Falcon Rest McMinnville TN

by Leann
(McMInnville TN )

i have not seen anything, but it is said to be haunted by a young boy as well an elderly man who sings and hums...

In 1896, entrepreneur Clay Faulkner told his wife Mary he'd build her "the grandest mansion in Tennessee" if she would move next to their woolen mill, 2-1/2 miles from downtown McMinnville.

Mary agreed, and Faulkner supervised construction as enthusiastically as he promoted the mill's "Gorilla Pants" (so strong even a gorilla couldn't tear them apart) and mineral water at the Faulkner Springs Hotel, the "ideal health and pleasure resort" he would eventually open on the lake across the road.

Faulkner's solid-brick, 10,000-square-foot mansion had all the "modern conveniences" when it was built -- electric lights, indoor plumbing, central heat, and more. That's one reason PBS dubbed it "Tennessee's Biltmore."

In the 1940s, Clay Faulkner's mansion was converted into a hospital and nursing home. An early ad boasted a quiet location and an ideal climate, at rates of $5.00 to 8.00 per day -- according to care required. By the mid-1950's, Dr. J.P. Dietrich had added onto the building and renamed it the Faulkner Springs Hospital. Local folks still tell fond stories about the doctor and the house where he dispensed medicine and love. The doctor closed the hospital in 1968. He stripped out much of the woodwork in an unsuccessful attempt to tear down the solid brick structure, then let it sit empty for a decade an a half.

When George McGlothin bought the old house at auction in 1989, it was a ghost of its former glory. He and his wife Charlien began four years of restoration, tackling 95 percent of the work themselves. Their efforts were rewarded with the National Trust's Great American Home Award for restoration in 1997. Today, the mansion is filled with museum quality Victorian antiques, and some say it's presided over by a friendly ghost -- perhaps the proud builder himself.

Many of the stories about "spirits" at Falcon Rest center around the bedroom at the foot of the staircase where Clay Faulkner, the mansion's original owner, died in 1916. Footsteps heard on the steps when no one was there ... items found in a different place one day than they had been left the day before ... the scent of cigar smoke in the air ...

One Christmas a young man was decorating a tree in the upstairs hallway. He came to the Visitor's Center looking very pale and asked, "Has anyone been in the mansion lately?" The answer was, "No, but why do you ask?"

He gulped and said, "I was whistling 'It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.' I stopped, but the whistling continued for several seconds and started moving down the steps." According to this young man, our "ghost" not only appears to have been in the Christmas spirit; he has perfect pitch!

The mirror that fell
Another tour guide named Liz was telling a group in Mr. Faulkner's bedroom about the suspected ghost. One of the women said, "When we came in, I saw a young lady wearing a bonnet and a long dress come into the mansion's front door. Was that one of your reenactors?" Liz said, "There's no one here in costume today, the front door is supposed to be locked, and we don't really have 'reenactors.' But we do have inhabitants!"

Immediately, there was a loud crash that sounded like an explosion. Liz went through the rest of the tour dreading what she'd find broken, but she saw nothing out of place. It took another trip through to realize the ornately carved mirror that had been hanging above the dining room buffet had fallen, without hitting anything on the buffet. It struck the floor without getting broken itself. The wire that was holding it up was still firmly attached, and the screws were still in the wall.

It may have been a coincidence, but we like to think the "inhabitants" were trying to confirm Liz's story. We've been told since then that ghosts don't like looking into two mirrors that directly face each other (this one had faced the one over the mantle), and it was the third time that mirror had tried to fall down. Since next time they might break something on the buffet, and one good ghost story is worth a whole lot of mirrors, we've just left the mirror where they dropped it years ago.

Recording devices gone berserk
Spirits are well-known for interfering with electronics. Faulkner was ahead of his time with technology (in 1896 his mansion had indoor plumbing, electric lights, central steam heat, a telephone, and primitive air conditioning), so he would naturally be interested in today's recording equipment.

The Cookeville, Tenn., PBS station taped what they thought was a flawless feature several years ago, then called to say they would have to do it over. "It sounded like there was a hurricane when we played back the tape," they said, even though the day of the taping had been perfectly still.



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