Saturday, September 19, 2015

Of Ghosts and History - Woodruff-Fontaine House

The Woodruff-Fontaine House is part of Victorian Village, one of the many historical places in Memphis, Tennessee. According to the website, the history of the house and its original owners are thus:

Amos Woodruff came to Memphis in 1845 to expand his carriage-making business. He bought the property and began construction in 1870. Completed in 1871, the first event held at the mansion was the wedding of Amos’ daughter, Mollie Woodruff. This is significant in that the mansion has a tradition of weddings from 1871 right up to the present! Amos Woodruff was a very successful carriage maker, and not only became very wealthy, but became one of Memphis’ most distinguished builders and supporters during a 25 year period. He was president of the city council, was a mayoral candidate twice, organized and presided over two banks and the Memphis & Ohio Railroad. He also presided over the Overton Hotel, the Southern Life Insurance Company, and was in the cotton and lumber business!

Noland Fontaine, was the second owner of the mansion. The Fontaines of Kentucky and Memphis are descendants of the Huguenots who fled from France to England after the 1685 edict of Nantes, immigrating to Virginia in 1716. Mr. Fontaine was a Cotton Factor of the very prominent company of Hill, Fontaine & Co. He died in 1912 and his wife died in 1928. In 1929, the estate was sold for $25,000.00 with the intention of becoming an antique shop; however, that venture was never realized. The house was subsequently sold to Rosa Lee for the purpose of expanding her Free Art School. The art school moved to Overton Park in 1959, and the house remained vacant until 1961, when the Association for Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities saved the mansion through a public fund.

However, all is not what is seems; the house is also quite haunted.

Thanks to my friend Stephen, I was able to conduct an intimate photo shoot within the house as well as receive a history lesson for each of the floors within. As I took my photos, I wondered about the previous inhabitants and their lives within such a beautiful place. At one point, I did ask Stephen about the ghosts and if they were "friendly", to which he replied that for the most part, they were. Although I spent over an hour in the house, I did not encounter anything supernatural . . . 

However, I did feel as though I was being watched, making sure that I gave the house the proper respect. I made sure to do so.

If you are ever in Memphis on vacation or you live here, please take a tour of the house or attend one of the many events located there. Stephen is part of a group known as Historical Haunts Memphis; they are always having events either at the house or at IONS: A Geek Gallery located in the South Main District in Memphis. 

I hope you enjoy the sample of my photo shoot and thank you again, Stephen!

 (the mannequins were dressed for a funeral)

 (one of the salons/parlours in the house)

 (the ceilings have their own story)

 (a Victorian mourning wedding dress. Love it.)

(the wallpaper of a room that instantly drew me in. I felt as though I wanted to live there immediately)

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