Anyone who has ever wondered whether Two Rivers Mansion in Donelson is haunted could get their answer at an upcoming event.
With Halloween beckoning, there’s a chance to take part in a spooky Spirit Legends Tour of the mansion and the 1802 house – the original Two Rivers home – that will highlight paranormal experiences seen within.
The unique tour gives visitors a chance to tour the mansion that was built in 1859 by David H. McGavock, whose family owned the Carnton plantation in Franklin, and his wife, William “Willie” Elizabeth Harding, whose family owned the Belle Meade Plantation. During construction of the splendid, restored mansion on McGavock Pike, the McGavock family lived in the adjacent house named “the 1802 House.”
The McGavock family lived in Two Rivers Mansion for three generations until 1964, when Metro Nashville government bought it from the last living McGavock heir, Mary Bransford McGavock.
According to Phil Claiborne, founder of Friends of Two Rivers and president and emeritus of the board, Two Rivers Mansion held a community Halloween event a couple of years ago, and once it hit social media, the attendance was “almost out of control.”
“We planned for about 2,025 attendees, and from 4,000 to 5,000 people showed up,” Claiborne said. “It was hard for us and our sponsors to handle, so we decided to take a break from it.”
Last year, they explored an alternative Halloween experience that was more manageable. Laura Carrillo has a long history with the mansion.
“She knows a lot of stories and unusual things that have happened over the past, and we decided to do an abbreviated history tour of the mansion and insert some of those stories at appropriate times,” Claiborne
Last year was the first time for the new angle, and Claiborne said it was an instant hit. Not only did visitors love the mix of history and spirits, but the mansion also had no real expenses and clear profits toward the mansion.
“Last year, we presented the tour one weekend, but this year we’ve offered it three weekends,” he said Oct. 9, which was the first tour night. “People just loved it. For many, it was the first time to tour the mansion and the 1802 house, and they were so pleased with the history part, and the spirit stories were icing on the cake.”
And what type of spirit stories will attendees hear? Claiborne divulged one. Willie and David, the couple who built the mansion, their first child, a son, grew up to adulthood. Their second child, a girl named Bessie, died of a childhood disease at 7.
Through the years, Metro Nashville staff worked in the mansion, as well as a person who stayed at the mansion overnight for safety measures.
“Stories of unusual happenings accumulated over the decades,” said Claiborne.
Some of those stories included at night hearing in the upper hallway the bouncing of a ball, as well as hearing a little girl laughing.
“And, footsteps on the stairs,” said Claiborne.
Spirit Legends Tour goers will hear even more stories as the tour the mansion and grounds progresses.
The tours last about an hour each, and the group tours are limited to 26, but split up between the 1802 house and Two Rivers Mansion. But all get the full tour and spirit stories without overcrowding.
Too scary for children? Claiborne said it’s important to know this is not a typical haunted house tour with goblins and mummies popping out of the corners.
“It’s a history of the beautiful mansion and some stories about the paranormal things reported to happen there,” he said.
He said it was a great date-night opportunity or for family and groups who want something a little different.
The remaining tours will be Oct. 16-17 and Oct. 30-31. There are two tours nightly at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The cost is $15 per person. There are 26 people total in each tour. Make reservations at eventbrite.com and then search for Spirit Legends Tour.