Haunted Townhouse

Back in the 70s we rented a townhouse in Arlington, Virginia that was haunted. 

Now what made me remember this? Maybe because I, like many others, have been fixated on food while sequestered in my home over this past year due to the pandemic. Food and kitchens and houses. Now there’s a connection. Right? 

Back in the 70s, I was young and energetic and loved to cook and entertain—even though I had a toddler and worked part time in the recovery room at a local hospital. Some of my best creations came from that tiny kitchen in the townhouse. My husband and I often hosted dinner parties for the other young families who lived in our cul-de-sac. Once, inviting several couples, I made my husband’s favorite meal: Sauerbraten, sweet and sour red cabbage, potato dumplings and, from scratch, Black Forest Cake. Foodies out there will know that Sauerbraten marinates for five days and then is cooked long and slow and Black Forest Cake is a bear to make. Not to mention the challenge of that cramped kitchen. 

Back to the haunted townhouse. First, you have to know that we moved into a friend’s townhouse. Karl and his family outgrew their two-bedroom house and moved next door to a three-bedroom. He suggested we move into his vacated rental. We loved the idea of being close to our friends and having more room than our one-bedroom basement apartment, especially since I was expecting a second baby.  

One evening, soon after we moved into our townhouse, Karl and my husband, dashed about the living room trying to shoo away a bat that made its way into the house. I ran upstairs with my son, slamming the door to his bedroom behind the us. The men caught the bat in Karl’s son’s bug catcher and released him outside. The next week, I had a miscarriage. 

In the days that followed, I began to feel a strange presence. First in the kitchen. Was someone unseen hovering about? I would look over to our dog to check her reaction. Her sleep remained undisturbed. When I shut the refrigerator door a second slamming sound echoed from the ceiling. Sometimes the radio, which was on a shelf over the sink, came on unexpectedly. In the living room, I heard faint footsteps coming down the stairs. 

In the middle of the night, my husband and I were jolted awake by a crashing sound. We rushed downstairs to see what had happened. Glasses from the free-standing bar in the living room lay broken and scattered on the floor. 

Before we had a chance to explain these eerie events, they stopped. Perhaps because our lives were busy with jobs, another pregnancy and an active social life, my husband and I went about our daily routines forgetting about the bizarre incidents. 

After two years in the town house, my husband decided to change careers. He was accepted in a master’s degree program at an out of state collage. Standing by our U-Haul truck on a cold January afternoon, I spoke to Karl about the peculiar developments for the first time. 

He nodded as I detailed our experiences. “Yes, exactly what happened to us,” He said. “We didn’t want to prejudice you about the ghost.” he added, sheepishly. “She was testing you. She felt you were okay to live in her house so she left you alone. We decided she was a friendly ghost.” 

Was she now? 

An old antique photograph of a staircase with a spirit caught on film.

By Marianna Crane

After a long career in nursing--I was one of the first certified gerontological nurse practitioners--I am now a writer. My writings center around patients I have had over the years that continue to haunt my memory unless I record their stories. In addition, I write about growing older, confronting ageism, creativity and food. My memoir, "Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers" is available where ever books are sold.


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