The historic Sam Davis Home in Smyrna held its annual ghost tours this past weekend. Included in the $5 admission were a hayride around the premises, a Halloween themed tour of the mansion and a cornucopia of ghost tales.
After waiting in line in the barely tolerable cold, the tour started with a haunted hayride. The guide told of the Civil War battles fought near the home, as well the history of Davis himself.
The surprise scares that occurred on the route—including a depiction of Civil War amputation and an unexpected rifle shot that caused the entire group to be taken aback—were a nice touch.
The next stop on the tour was the mansion itself. A young girl in period clothing met the group outside the entrance and explained that the house was decorated for a funeral. She went on to tell of various funeral traditions, such as bringing flowers into the home to mask the smell of the body, and carrying the body out feet first to ensure the deceased didn’t look back to take another soul with him or her as they left.
Then was the tour of the home’s ground floor. A different guide in each room, who told of various ghostly encounters experienced by employees of the museum over the years, met the group. While these tales were eerie, it would have been nice to hear stories from the mansion’s heyday instead of modern tales, especially since the
guides were all dressed in period wear.
This wasn’t the only gripe with the tour. Firstly, it seemed rather short. The hayride and ground floor tour seemed to go by rather quickly, and ended quite abruptly. Also, there were numerous stories involving the top floor of the mansion, yet we were not taken upstairs. I was dying to see the children’s rooms that were the setting for several of the eeriest encounters.
Lastly, the tour guides/actors seemed to be too tied to the script. Some interesting tales, such as the mansion’s Civil War ties, were blandly read straight from a script. This led to some stories going in one ear and out the other, causing the focus to change towards what made the tour worth time and money—the atmosphere.
What made the Same Davis Home’s ghost tour worth the price of admission was its tone. You can’t get much creepier than a Civil War era plantation, especially when it’s decked out for a funeral. The sparsely lit rooms always kept you on edge, with every creak and groan leaving us wondering whether it was one of the employees moving around or one of the home’s many specters.
Also, the placement of the actors was done superbly. Whether they were waiting around the corner, emerging from the darkness or simply wandering around the premises, they always took the group by surprise and added to the unsettling atmosphere of the home.
Although there were several flaws in the Sam Davis Home’s ghost tour, the atmosphere alone is worth the time and low price of admission. I left wanting to know more about the mansion’s history and ghostly past. It would be an interesting trip to go back during the day and see the old home in its full glory.
And who knows, maybe I’ll have my own ghost tale to tell afterwards.