Sometimes, a cold wind will chill the bones of passersby walking through Georgetown in the darkness of night. If you happen to find yourself at the spot where M Street becomes Canal Road, you might notice an exceptionally long, steep staircase wedged between a stone wall and a brick warehouse.
For some, these stairs might look like little more than a daunting climb, but fans of the 1973 horror movie The Exorcist will likely recognize the site of the climactic final showdown between the self-sacrificing priest and the demon who possesses 12-year-old Regan.
The stairs themselves, which provide a shortcut between Prospect Street NW above and Canal Road NW below, are made somewhat inherently creepy by their narrow dimensions and ivy-covered walls. The payoff upon reaching the top is minimal, revealing a rather bland concrete pathway leading to the steps. Still, it’s a worthwhile stop for movie buffs or anyone looking to incorporate a touch of spookiness into their daily workout.
But if you’re a fan of geographically accurate films, then there’s more to see than just the stairs. Fans will remember how Father Miller was launched from Regan’s window onto the aforementioned stairs below. Though the exterior window was built for the film, the MacNeil’s house at 3600 Prospect Street sits right next to the stairs, looking nearly just as it did in the iconic film. While it is a private residence, the homeowners are very welcoming of fans taking photos next to the gate, trying their best to recreate the iconic poster.
Know Before You Go
Drive east along M Street. Just before it turns into Canal, you will see a lot on the right. You can pull over and park here. You will be right at the bottom of the stairs. If you climb to the top, the MacNeil's house is directly to the left.