Whistling on the
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
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.
All our "Ghosts" Are Fun
Every year Falcon Rest is open, we
have more visitors who report experiences with unseen
"inhabitants" of the mansion. Sometimes these
might be figments of overactive imaginations, but occasionally
a self-professed skeptic finds reason to rethink his
Such was the case with a retired gentleman
who toured the mansion with his wife a while back.
The guide brought them back to the
Visitor's Center, and I overheard him telling the Victorian
Lady, "If this had happened to my wife, I wouldn't
have believed her, but it happened to me."
That was enough to bring me out of
the office to get more details.
"We had just gone into the dining
room," he said, "and all the hairs on my arms
started to stand up. I felt cold air move right through
me, like something had literally walked through my body.
I've never had an experience like that in my entire
life, even though there has been plenty of opportunity
to. After all, I was a funeral director for 40 years!"
His story reminded me of one of my
own that I'd never mentioned before.
Years ago, I was walking in one direction
through the mansion's dining room, and I felt something
cold go through me in the opposite direction. It was
one of the strangest feelings I've ever had.
I don't know for sure if I believe
in ghosts, but I do know there are some things I don't
understand -- in addition to my wife! Is Falcon Rest
really haunted? I'll leave that question up to you.
But all the "evidence" is just one more reason
it's the Victorian mansion where history is fun.