The Hay-Adams Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Posted on November 9, 2019

Once again, the nation’s capital is filled with intrigue and ghosts. As one of the country’s oldest cities and a whole host of drama and historical figures, it is no wonder that so many ghosts and spirits haunt the nation’s capital.

History of the Hay-Adams Hotel

The hotel is located on the site where the 1885 homes of John Hay and Henry Adams once stood. This location is at 16th and H Streets NW. In 1927, Washington developer Harry Wardman purchased the property, razed the homes, and built a 138-room residential hotel. The hotel was designed by architect Mihran Mesrobian in the Italian Renaissance style. The hotel opened in 1928 and was named The Hay-Adams House. Unfortunately, Wardman’s fortunes declined with the Great Depression and he was forced to relinquish most of his hotel and apartment building empire in August 1930; the only exception was The Hay–Adams House. By 1932, Wardman had defaulted on the hotel’s loans, and it was sold at a public auction to the Washington Loan and Trust Company.

Hotel magnate Julius Manger purchased the property in 1932 and promptly renamed it the Manger Hay-Adams Hotel. He converted it to a transient hotel by remodeling the guest rooms adding central air-conditioning. Manger owned 18 hotels in New York City, the Hotel Plaza in Chicago, and the Manger Hotel at North Station in Boston. During the Depression Manger sought to increase his holdings in Washington, D.C., which he felt was a safe investment. He also purchased the Annapolis and Hamilton hotels in Washington. Manger himself lived at the Hay-Adams until his death in March 1937. At the time of his death, Manger was the largest independent hotel operator in the United States.

The Manger family later on sold the hotel to Washington developer Sheldon Magazine in 1973, and it was renamed The Hay-Adams. Magazine then sold the hotel to businessman Jeffrey I. Friedman and French hotelier Georges F. Mosse in 1979 for approximately $15 million. Friedman and Mosse next sold the hotel to Los Angeles businessman David Murdock in 1983 for $30 million. Murdock sold the hotel a few years later to the founders of Sanyo in 1989 for $54 million. The Iue family sold the hotel to the B.F. Saul Company, a Washington real estate company, in 2006, for $100 million.

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More background information

Both John Hay and Henry Adams were pillars in the Washington, D.C. community. Hay was known for being the private secretary to Abraham Lincoln and then he later served as the US Ambassador to the UK and Secretary of State under two US Presidents. Henry Adams was the grandson of John Quincy Adams and a notable writer and connoisseur of the arts. The two men were intellectuals and part of the Washington DC cultural scene. They hosted grand parties at their houses that attracted artists and other notable figures, particularly in the literary field including Mark Twain, Henry James and Edith Warton.

Both men were writers. In fact, Hay and Adams were both so prominent in the social scene of the day, that the corner they lived on became forever associated with their names, even after their deaths when their houses stood vacant and falling into disrepair.

How is it haunted?

A woman by the name of Clover Adams is said to be the resident ghost of the Hay-Adams Hotel. Clover is the nickname of Marion Hooper Adams who was once a hotel guest. Clover was married to Henry Adams. Clover Adams was an artist who worked in photography. It is said that she took her own life by ingesting one of the chemicals used for developing photographs. However, there are other people who say that she was murdered. No one knows for sure exactly how she died. Many people do feel that Clover suffered from depression and her own father died shortly before she committed suicide.

After Clover’s death, her husband, Henry Adams, destroyed all of her things, including her photographs and papers. It is believed by many that Henry had a mistress, and maybe this contributed to Clover’s depression. Henry and Clover are buried together under a monument called “Grief”.

Guests and employees of the Hay-Adams Hotel report that Clover is most active during the first two weeks of December, which is also the anniversary of her death. Staff have reported doors mysteriously opening and closing on their own, radios turning on and off, a woman crying softly and disembodied voices. Some housekeepers have also experienced being hugged by an unseen presence.

In addition, the staff of the hotel say that Clover is most often found on the fourth floor. She has been known to ask “what do you want” and call housekeepers by name. People report the smell of almonds when the spirit of Clover is near. Interestingly, Henry Adams found his dead wife in front of the fireplace in their bedroom. She is supposed to have swallowed potassium cyanide, which does smell like almonds.

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Other Information

Visiting Washington DC is a great experience that everyone should do at least once, although to see everything you need a lot of time. There are dozens of museums and buildings to visit. These places are fascinating because they tell the story of American history. In fact, everyone should visit Washington DC. Today, DC is a busy city. It is home to the arts and entertainment, great shops and restaurants and many colleges.

In addition, Washington, D.C. has a lively and thriving arts community. You can take in and enjoy everything from the ballet, to jazz, to orchestra concerts in the D.C. area. You will not be disappointed. And there are several distinct communities within the city. These communities are all special with their own merits and history. You would do well to add these places to your itinerary as well.

And of course, Washington DC will always be the home of American politics. We all know that politics and politicians are scar in their own right! When you are in Washington, DC, do not forget to also visit the Lincoln Memorial and visit the Rotunda.

If you are really in the mood for being scared, you can also check out some of the other haunted walking trails throughout the city. Washington, DC is home to many different neighborhoods, which have been around for ages, and they all have their own ghost stories and hauntings.

There are also walking tours of the haunted areas of DC and the White House. You will start out in Lafayette Square, which is also called Tragedy Square. These walking tours are a great way for you to learn about the violent deaths over the years that have left spirits in their wake. These tours are also a great chance to learn about the many affairs, duels and scandals that have taken place in this historic city over the years.


The Hay-Adams House is more than a grand hotel that celebrates the friendship of two notable writers and thinkers of the day. The Hay-Adams Hotel is significant because of the number of artists and writers that did frequent the hotel. It was a great place for them to meet and share ideas.

However, the story goes deeper. Clover Adams was a young woman when she committed suicide, just 42 years old. She was an artist herself; she was a writer like her husband, but was more known for her photography. Some people feel that her husband having a mistress contributed to her depression. Others feel that the death of her father was a factor. No matter the reason, Clover most likely killed herself by swallowing potassium cyanide.

The Hay-Adams House today is haunted by the spirit of a sad woman, Clover, on the fourth floor. She has been heard weeping. She also opens and closes doors and speaks to the housekeeping staff. She is most active the first two weeks of December.

A trip to Washington, D.C. would definitely be a treat and if you stay at the Hay-Adams House, you might just get a few tricks too.