Written by Sarah Chesek
On an unsettling pursuit for the supernatural, guests of Chattanooga’s Ghost Tours are provided all the necessary ghost hunting equipment for a chilling haunt. Parapsychological Field investigator Alice Stephens educates their visitors on Chattanooga’s rich and eerie history while providing an interactive spiritual experience.
“I’m kind of a skeptical believer. So I believe in it, obviously [otherwise], I wouldn’t be doing it, but, I’m always like, was that a ghost? Did I actually see that, so I questioned myself too,” stated Stephens.
Owner of Chattanooga Ghost Tour, Amy Petulla, explained why Chattanooga is a hot spot for spiritual activity. “You know, a lot of people think that it’s because of the Civil War, but quite honestly, a lot of the ghosts are just because there are a lot of murders here,” she stated.
Stephens, a certified Ghost Hunter, is an employee at Chattanooga Ghost Tours. She explained, “Working here, it’s a lot easier I think for me because I can build rapport with the spirits, hang out with them and get to know them. But it’s fun to get to do what I love.”
Stephens has had many different experiences with the paranormal, but explains it doesn’t really scare her anymore. She explains all experiences are different, some may include things she wasn’t expecting, but she is used to it all.
While their tours take visitors to different haunted spots through Chattanooga, the hunt takes place on UTC’s campus.
“UTC has a ton of ghosts. There used to be a medical school there, and their rules were that the medical students had to come up with their own cadavers. And there just happened to be a Pauper’s Cemetery over there, so you can guess where they were getting their cadavers,” Petulla stated. “Right now, they think about 80% of the graves in the Pauper’s Cemetery are now empty because of that. And, you know, some of those ghosts are not very happy, so they’re still hanging out. So that’s just some of the reasons.”
The hunt starts at Paton Chapel where visitors are shown different equipment that they are welcomed to use throughout the night. At the chapel, visitors will also meet ghosts named Monk and Anna. Both spirits are said to have committed suicide in different areas of the chapel.
Stephens has a favorable relationship with Monk. She stated, “ I absolutely love him. He likes to flirt with the ladies. He’s a very big flirtatious ghost. And he’ll give you a kiss on the cheek, you can actually feel it too. It’s crazy. Like your face kind of goes numb and tingles a little bit.…He’s one of the most interactive spirits I think I’ve interacted with on the tour.”
Petulla stated, “Anna, the, the Suicide Bride ghost over at the Chapel is probably one of my favorite ghosts just because she has a lot of personality.”
Stephens explained there are risks to ghost hunting, which is why it is important to remain respectful and know the risks around the supernatural.
“Make sure that you have your spiritual safety, your regular safety, and have fun, but try to get the history correct,” Stephens stated. “I’ve had people who run around and they don’t really get the history correct and that I think can be really disrespectful.” She also advises others not to provoke spirits .
Stephens explained that there are many possible scientific reasons someone may think they are experiencing something paranormal. “A lot of times you can have high electromagnetic fields, which can make you hallucinate and make you feel like you have nausea. You can feel like your skin is crawling. You can have the feeling of being touched. That can actually scare a lot of people. ”
She explained she loves investigating, but she appreciates the part of her job that allows her to help people feel comfortable and safe in their homes. Although there may be scientific explanations to paranormal activity, she can still explain those cases to those who reach out to her for help. However, if they are experiencing something paranormal that the church won’t help them with, she will.
UTC’s Local Legend
Written by Ali Lemmons
A wedding day, a jilted bride and a haunted chapel. As the story goes, a young bride named Anna was set to be married in Patten Chapel—a building that sits at the heart of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s campus even today.
Sadly, poor Anna’s husband-to-be never showed up. He left her at the altar on the day of her wedding, and she was so overcome with depression that she hung herself in the chapel.
Allegedly, her spirit haunts the chapel and the bridal suite where people say she can still be heard wailing from her heartbreak.
Today, Patten Chapel is still a staple piece of architecture on UTC’s campus. With its dark brick exterior, rich oak doors, and stained glass window displayed above the entrance, it’s a beautiful symbol of the university’s history.
“It’s over a hundred years old and that’s honestly rare for any university, especially a public university,” said Laura Cagle, the director of stewardship and donor events at UTC. “We’re lucky to have a piece of our history that goes so far back.”
Previously, Cagle worked in the Chancellor’s Office where she managed the chapel for around three years.
Patten Chapel began construction in 1918 and was later finished and dedicated to the university in 1919, according to Cagle.
When the university was founded in 1886, it was known as Chattanooga University. It was a private college that had religious ties and connections with the Methodist church.
Patten Chapel was built in honor of John Alanson Patten, the trustee and treasurer of Chattanooga University. The chapel was given to the university as a gift by Patten’s wife and children, according to the plaques inside the chapel.
“I think part of the reason for building a chapel on campus is to have worship services and things like that when it was still a Methodist institution,” said Cagle.
It wasn’t until 1969 that the University of Chattanooga affiliated with the University of Tennessee and became officially known as UTC.
Currently, the chapel is used for everything from choir concerts to memorial services and more.
Despite the story of the jilted bride, the chapel is most often booked for weddings. Usually, the chapel is booked up to a year to a year and a half in advance, said Cagle.
“I never got the impression that couples touring the chapel were worried about that or that it was on their radar,” she said. “I think it’s one of those traditional folklore stories of campus that has kinda fallen by the wayside as people have moved on.”
In addition to the frequent weddings, Cagle has also known couples to get engaged at Patten Chapel or come back years later to take photos with their families, she said.
“A lot of students make it to graduation and they’ve never even been in the chapel which always blows my mind because it’s stunning and gorgeous,” said Cagle. “I recommend every student to at least walk through it because it’s really incredible.”
Both the rich history and the stories that students spread surrounding the chapel make it an important piece of UTC’s campus.
“I think Patten Chapel is a gem on campus. It’s rich with history and lots of stories—both good and bad,” said Cagle. “It’s a really unique piece of our campus history that I wish more people knew about.”
Meet the Storytellers
Kylee Boone is a visual storyteller studying Communication at UT Chattanooga. She utilizes her leadership qualities as the Social Media and Advertising Director for The University Echo and as the co-founder of her nonprofit organization with Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home. She hopes to one day work in social media management and inspire others through her work in storytelling. For questions or collaboration, please contact email@example.com.
Sarah Chesek is a senior Communication major at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Currently, she holds the title of Head News Editor for The University Echo, UTC’s student newspaper; she also focuses on writing for Rising Rock Media. Sarah is a hard working and compassionate individual, who is passionate about civil rights issues and hopes to bring light to them through her writing. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julia (Allie) English is an aspiring documentarian with a passion for visual storytelling. She currently studies both Communications and Environmental Science with the goal of bringing awareness to social and environmental injustices. Allie served as an Assistant Photo Editor with the University Echo and as an intern with Cypress Magazine. She believes in the power of visual narration to promote empathy and community. For collaboration, please reach out to email@example.com.
Madelyn McCrary is a senior Communication major with a minor in Creative Writing at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, who is graduating in May of 2023. Madelyn is an audiographer and writer who enjoys multimedia storytelling that entertains her audience and sparks discourse within her community. She has a passion for podcasting, writing, and photojournalism. For questions and collaboration, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ali Lemmons is a junior communications major with a minor in computer science at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Ali primarily calls herself a writer, but has a newfound passion for photojournalism. Professionally, Ali works as a content writer for Lemmtec, a website development company, and has done freelance writing for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. To contact Ali about her work, she can be reached at email@example.com.
Taylor Carmody is a Senior at UT Chattanooga majoring in Communication with a minor in Child and Family Studies. She has a passion for storytelling through still photos. She is a volunteer leader and is on Student Staff with Chattanooga Young Life. Taylor is a hard working and compassionate individual. She hopes to graduate and continue to share unheard stories of those in the community. To connect or collaborate with Taylor, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Noah Fernandez is a visual storyteller through photojournalism. He is studying theatre and communications at UTC. He utilizes his skills learned through theatre to engage people in the real world in order to tell exciting stories. For any storytelling opportunities contact him at email@example.com.