The ‘others’ who still inhabit the Navy Rec Center
Solomons spot offers Halloween spookiness year round, some say
When patrons check into Cottage 8 at Navy Recreation Center Solomons, they may end up sharing the space with an extra guest or two they didn’t actually invite.
The waterfront cottages, where Cottage 8 is located, were built during World War II when NRC Solomons — known then as Solomons Annex — operated as a Navy base and housed thousands of active-duty personnel, many of whom trained in amphibious assault and practiced for future conflicts in Europe by storming the area’s beaches.
“The cottages were the original JO, senior enlisted, and officer’s quarters on the base,” said Carrie Rose, NRC Solomons director, who has worked at the installation for more than 20 years.
Cottage 8 must have been a particularly favorite home for one little girl who, it seems, is not in any hurry to vacate the premises. There have been numerous incidents where guests and NRC staff alike have reported hearing a little girl talking, laughing and running up the stairs inside the cottage.
“Housekeeping heard footsteps have going up the stairs and a little girl giggling,” Rose said. “They’ve also said they can sometimes hear her mom humming or singing to her.”
Last November, shift lead desk clerk Adrian Fenwick and a fellow Navy Getaways staffer entered the cottage in the early morning for a spot audit and discovered that, although the space was completely void of furniture because of a water leak, it wasn’t quite empty.
“Once we entered the unit from the side French doors, we heard feet running around us, more so in a circle, but there was nothing in plain sight,” Fenwick said. “The footsteps ran through the living room and up the steps. Once the footsteps reached the second level, we heard the upstairs bedroom door slam extremely loud. We didn’t investigate; instead we left immediately.”
Some people claim to have seen the girl, who is said to be around 7 to 9 years old, and have described her as either wearing a nightgown or a little navy blue Sailor-style overcoat.
“Recently, in September, a new customer said she saw a little girl go inside the cottage, but the cottage was locked and closed,” Rose added. “Last winter, during pre-inspection, NRC staff opened the door and could hear a little girl talking on the back porch. There were no customers; it was the dead of winter. After they closed the door, they heard laughing and saw the little girl run up the stairs.”
Cottage 8 isn’t the only location of unexplained activity, however. In Waterfront #2, customers have reported seeing an older African-American woman sitting in a rocking chair.
“There’s a double sided fireplace and one side of the house used to be the resident’s quarters and the other side of the fireplace was the help’s quarters,” Rose explained. “People have seen her rocking near the fireplace and can hear the chair squeaking.”
The grounds of the NRC Solomons complex are also ripe for strange encounters, such as people saying they’ve seen service members walking in old military uniforms and then just sort of floating away or disappearing; heard men shouting “throw the line” and felt a heavy thud against the pier, or men shouting “push off the rocks” down by the beach, when nothing and no one is there; and some have smelled gunpowder near the tall flagpole, the site of an original parade field.
Others, including Rose, have also seen rows of men marching.
“Our oldest sidewalks are double sidewalks, or what were called cadence sidewalks, designed so people could march on them,” she noted. “People have reported seeing rows of men marching down them late at night and I’ve seen them myself; like, an entire platoon of men. I’ll be driving a golf cart and it’s something I’ll see out of the corner of my eye, and then they’re gone.”
Rose recalled hearing the sound of children’s laughter, the words “tag, you’re it” and footsteps on the metal stairs at the Adventure Zone around 11:30 p.m. while working late one night. She too has heard the footsteps in Cottage 8, and has also heard a little boy’s voice saying “I’m sorry” near the location of the new swimming beach.
“The area that leads down to the beach formerly was the site of a playground,” she said. “The lifeguards hear him all the time because the beach stands are there and the field is behind them. But there’s never anyone there.”
Though some guests and staff have reported these experiences through the years, no one ever claims to feel scared or disturbed.
“Mostly what’s heard are children and young adults having fun, or military members going about their business,” Rose said. “They don’t hurt anyone or do anything. They’re just here doing their thing and we have to be here with them, so you just keep on going on. I’ve never once been scared.”
Over the years, guests and Navy Recreation Center Solomons staff have reported hearing the giggling and footsteps of a young girl in Cottage 8 when no one is around. Some have even reported seeing the child wearing either a nightgown or a navy blue Sailor-style overcoat.