Octagon Hall Museum
This eight-sided country house may be harboring more than eight hauntings in its walls.
The Hauntings of
- Mysterious dragging footsteps are heard
- Doors are known to slam without explanation in the house
- A soldier’s shadow figure is seen in the driveway
- Visitors report being touched by unseen hands
- A wheelchair in one room is said to move on its own
- The apparition of a little girl is seen around the property
- Disembodied voices are often heard, and numerous potential EVPs have been recorded
- Strange lights have been seen and recorded
Octagon Hall’s Civil War History
Right off the state highway between Bowling Green and Franklin, Kentucky, nestled in the shade of tall trees, is a home unlike any other.
The Octagon Hall Museum, as it’s known today, has seen great amounts of history pass through its corridors and now proudly displays it for all to see. And, many people now stop at the museum, and not simply because it’s the shape of a stop sign.
Octagon Hall is well known for its informative and educational tours, though something else there attracts far-flung travelers: ghosts.
Whether spirits of Civil War soldiers or specters of playful children, they’ve all come to call Octagon Hall their permanent home.
Timeline of Octagon Hall Museum's History
Swipe or use timeline points to see Octagon Hall Museum through the years
In 1847, Franklin resident Andrew Jackson Caldwell sought to build a new, unique home for his growing family. Using bricks made on site and locally sourced lumber, Caldwell built the foundation of an eight-sided homestead.
Reportedly, Caldwell built his home this way out of a fear of storms, believing the octagonal shape would protect from high winds. But the shape couldn’t protect against accidents. During construction, tragedy struck when Andrew’s daughter, Mary Elizabeth reportedly suffered fatal burns when her dress caught an oven.
The Caldwells buried Mary Elizabeth in a grave behind the home and kept on building until Octagon Hall’s completion in 1859, twelve years after construction began. Turmoil continued, when, in 1862, a Confederate force of around 9,000 men marched onto Octagon Hall’s property to camp, with the home being used as an infirmary.
Shortly after they departed, Union troops moved in pursuit, occupying the Caldwell property. Until war’s end, Union troops would harass the Caldwells and accuse them of harboring Confederates.
Before the war, the Caldwells depended on slave labor on their property, but after the Confederacy’s devastation, the family was left in desolation with land ransacked by war. Andrew Caldwell died in 1866, furthering the family’s woes. Not much is known about the goings on at Octagon Hall through the remainder of the 1800s, but the property was sold in 1918, to Dr. Miles Williams.
Williams, an Osteopath from Tennessee, established the property as his new home, and the legacy of the Caldwells seemingly faded.
Miles Williams remained in residence at Octagon Hall until his death in 1954. After that, Williams’ heirs turned the oddly shaped home into a rental house. But by 2001, the old house had seen better days, and the Octagon Hall Foundation was created to restore the property and convert it into a museum.
The Foundation successfully purchased the property and opened it to the public soon after. Ever since, many visitors have come hoping to learn about the unique home and maybe even encounter one of its resident ghosts.
Is Kentucky’s Octagon Hall Haunted?
As with many surviving Civil War structures, Octagon Hall is reportedly haunted by phantoms of its wartime past. During its use as a Confederate infirmary, it is believed that two Confederate soldiers died there. Now, spirits of those soldiers reportedly linger through the rooms.
One paranormal claim associated with these entities is a mysterious dragging sound in the house, like a wounded soldier dragging their leg around. Outside the house, the shadowy figure of a soldier has been seen, and reportedly photographed, in the driveway.
Ghost of Mary Elizabeth
Along with ghosts of the Civil War, the spirit of Mary Elizabeth Caldwell is also said to remain on the property. Though there are some conflicting reports about the cause and time of her death, Mary Elizabeth is most often seen around the home as a child.
Her ghost has been encountered in a variety of places, but is often found in the basement, near where she is said to have caught fire. Visitors to that area have reported the sensation of being grabbed on their arms by a small, unseen hand, as if a child is trying to get their attention.
Octagon Hall’s Shadowy Apparition
Others, including the museum’s director, have reportedly seen Mary Elizabeth with their own eyes. As with the other reports of her activity, she is most often seen in the basement.
Reports suggest that she will appear vividly enough to seem real, only to disappear into blackness before the viewer’s eyes. Aside from the basement area, Mary Elizabeth’s apparition has also been seen by onlookers from inside playing in the house’s yard.
Paranormal Evidence in Civil War Museum
Over numerous paranormal investigations of Octagon Hall over the years, investigators and researchers have encountered and recorded countless mysterious sounds and potential EVPs from the home.
Many of Octagon Hall’s EVPs are said to come from Mary Elizabeth, asking to play or calling out for her mother, though other recordings come from more uncertain sources. Those who have investigated Octagon Hall say that, at times, those spiritual recordings can be heard in real time as disembodied voices.
Slamming Doors & Mystery Lights
Beyond the well-defined entities of Octagon Hall, the building has numerous paranormal reports that aren’t yet associated with any specific spirit. Doors around the house have been heard slamming, and some of them have been captured on video slowly closing without any explanation.
A wheelchair kept in one of the rooms has also been known to roll around the area by itself. Unexplained, mysterious lights have also been encountered and recorded on video around Octagon Hall.