Three Other Things That Happened at the Watergate

Something big happened at the Watergate in 1972 and it led to a very defensive President Nixon giving this painful press conference. This is not about that event. In true Ghosts of DC style, let’s dig up three other things that happened at the Watergate.

Watergate in 1977 (Washington Post)
Watergate in 1977 (Washington Post)

1. The Reagans make a candlelit exit

Seem like an odd title? We thought so too. This is a quick article from the Washington Post on May 25th, 1984.

President and Mrs. Reagan made a candlelit exit from the Watergate South building last night–after tramping down a darkened stairwell from the ninth floor–when electricity in the building failed while they were attending a private dinner at Clare Boothe Luce’s apartment.

The White House said the Reagans and other guests had finished eating and were “engaged in after-dinner conversation” when the lights went out about 10:15 p.m.

As some Secret Service agents knocked on doors of nearby apartments seeking candles, auxiliary electricity was turned on, but it wasn’t enough to power the elevators of light the stairwells.

So, as agents and hotel employes held candles, the Reagans walked down the steps and out of the building.

The building management blamed the power failure on Pepco, but utility officials said there were no problems on lines serving the complex.

Blame Pepco? How dare they.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan
Ronald and Nancy Reagan

2. Two bomb threats empty Watergate

If Officer Sprinkle was around in 1972, this wouldn’t be an issue. Alas, he passed away in 28 years earlier, so … The Washington Post wrote about a number of bomb threats at the complex on October 6th, 1972, the same year of the Watergate burglaries.

Police evacuated two Watergate office buildings, 600 New Hampshire Ave. and 2550 Virginia Ave. NW, yesterday after anonymous phoned bomb threats against the Federal Reserve System offices there.

Phoned threats at 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. by a female caller sparked the evacuations and searches by the police bomb squad, assisted by police dogs. The evacuations ended at 9:45 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.

A third bomb scare occurred at 2:10 p.m. when a man phone the Watergate apartment switchboard. That search lasted until 4:30 p.m., but no one was evacuated.

Watergate as viewed across the Potomac
Watergate as viewed across the Potomac

3. Residents welcome police protection

The Watergate East was the site of a protest in early 1970, where political activists were rallying against the jury verdict in the Chicago Seven trial. Street fighting erupted between a large police force and demonstrators attempting to enter the residence of U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell.

Riding up in the elevator to her 12th floor apartment yesterday afternoon, Mrs. Messore, the wife of a Washington psychiatrist, discussed the Thursday afternoon confrontation between hundreds of angry demonstrators and police about a block from her luxury apartment.

“It inconvenienced me,” she said of the abortive “People’s Tour of The Watergate . . . I had to cancel my plans for the afternoon.” She said she had decided against leaving her 14-month-old child in the apartment with a baby sitter while the demonstration took place outside.

At least a dozen policemen were still scattered around the Watergate complex yesterday afternoon to see that the demonstrators made no second attempt.

The refreshments were provided for the police by the Watergate management, but Curtis Bagett, manager of the luxury complex that houses Attorney General John Mitchell, Secretary of Transportation John Volpe, Secretary of Commerce Maurice Stans and other administration notables, would not comment on the cost of the coffee, cookies and sandwiches.

rioters and police at the Watergate in 1970
rioters and police at the Watergate in 1970

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  • The good old days of street protests in my 1960’s and 1970’s DC. Why- wait…I can smell the tear gas now.