Tennessee State Prison

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This 1898 prison, which was closed in 1992, has been used for the setting of many films, including “The Green Mile” and “Ernest Goes to Jail.” After its many fires, prison breaks and riots, the prison may well be a spot for paranormal activity. Folks have reported unexplained sounds, voices and footsteps.

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    Geographic Information

    Bomar Blvd
    Nashville, TN
    United States

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    36.175227158072516, -86.86467730898437
    Davidson County, Tennessee
    Nearest Towns:
    Nashville, TN (4.5 mi.)
    Nashville, TN (4.5 mi.)
    Belle Meade, TN (5.5 mi.)
    Berry Hill, TN (6.8 mi.)
    Forest Hills, TN (7.5 mi.)
    Oak Hill, TN (7.6 mi.)
    Brentwood, TN (10.8 mi.)
    Brentwood Estates, TN (11.4 mi.)
    Pegram, TN (11.6 mi.)
    Ashland City, TN (13.1 mi.)


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    Comments (12)

    1. In 1985 I went to work at this prison as a correctional officer. One particular night I had to work a double shift due to inclement weather. I was assigned to tower 6 above the ball field. Around three in the morning I was drifting off to sleep. Of course this was a major violation of post orders. I heard footsteps out on the catwalk. I jumped up and looked out every window. I seen nothing and sat back down at my desk. A few minutes later I spotted the headlight of the corporal’s vehicle. He was doing his nightly post checks. I silently thanked God that he had not caught me sleeping. I sat at the desk until he knocked on the door. The first thing he asked was had I been out on the catwalk in the snow. I told him that I hadn’t because I knew it was slick from the snow and ice. He called me over to the door and when we stepped outside there were footprints all the way around the tower. I told him they didn’t match the tread on my boots. He looked at my boots and agreed. Stepping back into the tower we both drew a deep breath. Directly behind my chair was a set of the same prints.

    2. Several years ago I was living in Nashville, it was the Halloween season, and they had a Halloween attraction going on The “Haunted Prison”. As I had a daughter who just loved halloween and all the scares that go along with it, so we decided to take her to the Prison to be scared.
      Just for the record, I am a 6 foot tall and at the time was about 300 pounds, I was a pro wrestloer in the 1970s, I preface with this information to note I am not a squirrly guy easily scared by anything, supernatural or otherwise.I also have been told I am “Sensitive” to the so called “spirit world” as I have had a few previous encounters with unexplainable events. I am not a nut case, nor do I discuss these things really ever. The reason I have sought out this site was because I was watching a TV Show that had similar situation in a prison (built the same year coincidentally) in Philadelphia,
      I had felt weird from the moment we got inside the walls of the cell block, I could not put a finger on what it was, but there was no question that I felt oppressed, like the air was heavy, and soupy Anyway, as we were going through the Haunted tour” we came to a maze built in the cell blocks.
      Suddenly I was being touched by unseen hands and being pushed to go in a certain direction, I tried not to react openly because I did not want to freak my wife or daughter out, but unfortunately, what or who was moving me did not care about the “maze’s” walls, and I just walked in a straight line through the walls, (not passing thru but going thru) much to the dismay of employees, and my wife, my daughter just thought Daddy was being silly, I continued to a certain cell, I walked into the cell, now with security hanging onto me, their shouts sounded like they came through a dense fog, and it was described to me later that I was akin to a juggermnault, my movements seemed not to be hindered one bit by 2 large security guards hanging onto my back and arms, I just kept moving as though they simply were not there, and in speaking to one of them after this was all sorted out, he said that it was like trying to stop a statue that came to life, he said it felt like my body was made of stone, as nothing they did would change my trajectory.
      Once in the cell I stood in the cell and started to pace the cell, I did this for only about a minute as I was consious of what was going on, It was just so surreal and honestly I WAS scared even tho I would not show it, I just felt strongly that I had to go, The cell seemed to turn into a meat locker the temp just dropped. The security guys both just stopped and stood there, I grabbed the cell bars and they felt like ice, suddenly the cell, and the situation (for lack of a better word) just became normal again. The sensation of this other presence just was gone.
      I was escorted out of the prison with the security guards, I was not detained or charged with anything because the 2 guards stood and even though they knew what they were telling the off duty nashville cop who ran security that they stood by my explination of the situation and although I pretty much destroyed the “Maze” and disrupted that particular “tour” I was let go and did not even have to pay for damages AND they refunded our entrance fee, (Something I did not ask for).
      I do not know what it was, who it was, or why it decided I was the right person to affect, but this was real, it all happened and it happened toi ME!
      I can describe the feeling as being stuck between our world and another, I was aware of what I was doing, yet while I think I could have broken free had I really tried to the sensation was one of being pushed and pulled and touched by several different entities to direct me. There is no question the 2 burly security guards should have been able to stop me, and while I was a large man, my muscles are no longer the rock hard unyielding muscle that the guards felt under their hands while trying to stop me. My wife and daughter had been escorted out before I was, as the security guards were being dragged along with me, they were escorted out.
      The guards verified everything I said they also said they felt the temp in the cell seemed to drop precipitously and suddenly when I grabbed the bars it all stopped.
      I have never discussed this with anyone other than my wife since that night several years ago. As noted it was just seeing a very similar situation on a tv show about a prison in Philadelphia that caused me to think about this and look up this prison in Nashville.
      Everything I have put here is true, and I have left quite a bit out as this post is long enough. I just want to again state I am not a ghost hunter, I am not looking for noterity of any kind, I can say without any question that this prison is haunted, I have knowledge of the prisoner that I believe “possessed” or at least directed my actions, and I have no way of knowing what I do about this guy.
      I do not think there is enough money in the world to get me back in that place, I not only left Nashville, I left Tenn. after this episode.
      There are things we simply do not know about or understand, what was magic 200 years ago is commonplace now, we just do not know what is truly possible. I DO know that there are things lingering at this closed prison in Nashville, what and why I do not know.
      I hope whomever reads this will not just think I am a nutjob making up a story, If anyone else has had anything similar let me know at largebal@gmail.com

      • I don’t think you were at the old Tennessee State Prison off of Centennial Blvd. TSP (The Walls) hasn’t ever been open to the public due to asbestos and black mold issues. The Haunted Prison attraction you are speaking of was at the old Deberry Correctional Institute off of Harding Place which has since been demolished. (Death Row Haunted Prison is now located in a new building.) I have heard the Deberry was haunted and even heard that a baby graveyard was found during demolition of that prison.

        • False. The Wall. Which my dad was a gaurd at. Has been opened to the public, and its also been used as a haunted house since 2008 during halloween.

          • I actually live within walking distance of the prison and have never seen it open to the public. Most people don’t realize that the facility’s cook chill and tricor operations are still active. Inmates still work the grounds although they aren’t housed there.
            The only time this facility is open to the public is during the Big Brother’s Big Sisters 5k run, which occurs in May. TDOC still operates the guard shack and turns around anyone without business there.
            The only time I ever could get on the grounds legally was during the filming of The Last Castle.
            I snuck into the prison in 1997 and walked the tiers and out buildings, death row, etc. Very creepy. Had the feeling I was being watched.
            Even 20 years ago it was in such a state of disrepair that I couldn’t see the state allowing the public to tour the place. Someone would wind up getting hurt.

      • My father was actually a prison guard at this very prison before it closed. It held so many torn apart bad souls. My father is not one to believe in anything paranormal but he will say him self and many other gaurds that worked with him, that The Tennessee State Prison is actually haunted.

    3. In 2010-2011 my husband and I lived in the Warden house located on site of the old TSP prison. The house consisted of three levels in the house – a basement with an inmate living quarters (years ago the Warden would have a domestic) 2 bathrooms, garage, laundry area, bonus room, and storage area. The second level has a kitchen, dining, bathroom, study, living room and bedroom. The third level had two larger bedrooms and a bathroom. In one bedroom was a door leading into a smaller room which we used for a closet. The house was approximately 3500+ feet in size.
      The house as well as the old TSP prison is truly haunted. While living in the Warden’s house which now is considered the Department of Correction Commissioner’s home. During our living at the TSP house we experienced footsteps walking throughout the house, up and down the stairs during the night, lights always dimming or going off and on. Pluming problems that Plummers nor Electricians could ever find was a problem – this is after calling them at least 5 times .
      We had a faucet turn on full blast in the middle of the night flooding the third level floor while we both were sleeping.
      We came in one day and the kitchen stove was “On” at 450 degrees when we had not used it for weeks. I never cook anything that high and would not have it on that setting. Most disturbing to me was the second floor bedroom adjacent directly across the old TSP prison. I could not sleep in that room. When I did I would have nightmares of demonic nature. I am a very spiritual person and could not understand why this was happening. This did not happen when I slept in the other bedrooms in the house.
      While living in the house you always felt you were never alone and were being watched at all times.
      Prior Commissioners and former Wardens that have lived in the TSP house have also stated the house was haunted or “some weird things goes on in that the house.”
      Additionally on site of the prison there is a row of smaller houses in the culdesac where paranormal events happened as well. At night you can hear all kinds of strange noises coming from the Prison. They are different than the average noises of an old place falling apart. I feel the haunting of the main TSP house are unrest spirits from the prison. There definitely is a heavyness, oppression and immense sadness with the prison itself.
      One day I took my daughter to the old TSP prison to show her around with the assistance of an officer. She was always fascinated with the paranormal.
      During our visit we were walking on the four level of a cell block. There was a bird nest built on some of the old pipes with almost fully developed baby birds. They could fly but were in the nest while the mother bird was flying around. As my daughter walked closer to the end of the cells we both witness an invisible force pick up one of the baby birds and throw it to its death. It was like throwing a baseball.
      We stood there shocked looking down at the floor. We abruptly left as my daughter did not want to continue the tour. The bird did not try and fly out of the nest as something picked it up and threw it. I felt the prison was haunted and was skeptical but after witnessing the bird’s death both my daughter and I had no reason but believe it was definitely haunted. We both felt very threaten by this entity and did not go back to the Prison.
      My daughter felt very uncomfortable in the house and said she would not go into the third level bathroom as she felt something bad happened there. It was also the bathroom the faucet was turned on full blast. My daughter did not know about the flooding until she told me she did not like that bathroom.
      Tennessee State Prison has a very sad and violent history with hundreds of deaths occurring during its day of operations. It also executed many men. Being an empathetic person I found it to be such a utterly sad place where there was no hope and some souls have not moved on. I said a prayer for those souls that had such a sad and terrible life.

    4. My mom worked in the administrative side of the prison for many years. I spent many summer days inside the offices as young girl. My mom was there during a riot in the 70’s. I remember when she came home , she was scared so bad but grateful to be out and alive. I could tell you of the stories of the prisoners and the deaths that were inside those walls.
      When the prison closed they had a reunion of the workers and their families, my mom and I went. I was excited to see the inside that I never saw when there. Now I wish I never had . As I walked through the main cell block I felt eyes on me from the individual cells. Shadows inside the darkened rooms that up to 6 men were forced to occupy . I had my camera with me taking pictures of it all . We then went to the Death House and old sparky sat . I attempted to take pictures and my camera stopped working. Once outside I took another picture and it worked….
      HMMMM coincidence maybe,maybe not… If you are ever able to go visit do it.

    5. Bill Wauford  |  

      Why don’t they do something in repairs for this historical place. What a shame it would be for it to be destroyed by father time, heck I would even volunteer to help with the cleaning.

    6. my grandfather was a guard at this prison when it was open for business. He told us that many prisoners died here either to sickness, murder etc. He took us on a tour one afternoon and as we walked past a certain are where the blacks were segregated, I heard the voice of a black man say,” Say man, I’ll give you two fiddy if you open dis do'”. I looked around and told my grandfather what I heard. He told me that the voice was that of an inmate named ‘Slappy”. Slappy was a tall,slim man who liked to play tricks on people. One evening, he played a trick on the wrong inmate and the inmate ended up killing Slappy in his cell. As we walked past Slappy’s cell,
      I heard ” Okay den, I’ll give you tree fiddy if you open dis do'” This time my grandfather heard it. He said,”Slappy, it’s me officer Jim., how are you?” It then got real quiet. This prison has a lot of history behind it. I wish my grandfather would give tours, he knows a lot about this prison.

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