Exorcist Steps

When you think of an iconic horror movie, The Exorcist (1973) immediately comes to mind. Written by William Peter Blatty and directed by William Friedkin, The Exorcist follows a tormented young girl and the skeptical priest who tries to help her. Several scenes were filmed in Georgetown, Washington, DC, where it’s set.

At the end of the film, Father Damien Karras allows the demon to possess him and he throws himself out the window down a flight of stairs. Those stairs are located in Georgetown leading from the intersection of 36th Street NW and Prospect Street NW down to Canal Road.

The Exorcist (1973)

Looking from top down, it’s easy to see how long, narrow, claustrophobic, and steep they are. I wouldn’t want to even walk up or down them, let alone jog like a group of cross fitters were doing when I visited.

The Pilgrim

Designed by Albin Polasek, former head of the Art Institute of Chicago’s sculpture department, “The Pilgrim” is a bronze statue, now stained seaweed green, of an elderly woman walking toward the mausoleum belonging to the Stejskal-Buchal family in Bohemian National Cemetery, at 5255 N. Pulaski Road in Chicago, Illinois. It’s now sometimes simply called “Death” or “Walking Death.”

The Pilgrim IV

Curse of the Blair Witch

Written and directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, The Blair Witch Project (1999) was filmed entirely in Maryland and was the first “found footage” horror film. It made over $248 million worldwide on a $60,000 budget.

The Blair Witch Project was presented as a real documentary project that went wrong when its three filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland. Much of the movie’s first 13 minutes were filmed in and around Burkittsville, a real town in Frederick County.

Burkittsville’s sudden notoriety annoyed its inhabitants, and souvenir hunters repeatedly stole the town’s iconic sign. The wooden welcome sign shown in the film has been replaced by a more fashionable blue one.

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From Sorrow to Serenity

Monument to Mead Belden (1833-1876) and his first and second wives, Sarah Elizabeth Hubbell (1834-1855) and Amelia Gertrude Woolson (1844-1864) and their family in Oakwood Cemetery, 940 Comstock Avenue in Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York. Mead was a Freemason, a clothing merchant, and senior partner of Belden & Van Buskirk. Later, he was involved in construction and helped build canals and reservoirs.

Mead Belden (1833-1876) I

According to legend, either a ghostly bride or bride and groom have been seen descending the stairs to the bottom of the hill. The following eyewitness account appears on a sign for the Oakwood Ghost Trail: “Me & my friends spent the night in Oakwood one night. Over by the stairs graves in the west of the cemetery, I looked to my right and saw the bride and groom. They were beautiful, but they were bloody and they vanished before our eyes.” It’s unclear how this story is related (if at all) to the Belden family.

Encountering The Sentinel

“Did you ever see the movie The Sentinel, Mr Peterson? It’s about the old guy who owns the apartment which is kinda like the, uh, gateway to hell.”

Ricky Butler, The ‘Burbs (1989)

Written and directed by Michael Winner, based on a novel by Jeffrey Konvitz, The Sentinel (1977) is a horror film about a fashion model who moves into a house occupied by a blind priest who guards the gateway to Hell. It was filmed at 10 Montague Terrace in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, New York City.

Screenshot from The Sentinel (1977)

I never watched The Sentinel, but it’s mentioned in my favorite movie, The ‘Burbs. The creepy green ivy covering the old Brooklyn apartment building was gone when I visited a few summers ago.

Wisdom of Shadows

This cloistered memorial dedicated to Marian Hooper Adams (1843-1885) is by far the most famous in St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery, 201 Allison Street NW, Washington, DC. Historian Henry Adams commissioned this sculpture of a hooded figure from artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens in honor of his wife, Marian “Clover”. The statue, though Adams requested it remain nameless, has been called “Grief”, “Angel of Death”, or “Peace of God”. There is no inscription.

Marian Hooper Adams (1843-1885)

Things get weirder… According to John Alexander, author of Ghosts: Washington’s Most Famous Ghost Stories, visitors have reported feelings of extreme loneliness at the memorial. Stranger still, some say the spectral image of a frail woman appears there at dusk. Is this the ghost of Mrs. Adams reaching out for human companionship from an anonymous grave?

Valley Diner (defunct)

Valley Diner (defunct)
Cool ghost neon sign for the Valley Diner outside Toms Brook (south of Strasburg, VA) along U.S. Route 11. According to Diner Hunter, it opened in 1932 and was likely built on-site. This sign has been there since at least the 1960s. dinerhunter.com/2011/11/27/valley-diner-toms-brook-va/

Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia

Laurel Hill Cemetery, 3822 Ridge Avenue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the second oldest rural cemetery in the nation. It was established in 1836 on 74 acres of land overlooking the Schuylkill River. Its lovely neoclassical gatehouse was designed in a Roman Doric style by architect John Notman (1810-1865). Laurel Hill was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998.

Brig. Gen. Hugh Mercer (1726-1777)

Brig. Gen. Hugh Mercer (1726-1777) was a Scottish-American physician who settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia and was a personal friend of George Washington. He fought in the French and Indian War and in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, where he was killed at the Battle of Princeton.

Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade (1815-1872)

Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade (1815-1872), nicknamed the “Old Snapping Turtle,” is most famous for commanding the Union Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Gettysburg. He commanded the V Corps during the Battle of Fredericksburg and replaced Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker as commander of the army. His star faded after Gettysburg, however, as General Ulysses S. Grant personally directed operations in the Eastern Theater. He made Philadelphia his home and died of pneumonia brought on by his old war wounds.

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