A Fright at Tennessee’s Historic Haunted Places

A Fright at Tennessee’s Historic Haunted Places

The ghosts of Tennessee have tales to tell.

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It’s time for stories filled with ghosts, furniture that moves by itself, figures in hallways and everything paranormal. When you come to Tennessee, ghosts are tied to history, reliving their past in battlefields, hotels, theaters and mansions. Don’t be surprised if you bump into one when you visit these historically haunted Tennessee destinations:

The Thomas House Hotel – Red Boiling Springs

The Thomas House Hotel, Red Boiling Springs
The Thomas House Hotel

One of the most haunted places in the U.S., the hotel is built on an ancient Native American trail and has been witness to deaths, murders, accidents and a home for a cult. Beds move, dark figures appear. You’ll experience cold spots, hear disembodied voices and feel absolutely terrified. The hotel hosts overnight ghost hunt weekends throughout the year, not for the faint of heart.

Orpheum Theatre – Memphis

Orpheum Theatre, credit Orpheum Theatre
Orpheum Theatre, credit Orpheum Theatre

Many Memphis travelers and locals alike adore the plethora of musicals, concerts and fine arts events hosted by the Orpheum Theatre. However, one guest in particular, Mary, hauntingly enjoys the theater from her balcony seat in C5. Many patrons, workers and actors have seen Mary watch the performances. She has allegedly been spotted dancing in the hallways and playing pranks on housekeepers by hiding their tools. 

The Read House Hotel – Chattanooga

Read House Hotel, Chattanooga
Read House Hotel

Before you book a stay at the luxurious Read House Hotel with plush bedding, complimentary Wi-Fi and name brand bath amenities, make sure you stay in Room 311 where it’s believed to be haunted by Annalisa Netherly whose head was nearly severed by a lover or husband while she was bathing. Others believe she died of a broken heart or committed suicide after she arrived at the hotel with a gentleman and he took an interest in another woman. Whichever is true, reports have been made about ghostly figures appearing in the mirror and resting on the bed.

Bijou Theatre – Knoxville

Bijou Theatre, Knoxville
Bijou Theatre, photo credit E.L.Smith Graphix

One of the city’s oldest buildings, the Bijou has served as a hotel called the Lamar House, a hospital during the Civil War, a site for Vaudeville, an “adult” movie house and, currently, a theater for concerts, plays and more. Paranormal voices, audio recorded noises and sights of apparitions have been reported.

Woodruff-Fontaine Mansion – Memphis

Woodruff-Fontaine Home, Memphis
Woodruff-Fontaine Home

Mollie Woodruff, who lived in the late 1800s, lost a child to yellow fever. Three days later, she lost her husband from a boating accident. She eventually remarried and had a second child who also died as an infant. She’s said to haunt the Mansion, as that was where she was the happiest. Reports of staff needing to smooth out the bedclothes in Mollie’s room have been shared along with other paranormal activity. 

Bell Witch Cave – Adams

Bell Witch Cave, Adams
The Bell Witch marker in Adams, Tennessee

No list would be complete without Tennessee’s scariest ghost story: The legend of the Bell Witch. Kate Batts is reportedly the witch who haunted John Bell and his family, particularly a daughter, Betsy Bell. Batts believed Bell cheated her out of a land deal. She later died and that’s when the strange occurrences began: sounds of a rat gnawing on bed posts, knocking, and sounds of chains being drug through the house, stones dropped on the wooden floors, choking and gulping and seeing strange-looking animals on the property. She currently haunts the Bell Witch Cave which is open for tours. You can also visit the John Bell Cabin where these paranormal activities occurred.