“The University of the South” just sounds majestic, doesn’t it? I’d always wanted to see it so Sweetums and I took a drive up there a couple of months ago. It was as beautiful as we expected. All the buildings are made of the stone that is plentiful in the mountain setting of Sewanee, Tennessee. It was a pretty day, if hot, and we even saw deer frolicking on campus.
The University of the South is commonly known as simply, “Sewanee.” Founded in 1857 by several dioceses of the Episcopal Church, it is a private liberal arts college.
I wanted to share some photos of campus and, in the spirit of the season, share one of its ghost tales. We came upon the majestic and gorgeous All Saints’ Chapel. The first chapel was built of wood in 1904 and the massive gothic stone structure replaced it in 1959. The stained-glass windows were stunning.
According to the American Guild of Organists: “Shapard Tower, at the south porch of the Chapel, stands 134 feet tall and houses the 56-bell Leonidas Polk Memorial Carillon. It is named for Bishop Polk, a principal founder of the University.”
In the book “Haunted Sewanee,” author Annie Armour says the original chapel was haunted by a seminary student who was quite talented at playing the organ. The student reportedly “died tragically,” although Armour does not mention his manner of death.
In those days, students attended chapel twice daily and the building was never locked. Some nights near midnight, students studying late would heard the ghostly strains of the organ coming from the chapel. If the students were brave enough to go in and see if a human form was playing the instrument, they got a surprise. When they turned on the lights, the music would immediately stop and no one was sitting at the organ.
When the new chapel was built, a new organ was installed and the old one was moved to Guerry Hall, a performing arts venue. No such legends were attached to the new organ.
The ghostly player apparently followed the organ. During the 1960s and 1970s, according to Armour, students heard the ghost playing the organ in Guerry Hall. When it was sold, no one ever heard the ghost playing the organ again.
We didn’t get to see inside but I wanted to share some of Sweetums’ photos of the exterior, as well as photos of the rest of the campus. Maybe I’ll share photos of the university’s cemetery later. (Who knew universities had their own cemeteries?)