The drive to Tennessee from my home in Texas was a scenic one as we travelled through the piney woods. It was a late summer trip and a final getaway for my family before my sophomore year in high school began.
By the time we drove into Nashville we were hungry so we decided to park in the old downtown section of town, walk around and find a restaurant. Soon, my attention was drawn to an interesting Victorian brick building across the street called Merchant’s Restaurant and Grill. I suggested we eat there and my family agreed. Once we stepped inside, the first thing I noticed was a beautiful old marble soda fountain counter. The waiter told us that it was original to the building and that this area was originally a pharmacy. After finishing our meal we walked through the three stories of the building which had many artifacts from the building’s history.
Later that evening we checked into a hotel and one tourist pamphlet that I had picked up in the lobby caught my eye. It was a walking ghost tour of the city which promised that at least one photograph taken by participants would show a “ghost orb” or apparition and I talked my parents into going later that evening.
The ghost tour group met in front of a nearby hotel at dusk. The group seemed full of anticipation as we came upon out first site, the Tennessee State Capitol Building, built in 1859. The guide told of a ghostly presence that was felt by many in the Capitol and a strange, faded figure of a man that had been seen. Many surmised that it was the ghost of the Capitol’s architect, William Strickland, who died shortly before the work was completed and requested to be buried within the Capitol walls. Other strange phenomena around the Capitol had been attributed to soldiers who had died defending the Capitol during the Civil War. Other sites included Saint Mary’s Church, and the old Ryman Auditorium. Built in 1892, it is best remembered as being The Grand Old Opry Country Music building from 1943 until 1974. The guide said that many believe there is a curse on the Grand Old Opry because so many of the stars associated with it met untimely deaths, and that a number of people have seen a man dressed in a Confederate uniform sitting in the balcony. When anyone goes near him, he disappears. We went to a place called Printer’s alley where a murder occurred and then it surprised me when we stopped in front of Merchant’s Restaurant and Grill, the place I had been drawn to as my family looked for a place to eat earlier that day. The guide said that murders and a suicide had been committed there in the 1800s on the third floor and restaurant workers have reported seeing a ghostly presence there.
I took photos with my digital camera at every stop but didn’t bother to look at them until we returned home. There were orbs on the pictures in front of the Capitol Building, at the Ryman Auditorium, in front of The Merchant’s Restaurant and in Printer’s Alley. Were they specks of dust, water droplets forming in the night, or ghost orbs? It’s been a mystery that has compelled me to start studying this phenomenon, taking more pictures in other supposedly haunted areas, and looking for answers ever since.
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