Used once as a confederate hospital during the Civil War, this uniquely shaped home in Kentucky never seemed to let go of the soldiers who passed within its walls. Some say the soldiers never left, still walking the halls of their final place of refuge as brother killed brother in nearby battlefields. This antebellum home was built with the most unique structure in the region, and today serves as a museum to teach the history and lessons learned behind closed doors. Today, we’re exploring the Octagon Hall in Franklin, Kentucky, aptly named for its unique design.
The foundation of the Octagon House was originally built in 1847 as Andrew Jackson Caldwell began to build his future family home. Around 1860, the structure would finally be completed and the Caldwells moved in full time. They couldn’t know the impact that house would have had just a few years later when war broke out in the young United States. In 1862, following the fall of other forts in the south, the Confederate army would commandeer the building for use as a hospital. Reports say nearly 10,000 soldiers took refuge on the property, some of them hiding in the building to avoid the Union army as it closed in on their location. The Octagon House would be evacuated and captured by the Union Army shortly afterward.
Caldwell was an admitted Confederate supporter, so his harassment did not end with the vacating of the home, as Union soldiers frequently dropped by in an attempt to capture the family harboring Confederates late into the skirmish. The grounds of the hall also contain a cemetery for enslaved people, next to a garden honoring their passing. Caldwell would pass away in the home just one year after the Civil War ended, in 1866. His wife, Harriet, would remain in the home for nearly 50 years after her husband’s demise, until the home was purchased by Doctor Miles Williams in 1918, who also remained in the home until his death in 1954.
After the good doctor passed, very little is known about the activities in the Octagon House, used for years as a rental property, until it’s purchase and renovation in 2001 by the The Octagon Hall Foundation. The uniquely shaped building would then be turned into a comprehensive Civil War museum, telling the tales of the soldiers who fought, died, and some say, never left. The Octagon Hall Museum & Kentucky Confederate Studies Archive is considered one of the most haunted buildings in Kentucky because of the bloody past on its grounds and those souls that were never put to rest.
The Octagon Hall has been the subject of numerous paranormal investigations, from novice ghost hunters to the famous groups from A&E and the Travel Channel. The Hall reports that it’s been visited by nearly 250 different Paranormal Teams. Shadow figures are most frequently reported, wandering the halls and standing in doorways, but disappearing once the viewer turns to look closer at the figure they saw out of the corner of their eye. A young girl, a daughter of the Caldwells, died on the property when her dress caught on fire in the basement and she burned to death. Visitors and employees say the smell of smoke still permeates the basement and the screaming of children can be heard from the top of the stairs. It’s said these screams are from little Elizabeth, calling desperately for her mother.
The museum takes the hauntings in good spirits, naming the spirits of the house and working around them in their daily tasks. Beds that were part of the exhibits in the museum may be seen with a large depression in the shape of a body, but nobody can be seen that could have caused it. Sheets had been ripped off of beds violently, throne across the room or hanging on nearby chairs. Some have claimed to capture full-bodied apparitions of Civil War soldiers on the premises during paranormal investigations, and mysterious voices captured on tape, known as EVPs or Electronic Voice Phenomena.
Spirits of the enslaved people who lived on the property are also said to be very active, communicating with paranormal investigators and making themselves known near the cemetery they very well may be buried in. Employees of the museum have reported hearing a cheerful “Hello!” when opening the house for the day, and more terrifyingly they sometimes hear a forceful and clear voice say “Get out!”
This eight sided structure is open for tours of the museum, but also opens its doors for a variety of paranormal investigators, even offering guided ghost experiences for novices looking to dip their toes in the water of paranormal experiences. You can find it in Franklin, Kentucky and take in the strange beauty of the eight-sided home, and learn a little more about the bloody history of the Octagon Hall.
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Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.