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George Washington Slept Here

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Sometimes it's a President. Sometimes it's a King.

"Abe Lincoln never slept here—but YOU can!"
A billboard advertising a hotel on Kentucky's Interstate 65, the "Abraham Lincoln Memorial Expressway"

On Bob and Alice's roadtrip, they come along an old roadside manor. In front of it, they see a sign saying, "George Washington Slept Here"! How exciting!

This is when an old inn, manor or other tourist attraction was once used by someone famous and usually dead. Whether or not this is actually true is generally only addressed if it somehow becomes relevant to the plot, ie if the celebrity in question might have hidden a Plot Coupon or MacGuffin there. Could also be anything from an outhouse to a gas station.


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    Anime And Manga 
  • Chuck Norris slept in The Voynich Hotel, a fact acknowledged by most people who reside in Blefuscu, the island in which the story takes place. He rented the VIP room at the top of the hotel, and left a small pouch with his teeth, which apparently were taken by the hotel owner himself, in an impromptu match.
  • A variant occurs in After War Gundam X when a mechanic offers to knock down his fee if Roabea and Garrod let him take a picture of himself with their machines. If he can advertise that Gundams go to him to get serviced, he'll be able to charge his other customers that much more. (It also lets the villainous Frost brothers know that Garrod has been around, though.)

  • George Washington Slept Here is a 1942 Jack Benny film in which his wife buys a dilapidated old farm house for that specific reason.
    • Subverted as the local historical society has determined that it was actually Benedict Arnold who slept there. Then subverted again when they find evidence that Washington really had been there.
  • In Heathers, psychotic teenager Jason Dean's father, who runs a demolition company, laments that a historical society is trying to keep him from tearing down a hotel. The reason given is that Glen Miller and his band once spent the night there.
  • Referenced in the film Arsenic and Old Lace when one of the police officers asks if George Washington slept in the old house owned by the two old women.
  • In Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Cedric the bellboy tries to impress Kevin with the history of the hotel by telling him Herbert Hoover once slept there. In fact, Kevin doesn't know who Herbert Hoover was and assumes from the name that he was the inventor of the vaccum cleaner but he still seems pretty impressed by that.

  • In America (The Book), among the list of George Washington's achievements is "All-time record holder for Most Places Slept."
  • A "sort of history of the United States" by Dave Barry is titled Dave Barry Slept Here.
  • In Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, one of the selling points of the house is that General Gates supposedly stopped to water his horses there during the Revolutionary War.
  • In The Sherwood Ring, the family manor "Rest-And-Be-Thankful" literally does have (among other things) a bed that George Washington slept in.
  • In Three Men in a Boat the trope is discussed by the narrator - in connection with surprisingly high number of pubs allegedly visited by Elizabeth I and contrasted with surprisingly low number of pubs his fellow traveller Harris had not visited.
    She was nuts on public-houses, was England's Virgin Queen. There's scarcely a pub of any attractions within ten miles of London that she does not seem to have looked in at, or stopped at, or slept at, some time or other. I wonder now, supposing Harris, say, turned over a new leaf, and became a great and good man, and got to be Prime Minister, and died, if they would put up signs over the public-houses that he had patronised: "Harris had a glass of bitter in this house;" "Harris had two of Scotch cold here in the summer of '88;" "Harris was chucked from here in December, 1886."
    No, there would be too many of them! It would be the houses that he had never entered that would become famous. "Only house in South London that Harris never had a drink in!" The people would flock to it to see what could have been the matter with it.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Parks and Recreation, after Ben and Leslie have returned from their honeymoon in Hawaii:
    Leslie: We saw the bus stop where a young Barack Obama used to sit and wait for the bus... theoretically.
    Ben: That's possible.
    • While trying to find a reason for establishing a national park in Pawnee, Leslie discovers that President William Harrison once stayed in a cabin nearby. Unfortunately, all that's left is the foundation.
  • In The Vicar of Dibley, Frank says that Elizabeth I once stayed in Dibley when Geraldine asks for stories about famous people in the village. She's excited until Frank adds that Good Queen Bess only stopped because she'd come down with a nasty case of food poisoning.
  • On Just Shoot Me!, Jack's country house is next to a cabin where Washington planned the Battle of Yorktown. He tore it down years ago to build a tennis court. Which he doesn't use anymore.
  • A chair bearing a special mark that (allegedly) meant that Napoléon Bonaparte sat on it was a plot point in an episode of Lovejoy ; the eponymous antiques dealer was quick to point out that half the antique furniture in France had said mark on it somewhere, including a few items made after the man was dead.
  • In the first episode of Newhart, Dick is told that it's said James Madison once stayed at the Stratford Inn. In "No Tigers at the Circus", Dick brings up this fact to people inspecting the inn to see if it qualifies to be a historic landmark, but they inform Dick that Madison couldn't have stayed there because history has shown that he never traveled past north of New York.
  • In the Wings episode "This Old House", the house that Joe and Brian grew up in is condemned for demolition after a storm erodes the cliff it's on, threatening to drop it into the ocean. The cast set out to find a way to save it, and after failing, decide to instead let out some childhood angst and wreck parts of it themselves. Cue Fay coming in at the end to announce that the Nantucket Historical Society had found evidence that Herman Melville had once rented a room in that house and would therefore preserve it.
  • Two episodes of Murder, She Wrote are based around attempts to prove this: "Joshua Peabody Died Here ... Possibly", about the (perhaps fictional) founder of Cabet Cove, and "Benedict Arnold Slipped Here".
  • Mama's Family: In one episode, Mama is in danger of losing her home when the mayor plans to demolish the entire neighborhood to make room for a new city dump. She's able to save the day when she discovers (with some help from Bubba) that her house was once a brothel where the founder of Raytown died, prompting the mayor to declare her house a landmark and call off the demolition.

  • Referenced in Half Man Half Biscuit's "Fix It So She Dreams Of Me", in which the narrator's dream girl doesn't live in the kind of place that has any kind of historical connections.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Austrian cartoonist Gerhard Haderer once took a jab at the Austrian preoccupation of claiming that random buildings were in some way tied to the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:
    Golden plaque on old building: In this house, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) has never lived.

  • George Washington Slept Here is the title of a 1940 play by Kaufman and Hart about a married couple of New Yorkers who purchase a dilapidated farmhouse in Bucks County, Pennsylvania where George Washington allegedly spent the night once. Hilarity Ensues as they try to fix it up.
  • Damn Yankees mentions this in Lola's song "A Little Brains—A Little Talent," in a joke that had to be Bowdlerised out of the film version:
    You've seen the sign that says George Washington once slept here,
    Well tho' nobody spied him
    Guess who was beside him?

    Video Games 
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Old Hroldan Inn is said to be where the famous general (and later Deity of Human Origin) Tiber Septim slept on the night before fighting the battle in which he earned the name Talos Stormcrown. Sleeping in Tiber Septim's bed triggers a Side Quest where you have to retrieve his sword for the ghost of his "sworn brother," who has been waiting for him to return for several hundred years. And because you slept in Tiber Septim's bed (and you're also Dragonborn like him), the ghost is convinced that you, the Player Character, are Tiber Septim (even if you are neither male nor even human).

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • Numerous things in Springfield are considered historical landmarks simply because Jebediah Springfield did something there.
    • Parodied in an episode in which a recording studio engineer tells Homer "This studio has a lot of history. Buddy Holly once stood on this exact spot and said 'There is no way in Hell I'm performing in this dump!'"
  • Parodied in Family Guy. In an attempt to convince a historical society that the Big Fancy House he inherited had $100,000,000 worth of history occur in it (so he could sell it to them as repayment of a debt), Peter tried to fake this trope by scratching "Jesus Was Here" on one wall (and it was dated several years before Christ's birth) and installing an Underground Railroad tunnel (consisting of a toy train set hidden under some floorboards — "Go freedom train! Go!"). This was a disaster. Then it turned out that the house had been a presidential brothel frequented by Abraham Lincoln, among others.
  • On Hey Arnold!, Ernie and Grandma get in a fight when the latter petitions to save a historic building that the former is planning to tear down, prompting Ernie to tell Grandma, "You'd save a pile of dog droppings on the street if George Washington once stepped in it!"

  • Looney Tunes: In "His Hare-Raising Tale," a sign is seen outside the Washington home: "Watch your step—George Washington slipped here."

    Real Life 
  • Happens fairly often in real life, with old inns advertising that a historical figure once stayed there.
  • If we expand this to other basic activities by famous figures, you should travel to Israel sometime. They build churches, mosques and shrines on these places, most of which are historically proven to be not where the alleged event happened at all.
  • The page quote is from a billboard advertising a hotel in Bowling Green, Kentucky, that parodies the state's tendency to do this with its Lincoln connections by proclaiming, "Abe Lincoln never slept here—but YOU can!"
  • Bran Castle in Romania, at the border of Transylvania and Wallachia, has a reputation of being closely tied to Vlad Tepes, though such claims are suspect. While it is currently used as a museum, there was an attempt to sell it to the highest bidder in 2007; the auctioneer marketed it as Dracula's castle.
  • New York City tour guides call Fraunces Tavern, which is still there, "George Washington's favorite restaurant".
  • In Ireland, if there's a church or the remains of a church that's more than two hundred years old, it's a safe bet that your tour guide will claim that "The Saint Himself" (Saint Patrick) once said mass there.
  • After the First World War, Prussian general Max Hoffman got in a dig at his former boss, Paul Von Hindenburg, through one of these:
    "This is where General Hindenburg slept before the battle, this is where General Hindenburg slept after the battle, and, just between you and me, this is where General Hindenburg slept during the battle."
  • In the Austrian town of Braunau am Inn, the building where a certain historical figure was born is adorned by a memorial stone carrying the following words:
    For peace, freedom and democracy. The millions of dead remind us; may fascism never return.
  • The Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas has a sign out front that proudly says that both Joan Collins and Michael Jordan got married there (and the way the sign is designed implied they married each other).
  • Russia takes this one step further. Not only can you see where Lenin slept, you can see him still sleeping there!note 
  • Parodied in the tiny German college town of Tübingen. Goethe once stayed there to visit his publisher, and later wrote that he found the town to be horribly dirty, smelly, and generally unpleasant. Just under a second-story window in the middle of the town is a plaque reading "Goethe puked here"
  • There are multiple inns and pubs in the southwest of Scotland bearing plaques informing you that the poet Robert Burns once stayed there. The guy travelled a lot.
  • One could be forgiven for assuming that the main reason Charles I lost the English Civil War was his apparent preoccupation with trying to spend the night in every single stately home in the British Isles, considering how many of them seem to make this claim.
  • A closely related phenomenon is the "By Royal Appointment" emblem that British companies are entitled to use if the Royal Household purchases its products. This is an impressive boast if one sold them wine or bespoke furniture or something: Selling the Royal Household dish soap is probably no less impressive, albeit certainly a lot funnier in its sheer banality, not that it stopped Procter and Gamble printing the emblem on bottles of Fairy Liquid for many years.
    • The phenomenon also still persists in countries that don't have a monarchy anymore, with traditional companies like Alois Dallmayr of Munich (former Königlicher Hoflieferant of delicatessen to the Bavarian royal court) or Zum schwarzen Kameel of Vienna (former k.u.k. Hoflieferant of coffee and pastries to the Imperial Habsburg courts) still boasting about their historical achievements (and occasionally still supplying the monarchs' decendants).
  • The famous Château Frontenac hotel in Quebec City has themed 8 executive suites after famous politicians and figures who visited over the years, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill who came to Quebec City in 1943 and 1944 to discuss the war. Other notable figures include Céline Dion, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and his son Justin Trudeau and Alfred Hitchcock, who filmed I Confess there.
  • A rather morbid variation can be found in New York City's White Horse tavern - there's a plaque that says, "Dylan Thomas died here". (He actually collapsed into a coma on the sidewalk just outside, dying in hospital the next day, but close enough.)