ABOVE: Franklin on Foot founder and guide Margie Thessin poses in front of the Lotz House, where there will be a special night of tours on Halloween. // SUBMITTED
By Melissa Hambrick
Looking for a family-friendly spooky time this October?
Just creep on over to downtown Franklin for one of Franklin On Foot’s many haunted history tours.
Known for its year-round walking tours, Franklin On Foot’s busiest time of year is October, as their most popular tour takes center stage. Families and friends share a fun, spooky, and even educational experience for the whole family during the Haunted Franklin Tour.
Storytellers share ghost stories about some of Franklin’s most interesting former residents and the historic homes and businesses they are
said to haunt, including Shuff’s Music at 118 3rd Ave. N., and Gallery 202 at 202 2nd Ave. S.
Haunted Franklin Tours begin every night of the week at 7 p.m., with additional tours added at 8:45 if demand is high.
“It’s not gory, but it’s spooky. People want spooky,” says Margie Thessin, founder and owner of Franklin On Foot, who says they can hardly accommodate everyone who wants to do their ghostly tours this time of year. “But it all depends on your personal level. Some adults are nervous about the tours, but then some six or seven-year-olds love it. We don’t really have an age limit, though we do suggest you don’t
A history major in college, Thessin moved to Franklin 30 years ago, and later began volunteering with the Heritage Classroom program offered by the Heritage Foundation. Eventually her love for her new hometown blossomed into Franklin On Foot in 2003, beginning with the popular Classic Franklin Tour and Haunted Franklin Tour. Since then, Thessin has written several books, including Ghosts of Franklin:
Tennessee’s Most Haunted Town, available through Franklin On Foot and at local businesses such as Lotz House, Puckett’s, and Landmark Booksellers, as well as online at Amazon.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of another of the tour group’s popular events, the Grave Matters Cemetery Tour. On October 27, from 7 to 9 p.m., costumed actors will portray Franklinites who are buried there, from freed slave Anarchy Cowles to teenage Union sympathizer Frannie Courtney, who tended to Union soldiers at First Presbyterian Church. A crowd of almost 300 attended last year’s event at Rest Haven Cemetery in Franklin, located at 4th Ave. North and North Margin Street.
And all this local spookiness has drawn national attention as well.
On October 5, 2018, Travel Channel was in Franklin for their live ghost-hunting show, “Haunted Lives,” at the Lotz House. In 2012, Travel Channel named the site as one of the most terrifying places in America, due in great part to its role in the Civil War and the unexplainable occurrences that seem to have haunted the historic house. Since it’s airing, Thessin says they’ve had many calls about another popular spooky tour, Ghosts of the Battlefield at Lotz House. This tour takes place every Friday evening at 6:30, with only 25 guests in each tour group.
Franklin On Foot’s 2018 Halloween season wraps up with a first-time event. From 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. on October 31, Franklin on Foot will host Halloween at the Lotz House, including a costume contest and treats. Five tours will run consecutively through the evening, each with a limit of 25 participants.
Though the ghoulish season will soon be over, Franklin On Foot’s tours run year-round, including the popular Haunted Franklin tour. July is the second-busiest time of year for the group, which offers history, Civil War, crime, and even food tours of Franklin. Tours for children, field trips, and private tours are also available.
Reservations are required for all Franklin On Foot tours, and can be made at FranklinOnFoot.com.