NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — James Barnett is a man from Smyrna who loves photography and wanted to share his passion with the Volunteer State.

“I took a lot of pictures of old buildings and old things like that, and I told my wife one day I need to do something with all of these and she said well you have a lot of people on Facebook who are always looking at your pictures so why don’t you find a website or something,” Barnett said.

That idea for a website, turned into a Facebook group called Abandoned Tennessee.

“I figured it’d be maybe 20 to 30 people that I knew, and I really didn’t see it getting bigger than that,” he said.

But boy did it. Barnett first created the page in 2015.

Now 8 years later, the group currently sits at a whopping 224,000 members with the number continuing to rise daily.

“A lot of the people that followed the group to start with were people who were shut-ins, they couldn’t get around, they were older people, and they like being able to see the old barns, see the old homesteads like they grew up in, and they can’t get to anymore,” Barnett said.

Over the years, James has come across thousands of abandoned buildings of every shape and size. His favorite might you ask?

“Wilburn Mill,” Barnett said.

You can find the long-standing estate between Pulaski and Lawrenceburg Tennessee about sixty miles south of Nashville.

Wilburn Mill, Lawrence County
Wilburn Mill, Lawrence County (WKRN photo)

“It is a 4-stage flour mill. The original mill was built in the 1820’s, it was burned during the Civil War, and after the war it was rebuilt to the building that’s there today,” Barnett said.

Barnett added another favorite that comes to mind is the Tennessee State Prison in Nashville.

After years of inmates like Martin Luther King Junior’s assassin, riots, and executions, the prison was forced to close in 1992 because of inhumane conditions.

More recently the prison was damaged in a tornado outbreak in 2020.

Tornado damage to TN state prison
(Photo courtesy TDOC)

The list of unique and unusual structures doesn’t stop there. Barnett said if you’re interested in seeing more deserted buildings with stories to tell, check out Abandoned Tennessee.