3130 McGavock Pike Nashville, TN 37214
Nashville City Cemetery is the oldest public cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee. Home to many historical figures and musicians, this Music City burying ground houses over 22,000 burials. A calm historic site by day, buzzing with spirits by night, the Old City Cemetery (as it’s often called) has been around since the 1800s, delivering a hair-raising show to those who dare walk by after sundown. Unexplained voices and ghostly lit lanterns are some of the eerie occurrences you can expect when visiting this popular haunted location after hours.
In recent years, the mansion has been used as a venue, giving the employees working the events quite a show. After they have locked up for the night, some claim they’ve seen lights flicker and bright orbs floating inside the house.
When staff is cleaning up, they can sometimes hear disembodied footsteps approaching and a crowd laughing, even though all the guests have left for the night. Apparently, doors seem to unlock and open by themselves, with the fact that they creak further enhancing the spook-factor. Add to that the items that disappear and reappear in a completely different area, and you have a haunted house.
On a positive note, the hauntings in this house are certainly creepy but not malevolent. It would seem as if the lingering specters of the McGavocks are just enjoying the afterlife in their home, unaware that they are scaring others half to death.
Plenty of haunted locations have their own “Lady in Black” legends, and Two Rivers Mansion is no exception. This dark shadow figure has been seen gliding inside the mansion as well as zooming across the golf course. Many believe that the so-called “Lady” is no lady at all, but rather a dark, human-like manifestation of a curse placed by Native Americans. After all, we did take their land and force them to retreat to reservations.
You see, the massive manor is all glitz and glamour until we dig into its surrounding soil. There, we will find the most common cause for a haunted house: an Indian burial ground. If one thing is for sure, no one should ever build upon one of these sacred sites. The spirits there don’t rest, they rise.
Sure, Indian burial grounds are mystical, but their demonization is far fetched. These are haunted areas - just like any other graveyard - just not the hotbed for evil they have been painted out to be.
Aside from being a land occupied by natives, during the American Civil War, the lack of space in existing cemeteries forced both sides to find other places to bury the casualties. With such large acreage, the McGavock property became an obvious choice. Due to the massive amount of burials and deaths in battle, some believe that the “Lady in Black” is not just one person, but instead, multiple deceased soldiers manifesting as a pain-stricken soul, hence the color.
What is most likely, however, is that the “Lady in Black” is simply the first owner, Mrs. McGavock, unaware that she is dead. This would explain why she is seen roaming both the home and the nearby golf course.
Mrs. Gavock was accustomed to making daily rounds throughout the property, checking the stables and barns, and ensuring everything was running smoothly. Could McGavock be stuck in a loop, living day by day, unaware of her death?
When it comes to paranormal activity at Two Rivers, nothing tops the spine-chilling occurrences in the golf course.
A large part of the burial ground already mentioned sits right under (you guessed it) the Two Rivers golf course. If you want to hear disembodied footsteps and unexplained voices, this is the place to go. The activity here is so intense that the madness happens even in broad daylight. This is where people often see the famous “Lady in Black” and get the feeling that they are being watched even when no one is around.
Like with any haunted attraction, there’s value in learning the history of the location. This helps us further understand who is haunting it and why.
One of the last Antebellum homes built in the city, Two Rivers Mansion, was constructed in 1859 for David H. McGavock and his new bride William “Willie” Elizabeth Harding. As David purchased surrounding properties, eventually, his plantation came to be a total of 1,100 acres. It has been estimated that over 50 buildings such as stables, barns, and sheds once stood on the property.
David and Willie’s son Frank inherited the Italianate-style home in the 1890s. After the financial panic of 1893 (launched after the collapse of two of the largest employers in the country), Frank almost went bankrupt. To make sure he didn’t lose the property, he passed it on to his only son Spence, who leased it while working as a shoe salesman.
In 1928, Spence married Mary Louise Bransford, and the couple made some notable changes to the structure. They added a plumbing system and electricity for comfort but only remained in the house for four years. After the couple moved to Melrose, Tennessee (where Mary Louise was from) the mansion was in the hands of a caretaker.
Two decades later, in 1954, widowed Mary Louise returned to the house, claiming living there was the happiest time in her life. She remained at Two Rivers until her death in 1965, the last member of the family to ever live in the home.
After her passing, the massive estate was acquired by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, which preserved 14 acres of the historic site and transformed the rest into schools, a golf course, a water park, and many more recreational areas to enjoy.
Two Rivers Mansion is not open to the public for tours. The home is currently used as a venue and can be rented for private events. The roads surrounding the house are open to the public, the best option for those who want to observe the house at night.