Memphis is best known for blues music and rock n roll, but aside from its rich musical history it also has a lesser known side to it. A somewhat darker side. For example, did you know that there is a rich voodoo culture? There is also plenty of paranormal activity to be had including some very famous spirits!
Let’s look at a few of the most haunted places in Memphis:
At first glance, Grawemeyer’s Piano Bar seems like an upmarket and classy piano bar. However, it has a darkside thanks to the level of paranormal activity that is present there. The majority of the staff say that they have seen all manner of strange occurrences including glasses being knocked off of tables by unseen hands and the piano playing by itself when the bar is closed! Some believe that the haunting is all linked to the death of the original owner of the piano that sits in the bar. She was murdered in a home invasion and there are still blood stains on the piano. This seems as good a reason as any for her spirit to now be bound to the Grawmeyer’s Piano Bar!
9. National Ornamental Metal Museum
The National Ornamental Metal Museum houses around 3000 examples of contemporary metal work and has a number of traveling exhibitions too. It is housed in four buildings that previously served as a Marine hospital in the late 1800s. It then served as a Civil War hospital which included sleeping quarters for doctors, nurses and soldiers.
One building had a morgue and body chute in the basement and this is the area that seems to be a focal point for hauntings. In 1979 the buildings were being renovated and the work seems to have stirred up the activity. It is now very common to here disembodied voices belonging to marines and medical staff. People also say that they have a feeling that they are being constantly watched. Investigators also find that the location id a gold mine when it comes to capturing EVP!
8. The Lorraine Motel
The Lorraine Motel is one of the most infamous locations in Memphis. Why? Well, because it was the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968. The motel is now part of The National Civil Right Museum that sits opposite and it has not been touched since the day of the assassination. When we say untouched, we mean it – the bedsheets are still rumpled, there are cigarette butts in the ashtray and Dr. King’s car is still in the parking lot! Visitors to the hotel say that they get a very uncomfortable feeling, especially in the area where Martin Luther King lay dying. Is this an indication that his spirit still lingers, or simply a residual haunting caused by what was a national, if not global, tragedy.
One of the most famous tourist attractions in all of Memphis is of course, Graceland – the former home of the king himself, Mr Elvis Presley. The building is almost like a time capsule preserving his memory and perhaps his spirit too. The property sees more than half a million visitors every single year and a good number of them have claimed to see an apparition of Elvis at Graceland. Most of the reports seem very similar. He is seen gazing down from one of the windows watching the hordes of admirers entering his home. A few even claim to have captured his spirit on camera, but the images tend to be very blurry.
6. Voodoo Village
Usually when people think of Voodoo their thought turn automatically to New Orleans, but Memphis is another city with a strong Voodoo culture. The Voodoo Village is a secluded community which serves as the heart of the Memphis Voodoo culture. It is a melting point of people practising varies styles of African Voodoo, Native American Spiritualism and even Freemasonic practices.
As you might expect, there are lots of stories of strange things happening in the neighbourhood, some linked to the voodoo rituals and others with a decidedly more paranormal feel to them. All of these experiences are anecdotal and there is little evidence to present, largely because cameras are forbidden because of the belief that photographs can reveal the dead and even steal the souls of the living. However, even without any real evidence, those who have visited will tell you that Voodoo Village is incredibly eerie!
5. The Inn at Hunt-Phelan
The Hunt-Phelan House, or The Inn at Hunt-Phelan as it is now known, is one of the most haunted places in Memphis. The red brick antebellum mansion has been restored to its former glory and sits behind an iron gate set in several acres of lush gardens. It looks beautiful, but it is hiding a darker secret! It is believed to be haunted by one of the Hunt family servants who may have buried some of the family valuables for safe keeping during the Civil War. However, he died before being able to reveal their whereabouts and is now unable to rest until someone finds them! This story seems to be backed up by the reports of paranormal activity coming from the house.
Guests and staff alike have reported seeing an apparition of a man in a 19th century servant’s uniform all around the property. It is thought that he is trying to reveal the hidden treasures so that he may finally cross over and find rest, but as of yet there has been no such discovery.
4. Woodruff-Fontaine House
The Woodruff-Fontaine House is said to be one of the most haunted places in Memphis and was featured on SyFy’s Ghost Hunters in 2013. This is largely due to the presence of several family spirits including that of Mollie, the daughter of the owner Amos Woodruff. The newlywed Mollie and Egbert Wooldridge moved into the mansion with her parents, occupying a suite of rooms on the second floor. Then tragedy struck. Their son was born and died the same day, March 13, 1875. Just two months later, her husband was injured in a boating accident and contracted pneumonia. He was brought home where he eventually died from taking on too much “swamp water” from the river. She is seen fairly often sitting on her bed in her second floor bedroom. When she vanishes there are often impressions left on the bedspread indicating that she really was sitting there. The smell of a woman’s perfume often wafts through the house. Volunteers and guests have also interacted with the spirits of Mrs. Fontaine and her son Elliot who are often encountered on the third floor. Paranormal groups come to investigate from all over the country and have documented paranormal activity with photos, video and EVP recordings.
There are events running regularly at the house were you can join in with paranormal investigators. See here.
3. Orpheum Theatre
The Orpheum Theatre is said to be haunted by a pretty little girl with pigtails who was actually killed outside the theatre in 1921 when she was struck by a trolley. Ever since her death she has apparently haunted the theatre and is most often spotted during performances. She is especially active whenever there are performances that at geared towards children – for obvious reasons! She has become such a fixture at the theatre that seat number C5 is never sold! The theatre has reserved it permanently for Mary. Aside from watching the performances, Mary has also been known to slam doors and flick the lights on and off!
2. The Pontotoc Hotel
Back in the 1920s, The Pontotoc Hotel was actually a very well known bordello. These days the building may appear to be boarded up and abandoned, but there is actually family who lives their, occupying the first floor. However, the second floor remains empty. Why? Well, because all attempts to carry out the necessary renovations have been thwarted by the resident spirits who are keen to keep the hotel exactly as it is. Despite this, the Davis family who live on the first floor and have done for 30 years say that the spirits are all very friendly and that she has only ever experienced a positive energy in the property!
There is a very grisly story that is associated with the hotel and could go some way towards explaining why the building is haunted! Apparently, at one time the manager of the boarding house was a drunk and would frequently arrive home late at night causing all manner of disturbances. One morning, residents awoke to the smell of burnt hair drifting up from the basement and upon investigation it was discovered that the manager was burnt to a crisp inside the boiler! Was he so drunk he fell in or did someone push him?
1. Earnestine & Hazel's
The former Memphis brothel, Ernestine & Hazel’s has the reputation for being one of the most haunted buildings not just in the state of Tennessee, but in the entire United States! The building is home to a number of ghosts and even boasts its own haunted jukebox! Several customers have reported being touched in the bathrooms when nobody else is around. There have been multiple full bodied apparitions seen wandering around in the building and these have also been caught on film. A woman’s face has also been seen in the window of a second floor bedroom when the room was known to be empty.
The most famous tale of paranormal activity here is certainly the haunted jukebox. Pretty much every single day a customer will experience the jukebox playing the song they had been about to request before they even put their money in or make their selection. It has also been known to turn on and off randomly and even play when not plugged in. However, perhaps the best part of all about this haunted jukebox is that it sees to ‘listen’ to conversations going on around it and then play a song that seems to perfectly sum up the conversation.