baron's suc
cessor. a Washington girl, familiar
with its history, would have none of
Jt. It has remained vacant and
avoided?for the daring members
of the Commercial Club to recon
struct and occupy, while the older
generations of Washington society
await with shivery confidence the
resumption of the spook's blood
curdling activities.
This persistently haunted spot,
latterly known as the Tyler house,
is on th?* south side of Farragut
square, almost in the centre of that
fashionable residence district. On
the same spot stood the mansion oc
cupied by Secretary of the Navy
Benjamin F. Tracy and his family
during the Harrison Administration.
The'- Tracy servants were fright
ened on'l of tin ;r wits by the ancient
spoil's ma', cmus artiviti. Th"
climax of horror came with a con
flagration in which Mrs. Tracy and
her daughter Jos',, their lives. But
th"-se ghosts, which had remained
with the land?al thong \ the cottage
of their still sto nl, moved out
tn the junction of the Bright wood
road with .Ior.nt Pleasant proved
themselves tin jiroof.
To Ik- r'-adilv intelligible, the
story bogjus wiih thr- building of
that fatal cottage back in 1702?^co
incident with the earliest work upon
what, during a century un<i more,
has developed Into the flneBt legis
lative structure In the world. The
builder of tho cottage was a young
English stonemason employed on the
Capitol foundations. He built it
with his own hands to be a loving
welcome to the blue-eyed, golden
hatred woman whom he had sum
moned to join him in his now pros
perous state fpom across the sea.
The beautiful, golden-haired bride
came, and was enchanted with the
home prepared for her. When he
left home in the morning with his
heavy stone-chipping hammer aijd
his kit of tools, she walked with
him among tho roses to tho gate
and kissed him goodbye. She was
there to meet him on his return at
night?often with her great masse*
Ex-Secretary of
the Navy Tracy,
Whose Wife and
Daughter Were
Burned to Death
in the Hoodoo
Washington Comm ercial Club's New Home, Situated on a Spot Which Reeks with
Tragedy, and Has for Years Been Haunted by the Uncanniest Ghostly Visitors.
of sunlit hair floating about her
graceful form. Those of his fellow
?workmen who were permitted to
visit at tho cottage did not wonder
at the husband's adoration.
But they did not realize that the
demon of unreasoning jealously was
harrowing him into insanity, that he
was conjuring up all sorts of in
juries to himself during tho long
hours when his treasure was alone
in the cottage. Cunningly he con
cealed his Jealous madness from her.
No suspicion nssalled her when he
returned one afternoon earlier than
usual with the tale that the night
watchman at the Capitol was ill and
he mu6t serve in his stead.
Having finished his supper, the
stonecutter kissed his wife, took up
his kit of tools and was off.
? Until some time nfter dark he re
mained away, then, with swift and
silent footsteps, he returned to find
the cottage dark with closely shut
?blinds. Hut from between them
streamed out from the sitting room
a narrow bright ray. On the instant,
with every magnified Jealous fear
augmented he rushed noiselessly up
the steps, on to the sldo porch and,
giving the Venetian shutters a quick
turn he gazed full into the brightly
lighted room. What he saw Heaven
only knows?or If, indeed, Ho ac
tually saw anything at all more
cfulpablo "than his wife entertaining
some caller. Whatever it may have
been, real or fancied, the sight
turned him frantic. He snapped the
shutter asunder, raised the sash and
valuted into the room.
One glanco at her husband's face
revealed to tho poor young wife that
murder had possession of his heart,
and that naught but flight might
save her. With the fleetness of the
I hunted deer she sped up tho steps
toward the second story where, at
tlje head ol the stai/way, was a cot
tage -window open
ing outward. Closely
fastened for the night,
fhc could not open It be
fore the madman, rushing
close upon her heels, caught
nnd held her relentlessly. With
li s stonecutters heavy hammer
ho literally crushed out her life
J xils done, seizing her by the long
f^r-? ^ K,r h? had BO ad?red. he
dragged her down tho steps and out
of the front door, down ..hrougS Z
roto garden, over the muddy road
and into the thlcke&t of the belt of
woodland, which later was to form
the delightful old garden of Corcoran
house, on which now look o,u the
windows of the former Armv and
BDuZmentb> ^ the Rochambeau
apalament house.
knThe" *1? wander'* away, no one
knows where, to be gone for several
years, until lured back by some aw
ul Instinct to the scene af his love
and happiness?and frantic crime
h0.?,. Holne aa-VH tho mur
der discovered; not until friends go
,nB *? rnll found the houie onon
and deserted, with a trail of blJod
hold" ?!!h H?talrs' acroBS the t,irp?
nold, and here und there still in
way" to th?6 P??!,s, a,on? th" r?"d"
ua> to the woodland where tho
lalei131^ b??y WaS f0,ln(i- Whe".
later, the stonecutter was Liken
IT ZVV "" &*?"
?v<L> vith horrible frankness gave
e%er> revolting detail of the wan
marl!yUhange'd.r h" "as su?"
For years the cottage with ita
rose garden and the Nubian blacka
moor standing guard at the cate
stood idle?a haunted house, shunned
by all in daylight as in darkness
?hLen?i8o ?ne sunsh|ny morning
place was opened up as if by
magic and workmen comnletelv
removed the disorder into which
through the years of abandonment
and neglect. It had fallen. It was
a quiet neighborhood with few
curious ones to make Inquirv even
then-a retired spot selected for
thlB very reason by the wild younc
Xr ? * , W6althy Congressman
wherein to luxuriously establish the
beautiful young woman with whom
he elected to set up his household
gods without benefit of clergy.
A fast life tho young counfe led?
th Z drlnk and c:trd Playing jn
which the gayest of the gilded youth
about town uproarioualy took'nan
A fast life it continued until the
merry pace came to a sudden stand
still as the young fellow, in order
to pay a so-called debt of honor
forged for a largo amount the name'
of his father's dearest friend. The
friend sought him out and con
fronted him at the club with his
The distraught youngster rushed
to the cottage and .told his story
wildly accusing his companion of
being the cause of his ruin. Then
he blew out his brains and fell
a corpse at her
It was In Winter,
nrul snow lay deep
over the roadways
of the city.
As the servants
rushed with blanched
fares into tho room
they saw their mis
' t ress in a dinner
gown,'with thin slip
pers, standing mo
tionless, gaznlg at
her lover's corpse.
A moment later,
brushing past the
agitated onlookers,
rending the air with
her shrieks, nhe
rushed Into the
night. For days she
was a wanderer, with
reason completely
gone. N/hen finally
she was discovered,
lying exhausted on
the frozen ground,
r ' /
ohe lived hut a few hours and died
without uttering a word.
Many yearB wont by, yearB in
which the charming honeymoon cot
tage stood deserted and shunned.
Then nni> line day the property was
purchased by an army officer. Colo
nel Baron, who, having married a
Miss Stoughton, of Washington, was
fully aware of what ho was doing.
With the true military spirit of hit
ting at the root of things, Colonel
Bacon announced that the cottage
was for Hale at a ridiculously low
figure, and a purchaser having been
found who undertook to put It on
wheels and move it far away to the I
Junction of the Brightwood road with I
Mt. I'leasant, where it now stands I
Again Washington society stood
agapo, propounding the query,
whether the curse went with the
house or remained with the land.
Colonel Bacon and his wife, build
ing themselves a handsome house on
the haunted site spent ? number of
happy years, until, being ordered
away just as the Harrison adminis- "
tration began, the moment was au
spicious for leasing the house to
Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F.
With the awful tragedy of the
Tracy fire, which resulted in the
burning of the Secretary's wife and
daughter, and of the latter's maid,
the whole world Is acquainted. Every
monarch in Europe gave sympathetic
recognizance in telegrams which lit
erally showered upon the stricken
head of the United States Navy.
That was the last sacrifice of nu
man life upon that fateful spot.
When later the Augustus Cleveland ]
Tylers bought the property, and. i
tearing down every trace of the fire
scarred house, built the splendid
mansion which the Commercial Club
has just purchased for Its future
home, every one regarded them as
brave indeed, and looked for some
thing tragic to mark their occu
No sooner were the premises in or.
der and the family arrived than th<
place was ordered under quarantine
by the Health authorities, as one of
the maids had contracted scarlet
fever. As she was a faithful crea
ture, Mrs. Tyler would not hear tc
her being taken to a hospital, but in
stalled her in tlie tipper story. This
ended the Tylers' hopes as entertain
ers. No one cared to visit the f
"haunted house."
The Tylers began to bo bored to
death. After a couple of seasons .
they moved away "for good and all." ,
This evacuation was followed by a f
series of occupancies by wealthy j
peopio, all more or less known. The ;
Seth Barton Frenches established \
themselves there immediately after j
their marriage, and Mrs. French, f
fresh from a long residence with ! \
her parents In Greece, gave some \
delightful Illustrated lectures In the
grand salnn, which, overlooking Far- Al
ragut I'ark. will undoubtedly bo the
rs. Seth Barton French, Who Escaped the "Hoo
doo" by Hurriedly Leaving the Haunted House.
favorite lounging room of the Com
mercial Club. Hut the ghosts so a<>.
moralized their servants that they
had to give up the haunted residence.
When the Hakhmetieffs were ap
pointed to succced the Rosens it war
generally supposed that as the Ru
sian Embassy is still unfinished that
they would lease and occupy the Tv.
ler house on Karragut Square. Hut :'.o.
Mine. DakhmetielT, being a former
Washington woman, and having
spent all her girlhood in the old De
catur house on Lafayette Squ&r*
within a stone's throw of the Tyler
house, would have none of It. Ha 1
not the nerves of Baron Rosen's
daughter been wrecked there?
The membership of the Commer
cial Club Is over live hundred
Will habitation of the ghost v
premises by such numbers, wi'i
the gayety of modern club life ban
ish the wraiths of the murderci.
stone cutter and his beautiful wife
Washington is awaiting with inter
est the answer to that question.

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