Explore rich articles and behind-the-scenes features about the Presidential Site’s exhibits, events, outreach, announcements, and more.


The (White) House of Horrors: And Other Presidential Ghost Stories

October 15, 2018

This season, the Presidential Site hosts spirits of six presidents grappling with the same curse, a ghost who conspired to assassinate the 16th president, and the apparition of a first lady with some questions about her husband’s death.

Think you can add these political ghost stories to your plate, too?

Photograph of Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Among all of the White House haunts, Abraham Lincoln seems to be the most commonly seen apparition. He is said to appear in the Lincoln Bedroom and Yellow Oval Room. President Ronald Reagan said his dog would go into any room except the Lincoln Bedroom. Prominent figures from Prime Minister Winston Churchill to Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands claim to have seen Lincoln. Recordings tend to coincide with times of great upheaval, particularly during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. Like Lincoln, Roosevelt was a president who headed the country during a time of war.

Photograph of Annie Surratt

Annie Surratt

Mary Surratt, portrayed in The (White) House of Horrors by Candlelight Theatre Creative Director Donna Wing, was convicted of playing a role in Lincoln’s assassination. She was later hanged inside Fort McNair on July 7, 1865. Residents and visitors of the White House have sworn to have heard the ghost of Annie Surratt, Mary’s daughter, banging on the front door, begging for the release of her mother.

Photograph of William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison, President Benjamin Harrison’s grandfather, was the first president to die in the White House. He developed pneumonia and passed away within a month. A few years after his death, White House residents began reporting noises in the third-floor attic and later claimed to have seen his ghost. Some attribute his death to Curse of Tippecanoe, placed on Harrison after the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. Stories relay this curse has caused deaths of presidents elected in years divisible by 20, starting with Harrison and most recently “ending” with John F. Kennedy.

Painting of Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln claimed she would hear Andrew Jackson stomping and swearing in halls of the White House. Harry Truman also wrote of Jackson’s ghost in the presidential home. In June 1945, he recorded, “I sit here in this old house and work on foreign affairs, read reports, and work on speeches — all the while listening to the ghosts walk up and down the hallway and even right in here in the study. The floors pop and the drapes move back and forth — I can just imagine old Andy [Jackson] and Teddy [Roosevelt] having an argument over Franklin [Roosevelt].” To this day, many believe the Rose Room, Jackson’s old bedroom, is one of the most haunted rooms in the White House.

Painting of Aaron Burr

Aaron Burr

For this last ghost tale, we’re going to take a few steps out of the White House. New York is home to the ghosts of several early politicians. Perhaps the most famous is Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson’s vice president and the man who killed Alexander Hamilton in 1804. People say Burr roams the streets of the West Village, his old neighborhood, and frequents One if By Land, Two if By Sea. The restaurant is located in a building that was once Burr’s carriage house.

Learn about other ghost stories — such as those of Mary Surratt, Judge Joseph Holt and Mary Todd Lincoln — by checking out The (White) House of Horrors from now until October 28. Visit our Eventbrite page for times and ticket info.

This is part of our (White) House of Horrors blog series. Check back in next week for our post.

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The (White) House of Horrors: Who is Candlelight Theatre?

October 11, 2018

Candlelight Theatre, formerly known at Victorian Theatre by Candlelight, produces four plays in partnership with the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site every year. This season begins on October 12, the opening night of The (White) House of Horrors.

The (White) House of Horrors, initially titled Ghost Tales of D.C., is the theatre’s original fall production. The company has since added different types of ghost story plays, like Hoosier Haunts and Spirits of Blue and Gray. Now, there are six total and each play is presented every six years.

The last time Candlelight Theatre performed a version of The (White) House of Horrors was in 2012.

Donna Wing, creative director of Candlelight Theatre, recalls one of her most memorable experiences of the show.

“A group of middle schoolers had attended the play to celebrate a birthday party,” she said. “They were quite engaged and tremendously haunted. At the end of the play one of the parents approached me and said, ‘Thank you for giving the children a delightful time while teaching them U.S. history without their knowing it!’ I have received this type of feedback many times.”

The autumn productions are works of resident playwright James Trofatter. He has directed, written and acted in the Ghost Tales series since 2006.

“Candlelight Theatre is unlike any other theatre in the country,” Wing said. “Guests are immersed in the theatre experience; they are in the action. [The (White) House of Horrors] is entertaining, creepy, engaging, and historical. And the venue is unlike any other.”

This year, The (White) House of Horrors will show weekends from October 12 – 28. Shows begin every half hour from 6 – 8:30 p.m. besides October 28. On that day, shows start at 2 p.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. For a full list of dates and times, visit our Eventbrite page.

This is the first installment in our (White) House of Horrors blog series. Check back in next week for our post highlighting YOUR scary stories. Send us your spooky tales by emailing

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6 Reasons You Should Check Out Croquet Roquet

September 27, 2018

Our annual Croquet Roquet is a week away, but it’s not too late to register! Need a little more convincing? We have six reasons why you should check out Croquet Roquet on Oct. 4.

Photograph of people playing croquet on the lawn of the Presidential Site.

1. We have a two-round croquet tournament

As the name of the event implies, there will in fact be croquet. The tournament is for spectators and players alike. Don’t know how to play? Don’t sweat it. Partake in lessons at the beginning of the event, or stick close to our pros who can help you out during the tournament.


Photograph of Garden Party Botanical Hard Soda cans.

2. We have complimentary Sun King beer, Garden Party Hard Soda and HotBox pizza

Do we really need to say any more?


Photograph of people dressed in croquet white clothes.

3. It’s an excuse to dress up

So, there’s no rule that you have to dress up. But why not? Don your best white shoes and a Polo or dress, and you’ll have the chance to win a prize for best dressed!


Photograph of people dancing on the lawn of the Presidential Site.

4. It’s a different kind of date idea

Among all of the fall date ideas, this might be the most unique. Croquet stands out from the apple orchards and pumpkin carving rendezvous. Show off your compatibility by participating as a team in the two-round tournament. If leisure is more your speed, take your date on a stroll down the Presidential Site’s south lawn, beer in hand—errr, we mean, hand in hand.


Photograph of friends having a good time at the Presidential Site.

5. It’s super affordable

It also might be one of the cheaper fall date ideas. For just $10, a team of two people can play two rounds of croquet and receive complimentary drinks and food. If you are more interested in watching, $5 will get one person in and includes food and drinks as well.


Photograph of 3 friends at the Presidential Site.

6. You can win prizes and snag some pretty great deals

The team with most points in the tournament will win registration to Wicket World of Croquet 2019. If you simply secure your team’s spot WWoC, we will apply your Croquet Roquet entrance fee to that ticket!


Get your tickets now, and don’t miss out on this year’s Croquet Roquet event. We hope to see you on Thursday, Oct.4!

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Q&A with Indy Do Day Co-Chair Jenny Dexter

September 24, 2018

From September 27 to 29, Indianapolis residents will have the opportunity to participate in the annual Indy Do Day.

This year, about 30,000 Indianapolis residents can get to know their neighbors and volunteer throughout the city — and it’s not too late to sign up for the fun.

Photograph of volunteers at the Presidential Site for Indy Do Day.

Jenny Dexter, Indy Do Day co-chair and director of business development at Matchbook Creative, volunteered with the Presidential Site last year. She and her team will continue that tradition this year as we take on the Great Talbott Street Clean-Up

We spoke with Jenny last week to ask about her experience with the project.



Q: What inspired you to take on the Indy Do Day co-chair position?

A: The opportunity to work closely with so many organizations, businesses and schools to call Indianapolis the most civically engaged community in the nation.


Q: Last year you volunteered with the Presidential Site. Can you describe what that experience was like?

A: I really appreciated that your team put together opportunities to work 1-2 hours and 3-4 hours depending upon each volunteer’s time constraints. That was helpful to me as I moved around to visit many of the Indy Do Day projects that day. The Presidential Site’s project was well organized and fun. It was set up so that my team and I could work well together. Your staff was welcoming and helpful. The post-event communication was great. My team had such a great experience that we’re back again this year.


Q: What do you hope to see this year?

A: The Presidential Site is surrounded by small businesses, apartments, single-family homes and non-profit organizations. I’d love to see representatives from each one of those segments participating in your project.


Q: How would you describe Indy Do Day in three words?

A: Macro civic engagement


Q: Why would you encourage people to participate in Indy Do Day?

A: There is a direct correlation between philanthropy and being happy. Giving back immediately positively affects our community, our relationships with others and ourselves. The impact of accomplishing these things with over 30,000 other volunteers during the course of Indy Do Day’s three days of service cannot be denied. I would encourage everyone to go out and be happy with 30,000 of your closest friends!


Register now to help with the Great Talbott Street Clean-Up. We hope to make the street a safe, and welcoming space for the neighbors and more than 19,000 kids who will visit the Presidential Site this year.

Be sure to share your Indy Do Day experiences on social media using the hashtags #indydoday, #idd2018, and #letsdothis.

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“Let those who would die for the flag on the field of battle give a better proof of their patriotism and a higher glory to their country by promoting fraternity and justice.” Benjamin Harrison

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