With Halloween around the corner and the revival of all things spooky, Rockville’s 200-year-old Beall-Dawson mansion-turned-museum comes into focus, brimming with history and rumors of ghosts.
Built in 1815 by the wealthy Upton Beall, the federal style home features three floors with a sturdy brick exterior and a drafty interior, complete with ancient, creaking floorboards. What was once the home of the Bealls, a prominent family, is now a hub for history buffs and paranormal enthusiasts.
One encounter that earned the Beall-Dawson house its haunted reputation occurred 20 years into Montgomery County Historical Society’s (MCHS) ownership of it. People have reportedly seen a black man’s ghost laying bricks in what was once the passage separating the slaves’ work quarters from the main living spaces. Some speculate the spirit belonged to a slave who aided in the house’s construction or Nathan Briggs, a man who made renovations to the house in the 1940s before committing suicide.
Aside from seeing figures, members of MCHS have reported hearing strange sounds. Some have heard the name, “Priscilla,” echoed throughout the museum. Priscilla Dawson, the last namesake of the house, lived the entirety of her life there, having inherited it from her mother Amelia Somerville, cousin of the previous homeowner, Margaret Beall. Paranormal enthusiast and museum employee John Doe* recounts his own experiences in the house. “I was sitting at the front and I heard something being dragged across the floor,” he says, “I don’t know if it’s truly haunted, but people have heard bumps in the night.”
If you are craving to learn more eerie history or listen to first hand accounts, MCHS and Peerless Rockville Historic Preservation are hosting lantern led tours featuring spine-chilling tales, urban legends, and the Beall-Dawson house, October 19 in the evening. Tickets for the event, Ghosts & Gravestones: Haunted Tales of Rockville’s Past, are $20 on Eventbrite. There is limited space for each of the three guided walks, so it is recommended to get your tickets soon. Sophomore Stephanie Williams says, “I would consider going just to have that experience once. The mystery behind the house’s history is what intrigues me most.”