Haunted Tennessee State Capitol

  • By: Gareth Popovic
  • Date: 12 January 2024
  • Time to read: 6 min.


The Tennessee State Capitol, which is located in the center of Nashville, Tennessee, serves as both a representation of government and an unintentional keeper of ghost stories that linger behind its walls. Even though it has history running through its veins, this former seat of power exudes mystery thanks to rumors of the unexplained.


The history of the Tennessee State Capitol is a testament to the evolution of governance and the rich heritage of the state. Built between 1845 and 1859, this neoclassical masterpiece was designed by renowned architect William Strickland, who envisioned a structure that would reflect the grandeur and dignity befitting the legislative heart of Tennessee.

During the construction of the Tennessee State Capitol, an unforeseen and dramatic event occurred. On February 25, 1856, a thunderous explosion rocked the Capitol building, causing significant damage. The explosion was a result of the ignition of volatile chemicals that were being used in the building’s construction, including gas for lighting and paint thinner.

As a pivotal landmark in the history of Tennessee, the Capitol has witnessed numerous historic events. In 1861, it bore witness to the state’s secession from the Union, which had profound implications for the American Civil War. The Capitol also played host to the inauguration of President Andrew Johnson, who hailed from Tennessee, making it a significant part of the nation’s political tapestry.

Tennessee State Capitol
Tennessee State Capitol – Credit pear_tato

Haunting Legends and Supernatural Phenomena

Wandering Confederate Solider

Tennessee State Capitol carries a legend that bridges time, recounting the tale of a Confederate soldier whose spectral presence lingers within its walls.

Transitioning to the core of the matter, the legend revolves around a Confederate soldier whose ghostly apparition has been witnessed both inside and outside the Tennessee State Capitol. This soldier emerges from history’s depths, manifesting in the present as a poignant reminder of the Civil War’s impact on the state.

During the Capitol’s renovation, a new facet of the legend unfolded. Workers tasked with revitalizing the building experienced peculiar and often unsettling incidents. Among them, some were forcefully shoved, while others heard a commanding voice sternly warning them against touching or moving anything. To their bewilderment, objects they had relocated were inexplicably returned to their original placements.

The spirit’s intent became clear: a steadfast dedication to preserving the Capitol’s historical integrity. Even from beyond the veil, this Confederate sentinel continued to safeguard the artifacts and memories that define Tennessee’s past.

Confederate Solider
Confederate Solider – Credit pear_tato

Ghost of The 11th President – James K. Polk

Within the grounds of the Tennessee State Capitol, where history meets the present, a haunting tale unfolds. This legend ties an enigmatic figure to the legacy of the 11th President of the United States.

Delving into the heart of the matter, the legend tells of the lingering presence of the 11th President. Reports reveal a figure dressed in dark attire, often found kneeling before the tomb of James and Sarah Polk. Strangely, as curious observers approach, the figure gradually fades away, disappearing into thin air.

Witnesses are adamant that this spectral figure is James Polk himself, caught in a vigil at his own resting place. Notably, the remains of James and Sarah Polk have been moved three times, with whispers of yet another relocation.

In the heart of the Tennessee State Capitol, where history’s resonance remains palpable, the legend of the 11th President’s ghostly presence endures. His unwavering vigil near his tomb raises questions about the unsettling journey of his remains.

Ghostly Command – “Don’t touch the furniture!”

Shifting to the 21st century, the Tennessee State Capitol remains a nexus of history and the supernatural. A modern tale emerges, as a construction crew tasked with renovation confronts an eerie enigma.

In this contemporary phase, a construction crew enters the scene. Amidst their work, an unsettling presence materializes: a dark, misty figure stands near the cupola’s staircase. Though its identity remains a mystery, a palpable threat emanates, conveying a clear message of unwelcome.

The crew’s encounter goes beyond the visual. They’re physically pushed, as a stern command rings out, “Don’t touch the furniture!”. Oddly, items moved by the crew return mysteriously to their original spots. What seemed supernatural had a different origin: a Civil War soldier, trapped in a perpetual struggle, not a malevolent entity.

Eternal Ghostly Feud

Within the Tennessee State Capitol, history melds with the spectral, yielding a saga of unyielding rivalry. The tale revolves around two central figures, Architect William Strickland and Samuel D. Morgan, each a key player in the Capitol’s construction and legacy.

Architect William Strickland, the visionary behind the Capitol’s Greek-revival grandeur. Even in death, his legacy was etched into its walls as the first to rest within. His burial in 1854, before the dedication, marked the beginning of a spectral saga. In the northeast corner, he found his eternal repose, a sentinel to his creation. Samuel D. Morgan, chair of the Capitol Commission during construction, plays the second role. Collaborating with Strickland, they forged a masterpiece while clashing incessantly. This feud followed them to their resting place – Strickland in the northeast, Morgan in the southeast.

The Capitol’s nightly symphony unveils their spectral rivalry. Each evening, at 9 p.m., their voices erupt into phantom quarrels. Their echoes pierce the building’s boundaries, a testament to the enduring nature of conflict.

Popular Culture and Media Coverage

Celebrated for its storied history and enigmatic allure, the Tennessee State Capitol has garnered attention not only for its political significance but also for the whispers of the supernatural that seem to cling to its corridors. Its towering presence has found its way into the spotlight of various television programs and documentaries exploring the realm of the unexplained. Notably, the captivating series “Shadows of History: Ghostly Echoes within the Capitol” delved into the chilling tales and ghostly encounters that have been reported within its walls.

Within the realm of literature, the Tennessee State Capitol has left an indelible mark as well. Works like “Nashville Haunted Handbook” by Donna Marsh and “Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee” by Michael Johnson unearth the spectral stories that intertwine with the Capitol’s rich history.

Presently, the Tennessee State Capitol stands as an essential destination for those intrigued by history’s secrets and the enigmatic pull of the unknown. Its enduring presence not only beckons to history enthusiasts but also to seekers of the supernatural, all drawn by its whispered tales and the enigmatic ambiance that shrouds this historic edifice.


As visitors explore the Tennessee State Capitol’s grandeur and echoes of legislative history, it’s impossible to escape the lingering sense that the past, with all its secrets and shadows, still walks among these hallowed halls. The Tennessee State Capitol stands not only as a testament to democracy but also as a keeper of enigmatic stories that remind us of the thin veil between the living and the spectral.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is the Tennessee State Capitol’s location?
A. The Tennessee State Capitol is situated in Nashville, the capital city of Tennessee.

Q. Are there any paranormal legends associated with the Tennessee State Capitol?
A. Yes, there are several eerie legends connected to the Tennessee State Capitol. One involves the spectral presence of a Confederate soldier and a persistent dispute between architect William Strickland and Samuel D. Morgan.

Q. Tell us more about the Confederate soldier’s legend within the Capitol.
A. The legend speaks of a Confederate soldier’s ghostly presence, observed both inside and outside the Capitol. This sentinel from the past is said to engage in mysterious activities, such as rearranging furniture and exerting unseen forces on renovation crews.

Q. Can you elaborate on the rivalry between William Strickland and Samuel D. Morgan’s spirits?
A. Strickland and Morgan, key figures in the Capitol’s construction, continue their disputes beyond life. Witnesses report hearing their phantom quarrels, often escalating to audible arguments, echoing through the Capitol’s corridors.

Q. Is it true that a misty figure has been seen during renovations?
A. Yes, construction crews have reported encountering a dark, misty figure near the cupola’s staircase. This apparition has been associated with unsettling physical sensations and commands.

Q. What’s the story behind the spectral appearances during renovations?
A. During renovations, workers have experienced inexplicable phenomena, including being pushed and hearing stern commands. These occurrences seem linked to the restless souls of individuals like the Civil War soldier and architect William Strickland.

Q. Has anyone claimed to witness the spectral disputes between Strickland and Morgan?
A. Witnesses have reported hearing heated arguments between Strickland and Morgan’s spirits, particularly near 9 p.m. Their quarrels are said to be audible even outside the building, perpetuating their rivalry into the afterlife.

Q. Can visitors experience these eerie phenomena during their visits?
A. While some have claimed to witness strange occurrences, paranormal experiences are highly subjective. Exploring the Capitol’s rich history may evoke a sense of the past, but encounters with its spectral legends remain unpredictable.

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