Ghost tours at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage explore the haunted side of history

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HERMITAGE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage is a historic site with 1,120 acres of property once owned by President Andrew Jackson.

It’s also one of the first historic sites to be opened as a museum. Bryan Gilley is the Lead Interpreter at the museum. He said not only does the Hermitage provides so much history in the daylight, it also, provides an entirely different history at night. Gilley spoke with News 2 about the ghost tours the Hermitage provides this time of the year.

“The first ghost story from the Hermitage comes from 1889. The ladies that started this museum were looking for a caretaker. They stayed at the house for a couple of nights and they never talked about their experience until one of them wrote a book. In her story, she talks about her evening, the mansion and how far out in the country this was at the time.”

Gilley said the ladies settled down for the evening and headed to bed in what is now known as the front formal parlor.

“They drift off to sleep and then in the middle of the night, it sounds like dishes falling everywhere, they hear a horse gallop across the room, and gallop out the door. The next morning, there is nothing in the room. They knew there was nothing in the house, yet heard these crashes of dishes.”

Gilley said when he began working at the Hermitage, he didn’t believe in ghosts, but since then, he’s had a few scares of his own.

“I stayed in the house too, and had a similar experience. Security needed some folks to watch the mansion while restoration was going on. I chose to read books about Andrew Jackson in Andrew Jacksons house. I’m reading the part about Rachel’s death and all the sudden I hear a similar noise, just like in 1889. It was a scary night for sure.”

Gilley said this wasn’t the only experience he’s had. Last winter, he had another scare while locking up the mansion.

“Some of the doors are the historic doors and we use the original skeleton keys to do that. The keys are clanking in my hand and I’m not even considering that when unlocking or locking the house at night. I put the key in the hole and you hear the latch turn and I hear footsteps behind me. I think well my coworker is messing with me, but there’s nobody there. Its an old house, houses make noises, and I put the key in the hole again, and only this time the footsteps are closer to me. There have been several experiences like this in the mansion and guests experience this on ghost tours when they’re lucky. ”

Gilley said they’ve been doing ghost tours at the Hermitage for several years and it is one of the most popular events they host. This year, they are restricting the number of people per tour due to COVID-19. Bryan explained that the tour is an experience unlike any other.

“It starts the visitors center, walk up through the trees, led by lantern down the carriage drive and we tell you how Jackson met the Bell Witch. Then you take a house tour, spend time in the house, going over a completely different set of stories that you hear in the day. Then, we head to the cemetery and the graveyard and talk about Jacksons death.”

Gilley said several members of Jacksons family are buried in the garden and the Bell Witch story is a crucial one to learn. He said they also allow staff to tell guests on tour stories similar to the ones Bryan had as they walk through the house. He said guests have had a few spooky encounters along the tour.

“We have had guests get some interesting pictures with orbs and unexplained pictures. Each tour is different you never know what you’re going to get. Guests love this tour.”

Another distinct part of the tour, is the 1830’s attire worn by the staff.

“We are one of the very few historic sites to wear historic costumes. We want to show guests what the style of the day was we display ourselves around the 1830s. I have a tailcoat, very typical of the time, all gentlemen would have worn a coat at all seasons of the year. A top hat, a waist coast and proper pants as well as riding boots. Gentlemen that were riding horses would wear tall boats like these we wear a full array of historic clothing. My shoes have a nice metal heel on them and it makes an awesome sound.”

Gilley said ghost tours will run through the first weekend of November. Due to COVID-19 resitrictions, groups are now cut in half to 13 per tour. Gilley said the Hermitage is following all of Metro Nashville’s COVID-19 guidelines. All staff and guests are required to wear masks.

Tours are held Wednesday through Sunday nights and each night there are two experiences, one at 7 p.m. and one at 9 p.m.

If you would like to learn more about signing up for a ghost tour at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, click here.

For more bone-chilling tales from across Tennessee CLICK HERE if you dare!

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