Sunday, January 1, 2017
HGB New Years Day Special 2017 - Indonesian Embassy
Happy New Year Everybody! We hope 2017 is a year of love, hope and peace for you. In this special, we talk about a few changes to the format of the podcast, plans for the new year, introduce the ambassadors for our newly launched Ambassador Program and the history and haunting of the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, D.C., also known as the Walsh Mansion. Let's make 2017 spooky!
Embassy of Indonesia - The Walsh Mansion
In the Dupont Circle of Washington, D.C. stands the Walsh Mansion. Dupont Circle is a historic district that is part of the original old city designed by Pierre Charles L'Enfant. It remained mostly undeveloped until after the Civil War, when grand homes and a traffic circle were built. The rowhouses here are in the Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne styles. What had been here before the neighborhood was a brickyard and a slaughterhouse. The name Dupont is to honor Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont.
Thomas J. Walsh was Irish and he emigrated from Ireland in 1869. He didn't have a dime to his name, but he built a small fortune working as a miner, carpenter and hotel manager. The fortune almost disappeared during the Panic of 1893. With the littlebit of life savings he managed to hold onto, he moved his wife and two kids to Ouray, Colorado in 1896. He bought the Camp Bird Mine fairly cheaply because it was thought to be dried up. He struck a massive gold and silver vein. He quickly became a multi-millionaire. He moved the family to Washington, D.C. and began construction on a massive mansion on Massachusetts Avenue NW. Construction took more than two years and finished in 1903 at a cost of $835,000. Henry Anderson was the architect and he designed the staircase to resemble one found on an ocean liner. The house is influenced by the École des Beaux Arts in Paris. For those who don't know, like us, this was the most important center of architectural education in the Western world in the 19th century.
The Walsh Mansion has 60 rooms, a grand staircase, a theater, a ballroom, elevator and a French salon. The family filled it with $2 million in furnishings. Thomas put a gold bar in the archway over the door as a symbol of why he was able to build such a large home. *Fun fact: One New Year's bash hosted at the mansion in the 1920s reportedly had the guests polishing off 288 fifths of Scotch, 480 quarts of champagne, 40 gallons of beer, 35 bottles of liquors and 48 quarts of assorted cocktails.* Thomas' daughter Evalyn married Edward Beale "Ned" McLean. His family owned The Washington Post and the couple moved into the mansion after Thomas passed away. The cursed Hope Diamond comes into the picture here in 1910. Ned bought the stone for his wife for $180,000. She was the last private owner of the diamond. The Hope Dianomd is a blue-colored Indian Diamond and the reason it is cursed is because it is reputedly part of a stone stolen from the french crown jewels.
During World War II, Evalyn let the Red Cross use the home for free. She passed away in 1947, heavily in hock and the Walsh Mansion was sold to cover her debts. The Government of Indonesia bought it in 1952 and they use it as their embassy. They got a great deal. They paid only $335,000. They spent and additional $75,000 refurbishing and added two demon-like statues from Bali . These statues are believed to possess the power to ward off evil and attract good.
Did the curse affect the McLean family? The McLean’s son died in an automobile accident, Ned had an affair and their daughter died from an overdose of sleeping pills. Staff of the embassy claim that the building is haunted. It would seem that Evalyn has never left. Her apparition is seen walking the beautiful ornate stairs. There is also another female spirit here that no one knows who she is, but she appears naked. This ghost was verified and written about by Hans Holzer.