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John McCullough of the National Theatre


The National Theatre is the oldest continuing, operating theatear in the country.  The National Theatre (1321 Pennsylvania Avenue NW) opened at its current location on December 7, 1835, although the old building was torn down and replaced with the current structure in 1923. It  has experienced three fires and several re-buildings.

Nonetheless, some claim the theater is haunted by the ghost of actor John McCullough, who was murdered in the 1880s by a jealous fellow thespian where the modern stage is located today. For almost a century the National has been haunted by the friendly ghost of actor John McCullough, reputedly shot and killed by a fellow performer. The two men argued while washing clothes in the Tiber Creek, which then flowed through the basement backstage.  A rusty pistol, perhaps the murder weapon, was unearthed under the stage in 1982, near where


John McCullough’s remains are rumored to lie in the earth beneath the stage. The spook was first sighted by Frederic Bond, a comic actor and friend of McCullough’s, in September 1896. Bond was on the stage late at night reviewing preparations for the next day’s performance when he felt a spectral presence that terrified him. He then saw a ghostly figure dressed in the traditional garb of the Shakespearean character Hamlet. Recognizing the spirit, he shouted McCullough’s name and the ghost vanished. According to legend, his spirit roams the theatre on the eve of opening nights, and was once seated in the audience.


Ghosts of Scary DC Blog 9 John McCullough of the National Theatre © 2017 by Dr. Philip Ernest Schoenberg, Ghost with a Blog #ghosts

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