Ghost of girl appears, worker flees, 'good karma' remains

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Virginia,Aubrey Whelan

As far as ghost stories go, the one they tell at Arlington's Overlee Community Pool is spine-tingling: A young girl in Victorian garb, appearing in the window of a 100-year-old house that sat on the property. Patrons sometimes hear odd bumps and noises or wander into inexplicable cold patches there.

Now, as construction crews are renovating the pool and razing the Victorian-era Febrey house, the so-called Ghost of Overlee was enough to send one construction worker home.

Just over a month ago, a group of construction workers was preparing to demolish the house, which served as the pool's clubhouse for several years. Suddenly, one of them spotted something -- a little girl peering from a window, he told his co-workers.

The man went inside to find the girl sitting silently on the basement stairs. He turned around, then turned back -- but the girl had disappeared.

"He was really shook up," said site supervisor Jeff Schreiner, who hasn't seen the girl himself but says he "believes in apparitions" nonetheless. "He came in the next day and asked the supervisor if he could be relocated to a different project."

For the residents of the Overlee neighborhood, these stories are nothing new, and by all accounts, they take their neighborhood ghost very seriously. Ask, and they'll tell you the ghost girl's name (Margaret Febrey), her age (she died at 14 in 1913) and her connection to the property (her family once lived in the house).

Margaret -- rather, Margaret's ghost -- is a perennial character in the stories local children tell and, some residents speculate, a good-luck charm for the Overlee swim team. The area's civic association in a recent newsletter reminded residents that it's "important to be aware of all aspects of our neighborhood -- even the supernatural elements."

Members of the Overlee pool's board of directors didn't waste any time when construction crews arrived to tear down the Febrey house. They provided contractors with emails detailing the house's history and warning that some workers might spot Margaret.

"We're always cognizant of the fact that she was there. A big deal has been made out of it," said Harry Braswell, the owner of the contracting company at Overlee. "We got an email that had pictures of her and her birth date and the family. They said, 'Watch out -- you may see her.' "

Besides the single encounter with the ghost by the now-gone demolition worker, no other sightings have been reported. But some are concerned that renovations at the pool may have disturbed the Febrey ghost, and pool board members have visited her grave several times to assure her she's "very welcome to come and live in our new house," said Mary Bohan, a member of the board.

"I don't disbelieve in her," she said, laughing. "And I don't think anyone has ever felt anything sinister. We really hope that we're sending good karma to the ghost."

awhelan@washingtonexaminer.com

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Aubrey Whelan

Staff Reporter - Crime
The Washington Examiner