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Everyone knows Taylor Swift practically invented the art of cryptic messages, turning her millions of fans into an army of sleuths who find the hidden meaning in everything from her music to her outfits. In the ever-expanding pool of Swiftie theories, a fresh one suggests the Queen of Pop’s Rhode Island home—aka where she famously hosts her epic Fourth of July parties—may be haunted. Let’s get into it, shall we?
The theory, which is expounded upon in a recent episode of House Beautiful’s haunted house podcast, Dark House, is tied to the song “the last great american dynasty,” a track Taylor released on her album folklore in 2020. Fans instantly became obsessed with the story it tells of the former owners of her Watch Hill, Rhode Island home, which is also referred to as Holiday House. Throughout the song, the musician describes the life of Rebekah West Harkness (also known as Betty), an American heiress who founded the Harkness Ballet following the death of her second husband, William Hale “Bill” Harkness—a man whose family members were early investors in the Standard Oil Company.
During a deep dive on the history of Holiday House, Dark House co-hosts Alyssa Fiorentino and Hadley Mendelsohn break down “the last great american dynasty” and its lyrics line by line to reveal which parts are true, which aren’t, and what’s missing from Rebekah’s story. While most of the wild anecdotes mentioned in the song turn out to be at least partially true (yes, Rebekah really *did* dye someone’s pet green to exact her revenge), one mystifying line doesn't quite seem to fit in with the rest. 👀
The lyrics in question?: “They say she was seen on occasion // Pacing the rocks, staring out at the midnight sea.”
Alyssa Fiorentino says that nowhere in her research—which included reading Rebekah’s out-of-print biography, Blue Blood, and spending hours digging through newspaper archives—was she able to find the backstory to this lyric, leading her to wonder whether the line had a hidden meaning; If maybe it could be Taylor’s way of revealing an otherworldly presence on the property.
“What if the ‘she’ who was seen pacing the rocks was actually Rebekah’s ghost?” Alyssa asks in the episode, noting this could’ve been something Taylor heard from her neighbors after moving into the home in 2013.
Hadley Mendelsohn adds it could even mean that the musician herself has seen the ghost, although it’s also possible she’s simply using creative license to prove a point. Though she agrees that it could be a stretch, Alyssa brings up the album’s liner notes, which mention “ghost stories” as further support of her theory.
Obvi, there’s no way to prove whether or not Holiday House is haunted, but the co-hosts go on to review some *truly* horrifying moments in the property’s history, from a dead body washing up on the beach below the house to a barefoot stalker breaking and entering in search of Taylor herself. To get the full, spine-tingling scoop, you can listen to the Dark House episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.
And FWIW, after it was confirmed back in December 2022 that Taylor was in the process of making her feature directorial debut, fans at the time speculated it could be the movie adaptation of “the last great american dynasty.” Only time will tell!
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