The Hay-Adams Hotel

800 16th Street NW, Washington D.C.

Did You Know?

  • Former Site of the Hay-Adams Homes
  • Associated with a Socialite’s Suicide
  • Hotel Opened in 1928
  • Haunted by Clover Hooper Adams

The Haunted Hay-Adams Hotel

Locked doors unlock on their own; radios turn on and off again. Objects are moved by unseen hands. Visitors encounter mysterious orbs, full-bodied apparitions, and cold spots. Those sensitive to residual energies even claim to hear a woman’s low, mournful wails.

Who Was Clover Hooper Adams?

Our story begins in 1872, when American socialite Marian “Clover” Hooper married American novelist Henry Adams.

Cave Entrace
A self-portrait by Clover Adams, 1860s. Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

The couple moved to Washington D.C. five years later, where Adams and Clover took up with John and Clara Hay. Their circle was prestigious and enviable: Hay was the private secretary to Abraham Lincoln and Henry was the grandson of John Quincy Adams.

Alongside Clarence King, their ring became known as the “Five of Hearts.”

The vibrant “Five of Hearts” saw the likes of everyone from Teddy Roosevelt to Mark Twain. They were a brilliantly esteemed circle, known for their elegant events and world-class sophistication.

Clover was so vivacious that some believe she inspired Henry Adams’ Portrait of a Lady and Daisy Miller.

Death and the Darkroom

Legend has it that Clover fell into a dark depression after her father’s death, ultimately taking her own life. Whenever Henry found Clover’s lifeless body in their bedroom, Clover had ingested the chemical potassium cyanide.

Identified by its almond fragrance, this fatally toxic substance is used to develop film. Clover was a skilled photographer who had regularly used the chemical in her darkroom.

Yet, the local newspaper decided to avoid scandal, reporting instead that Clover had passed from heart paralysis. She died at the age of forty-two, never able to live in the home that she helped design.

The Ghost of Clover Adam

Before Clover’s suicide, the Adams and Hays decided to buy a home together. They even hired architect Henry Hobson Richardson to build an adjacent house on the same property.

Clover committed suicide before the building’s completion, so she was never able to live on the property. Nevertheless, her residual energies are attached to the Hay-Adams Hotel.

Cave Entrace
A self-portrait by Clover Adams, 1860s. Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

While witnesses sometimes spot Clover’s full-bodied apparition, her peculiar smell is the most common evidence of her presence. Hotel staff often report the faint scent of almonds, doubtlessly tied to her untimely death.

Clover is even known to disturb the hotels’ chandeliers. The concergiege reports accounts of the chandelier's mysterious swaying, leading paranormal enthusiasts to suspect Clover’s presence.

Who Was Clover Adams?

Born to an educated and wealthy Boston family, Clover Adams was raised amongst America’s brightest minds. After all, she was surrounded by New England authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Clover contributed to her artistic environment through her own writings as well as through her photography. While Henry discouraged Clover from pursuing her passions professionally, contemporary critics consider her a progessive and skilled photographer.

Her work can be seen at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston.

Grief and Widowship

After Clover’s death, Henry Adams burned his wife's letters. He was so grieved that he rarely spoke of his loss.

After her funeral, he once wrote, “during the last eighteen months I have not had the good luck to attend my own funeral, but with that exception, I have buried pretty nearly everything I lived for.”

Cave Entrace
Photo of Henry Adams by Marian Hooper Adams, c. 1883. Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

He commissioned Augustus Saint-Gaudens to construct a memorial for Clover that once sat above her grave. Today, the bronze cast rests on Washington D.C.’s Lafayette Square. Some say she haunts the memorial, where spectators spot her spirit lingering near her statue.

The Legacy of Clover Adams

In a letter to Clover’s husband, John Hay described Clover as a “bright, intrepid spirit.” Clover had made their home “such a one as Washington never knew before.” Hay even added that “hundreds of people love her as much as they admired her.”

The Creation of the Hay-Adams Hotel

In 1927, Harry Wardome bought both the Hay and Adams homes, though decided to tear them down. Wardome built the 145-room Hay-Adams hotel in their place.

The establishment opened in 1928, eventually welcoming guests like Charles Lindbergh, Sinclair Lewis, and Amelia Earheart. Today, this Italian Renaissance Hotel is epitomized by its motto: “Where nothing is overlooked except the White House.”

Visiting the Hay-Adams Hotel

If you’re looking for Clover Adams, her poltergeist is most active during December – the anniversary of her suicide. Let us know if you have a paranormal encounter!

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