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The “Ghosts” of Falcon Rest

The beautiful rooms of Falcon Rest Mansion in McMinnville, Tenn., often echo with the sounds of laughter as visitors to the 1896 Victorian tour mansion discover that history can be fun.

But apparently there are unseen inhabitants of Falcon Rest as well, who seem to enjoy being there as much as the tourists do.

Soon after the restored mansion was opened to the public in 1993, odd things began happening. Footsteps heard on the staircase when no one was there … lights switched on and off … items found in different places than they had been left … strange orbs of light in photos …

Several years ago, a staff member was decorating a Christmas tree upstairs. He came to the Visitor Center next door looking rather pale and asked, “Has anyone been in the mansion lately?” When assured he’d been alone, he explained, “I was whistling ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.’ I stopped, but the whistling continued for several seconds and moved down the staircase.” Apparently the ghost was in the Christmas spirit and, according to that young man, had perfect pitch.

Many of the “manifestations” seem to be centered around the bedroom of the original owner, Clay Faulkner. People sensitive to that sort of thing say they can feel a real presence in his room, but it is “friendly, curious, and just wants to be known.”

Quite the promoter, Faulkner manufactured Gorilla Pants, which he boasted were “so strong, even a gorilla couldn’t tear them apart.” Some suspect it’s his presence they’re feeling. Proud of his accommodations, pleased that he’s being introduced to 21st century visitors, and still the promoter, Clay may consider his visits a way to help make Falcon Rest famous.

If the ghost is Clay Faulkner, he might have company. A couple of years ago, a tour guide was leading a group through Mr. Faulkner’s room, and one of the visitors said, “When we drove up, we saw a young lady in a bonnet and long dress coming in the front door. Was that one of your reenactors?”

The guide said, “We don’t have anyone here today in costume,” then added, “but we do have inhabitants.” Immediately, they heard a loud crash. A heavy mirror in the dining room had fallen off the wall. Curiously, it had slid straight behind the buffet without knocking anything over, then hit the floor without breaking. The screws were securely in the wall, and the hanger wire was intact.

Since the friendly ghosts of Falcon Rest seem to be so interested in making themselves known, a new show with them as the stars premiered Halloween of 2004. It is now offered any time by advance reservation for groups of 30 or more.

“Ghost at the Mansion” tells the stories of mysterious happenings at the 1896 Victorian mansion over its 100+-year history. But instead of the traditional Halloween “spook house,” the show’s setting is a light-hearted ghost convention. Falcon Rest players are the “host ghosts,” but audience members are given characters of no-longer-living folks as well.

George McGlothin, who produced Falcon Rest’s long-running “Murder at the Mansion” interactive mystery play and meal, also authored the "Ghost" show..

“People have been wanting us to do something about the ghosts ever since we opened,” said McGlothin. “Two things Falcon Rest is famous for are fun and food, so we decided to incorporate some of the most popular features of the murder show into an original play about our ‘inhabitants.’As with "Murder," audience members at “Ghost” assume the characters of actual people. They get information about their alter ego, but no lines to remember, so they’re free to ad-lib as much or as little as they like

But unlike the popular murder mystery set in 1897, personalities attending the ghost convention aren't limited to a certain time period

"The only qualifications are that they were interesting and are now dead," McGlothin explained. "That opens up all sorts of possibilities for free-wheeling interaction. Anyone from Henry VIII to Lady Godiva to Elvis could show up for the fun."

The play ends with a special surprise twist, and is followed by a “spooktacular” feast in the Victorian Carriage House.

Falcon Rest, called “Tennessee’s Biltmore” by PBS, is open seven days a week from 9 to 5 Central time for guided mansion tours (including some amusing ghost stories), lunch in the Victorian Tea Room, and shopping in the Victorian Gift Shop.

Special entertainment and meals may be scheduled at any time for groups. Visit online at www.falconrest.com for more information.

 

 

Find more ghostly "happenings" on Falcon Rest's Ghosts Page.

 

For additional information contact
Charlien McGlothin
Falcon Rest Mansion General Manager

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2645 Faulkner Springs Rd. | McMinnville, TN 37110 | 931-668-4444 | falconrest@falconrest.com