D.C. is filled with statues and many of them are just not right. From the uncomfortable to the downright terrifying, we’ve chronicled the worst offenders, statues that make you feel like any minute they might spring to life and drag you into an early grave. Here are 13 of the most terrifying statues in the District of Columbia. Sometimes living in this city is a goddamn nightmare.
13. Spirit of Haida Gwaii
Unfortunately this creepy little thing was covered up on the day we visited, but you can see the 19 foot monster in person right out front of the Canadian Embassy. That’s right, instead of having a bronze sculpture of maple syrup, poutine, or Justin Trudeau, they erected The Spirit of Haida Gwaii. The idea behind the statue is to convery Canada’s rich aboriginal heritage, which is a fantastic idea. That sounds like a great statue! I would love to see that statue. What they created instead was something that feels like it came out of a twisted fairy tale. It features a mixture of animals shoved into a boat being lead by a shaman, which seems like it could be fine, except the animals look like terrifying demons and the shaman looks like he’s going to spring to life and murder me at any moment. Also, the animals are the same size as the shaman? Is he a small man or are they huge animals? Either way, I am afraid.
While this bares the boring and casual title of “Crouching Woman” (or “Lust”) I think the Hirshhorn could secretly rename it Regan MacNeil in Repose and no one would bat an eyelid. This woman doesn’t look like she’s crouching (or even casually feeling herself up). It looks like she’s in the middle of a fight with Beelzebub for her soul… and she’s not winning.
Okay, so this statue looks like a mundane portrait of a woman… and it mostly is. The statue was modeled after the adopted daughter of William Henry Seward, Abraham Lincoln’s and Andrew Johnson’s Secretary of State. What you can’t tell from this particular image, is that there are thick dark marks running down her face that make it looks like she’s crying pools of black. Combine that with the style, which makes her look more like an interpretation of a doll than a person (mainly because there were no photos of her at the time, so the sculptor just sort of did whatever he wanted), and you’ve got everything you need for some good old fashioned nightmare fuel.
Look, I love Pablo Neruda as much as the next person okay? I’ve read some of his poems in their original Spanish. I’m not a hater, but his bust outside of the Organization of American States looks like it’s trying to suck my soul out of my body through it’s terrifying black eyes and I do not consent.
This beauty sits outside of the Croatian Embassy and by beauty I mean a portrait of grief and weariness. It’s meant to honor the man who translated the bible into Latin. It definitely makes sense to have him doubled over a book, but that doesn’t make the statue seem any less depressing. Just looking at it is giving me a sympathy migraine.
The Organization of American States sure knows how to pick ’em. This horrifying demon is supposed to be a statue of Spain’s very own Queen Isabella, the woman who sent Christopher Columbus to find the new world. Instead it looks like a thorn riddled monster who is going to devour you whole and digest you very slowly. If you put this out front of your home, it would be an exceedingly good deterrent to any sales people or robbers. If you can comfortably walk past this statue then you are a stronger person than me.
This is just one example, but every single statue at Nationals Park looks less like a baseball player and more like a Lovecraftian nightmare that could rival Cthulhu. There is no reason for any of them to have multiple arms, and yet, this is the world that we live in.
6. Louis Daguerre
This is a totally fine statue if you simply pass by it without giving it another thought, but the more research I’ve done for this list, the more I’ve become disturbed by it. Right outside of the Smithsonian American Art Museum / National Portrait Gallery, the memorial is meant to honor the inventor of the daguerreotype, an early form of photography. Instead, it looks like a woman has decided to display his head on a shelf. I know I’m reading too much into it, but it’s goddamn eerie.
This memorial of our 15th President is another copper statue that has degraded to the point where it looks like the face is crying a thick black wave of tears. It’s creepy as hell and I don’t want it looking at me.
There you are, walking about Rock Creek Cemetery, checking out Upton Sinclair’s grave and minding your own business when BAM you run into the creepiest statue you ever did see. Doesn’t it look like she’s reaching out, trying to pull you into an early grave? When I came across her, I half expected her to start chasing after my photographer and me. And again with those black tears. I can’t deal with this shit. It’s too much.
The memorial to this Lebanese poet and philosopher is good in theory. Fountains are always welcome additions to a neighborhood, but not when the subject of the fountain looks like a beheaded man transforming into a beast made of flora and fauna. That’s where I draw the line. I just cannot get over how weird it is. At least take his head and put it on the body of a real animal and not some sentient and all knowing pile of leaves. Show some respect.
2. Black Aggie
If you’re from Maryland (or if you have friends from Maryland who are obsessed with the state’s many haunted tales) then you probably know about Black Aggie. Originally located in Druid Ridge Cemetery in Baltimore, the statue was considered to be wildly haunted. Those brave enough to sit in Black Aggie’s lap would lay eyes on all manor of ghostly spirits. Others say that Aggie would move around at night and that no flowers would grow in the shadow of the statue. The weirdest part of the legend claims that any woman who sat in Aggie’s lap, or even stood in her shadow, would not be able to get pregnant. Whether you believe it or not, it’s a fun Baltimore urban legend… Even though the statue now currently resigns in the courtyard of the Dolley Madison House.
“But Kaylee!” You’re probably saying, “If that’s a picture of Black Aggie, why are you using the same photo for this so called Adams Memorial?” To which I say, 1. Because I don’t have a picture from the Dolley Madison House and 2. Because the infamous Black Aggie statue is actually a copy of the Adams Memorial! Made in 1891 by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the sculpture (which the artist called “Grief”) was supposed to adorn the grave of Henry Adams’ wife, Marian “Clover” Hooper Adams, who committed suicide. In the cover of night, some art thieves made a cast of the statue, and it ended up on General Felix Agnus’ grave where it became known by the name Black Aggie. The Adams Memorial is tucked away in an enclosed area in the middle of Rock Creek Cemetery and if you need a quiet place to read or meditate I highly recommend it. Just be ready to feel on edge the entire time.
Words by Kaylee Dugan, Photos by Clarissa Villondo
Here are some extra photos for those of you who want to continue to feel terrified by inhuman sculptures: