"The White House is the oldest building on President's Park. An integral part of the planned city that is Washington, D.C., a design was chosen and construction begun in 1792, and the building (although unfinished) was opened for occupancy on November 1, 1800. The first people to occupy the building were President John Adams and his wife, Abigail. Parts of the mansion were unfinished, including the cavernous East Room. With no running water (it would not be installed until 1834), water had to be brought into the house by jug and heated for bathing or laundry to be done. Abigail Adams often hung the family's laundry up to dry in the drafty East Room. The ghost of Abigail Adams has been seen since shortly after her death in 1818, arms extended as if she were still carrying laundry into the East Room, accompanied by the smell of soap or damp clothing. Household staff in the Taft administration even observed her walking through walls.
But the White House's most famous alleged apparition is that of Abraham Lincoln. Eleanor Roosevelt never admitted to having seen Lincoln's ghost, but did say that she felt his presence repeatedly throughout the White House. Mrs. Roosevelt also said that the family dog, Fala, would sometimes bark for no reason at what she felt was Lincoln's ghost. President Dwight Eisenhower's press secretary, James Hagerty, and Liz Carpenter, press secretary to First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, both said they felt Lincoln's presence many times. The former president's footsteps are also said to be heard in the hall outside the Lincoln Bedroom. As reputable an eyewitness as Lillian Rogers Parks admitted in her autobiography My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House that she had heard them. Margaret Truman, daughter of President Harry S. Truman, said she heard a spectre rapping at the door of the Lincoln Bedroom when she stayed there, and believed it was Lincoln. President Truman himself was once wakened by raps at the door while spending a night in the Lincoln Bedroom. Others have actually seen an apparition of the former president. The first person reported to have actually seen Lincoln's spirit was First Lady Grace Coolidge, who said she saw the ghost of Lincoln standing at a window in the Yellow Oval Room staring out at the Potomac. Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, and Maureen Reagan and her husband have all claimed to have seen a spectral Lincoln in the White House. A number of staff members of the Roosevelt administration claimed to have seen Lincoln's spirit, and on one occasion Roosevelt's personal valet ran screaming from the White House claiming he had seen Lincoln's ghost. Perhaps the most famous incident was in 1942 when Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands heard footsteps outside her White House bedroom and answered a knock on the door, only to see Lincoln in frock coat and top hat standing in front of her (she promptly fainted). One of the most recent sightings came in the early 1980s, when Tony Savoy, White House operations foreman, came into the White House and saw Lincoln sitting in a chair at the top of some stairs. Several unnamed eyewitnesses have claimed to have seen the shade of Abraham Lincoln actually lying down on the bed in the Lincoln Bedroom (which was used as a meeting room at the time of his administration), and while others have seen Lincoln sit on the edge of the bed and put his boots on. The most famous eyewitness to the latter was Mary Eben, Eleanor Roosevelt's secretary, who saw Lincoln pulling on his boots (after which she ran screaming from the room).
Abraham Lincoln is not the only Lincoln ghost which witnesses claim to have seen in the White House. Willie Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's 11-year-old son, died in the White House of typhoid on February 20, 1862. Willie Lincoln's ghost was first seen in the White House by staff members of the Grant administration in the 1870s, but has appeared as recently as the 1960s (President Lyndon B. Johnson's college-age daughter, Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, saw the ghost and claims to have talked to him).
Other Presidents, as well as First Ladies, are also said to haunt the White House. Witnesses in the past two centuries have reported that Thomas Jefferson can be heard playing his violin in the Yellow Oval Room. President Andrew Jackson is said to be seen lying on what is thought to be his old bed in the Queens' Bedroom (also known as the Rose Room), and his guttural laugh has been heard in the White House since the beginning of the 1860s. First Lady press secretary Liz Carpenter heard the laugh and swore it was Jackson's, and Mary Todd Lincoln claimed to have heard the stomping and swearing of an invisible presence which she claimed was the uncouth Jackson. White House seamstress Lillian Rogers Parks said she was sewing in the Queen's Bedroom and felt a presence, cold air, and then a hand on the back of her chair. She quickly left the room, and for the rest of her time in the White House she refused to enter the Queens' Bedroom without at least one other person accompanying her. The spirit of William Henry Harrison, it is claimed, haunts the attic, and President John Tyler allegedly haunts the Blue Oval Room. First Lady Frances Folsom Cleveland, who was married to President Grover Cleveland in the White House's Blue Room in 1886, is widely claimed to haunt the room where she was married and was seen there after her death in 1947.