An Engagement Session With a Ghost Story: Sami and Matt

One of the issues with engagement sessions is when to do them. Sometimes things get busy or the season does not cooperate with you. That latter is the case with Sami and Matt, who wanted a beautiful snowy scene but not having the resources to fly us all to British Columbia or the Swiss alps meant no snow. :(

So I suggested an indoor shoot at one of the grandest historical homes in Knoxville: Bleak House. Bleak House was the home of the Armstrong family. Built in 1858, it was indeed named after the novel “Bleak House” by Charles Dickens. In 1863, during the Siege of Knoxville, the Confederate general James Longstreet made it his headquarters. The Armstrong family were basically held as hostages on its second floor and there is the delightful story that one day Mrs. Armstrong had had enough and started coming down the stairs. A Confederate soldier fired into the staircase as a warning and she hastily beat a retreat back up! Today, you can place your finger into the hole on the tread from that shot and yes, still feel the bullet inside.

General Longstreet only squatted there for a few months before he realized the battle had turned and retreated. However, three sharpshooters remained in the tower of the house and kept firing at the Union troops. The Union responded with a barrage of artillery and the three men died in the tower room. Bloodstains can still be seen on the walls where the sharpshooters died. And some years after their deaths, a friend came and drew their faces on the wall, adding the inscription: “Men that were shot up here.”



Is Bleak House haunted? Maybe. It is said Mrs. Armstrong still walks the halls, miffed at a bunch of rebels keeping her upstairs. The tombstone - but not the grave itself - of a young Confederate hanged for spying is in the front of the building, and supposedly he walks about, hoping for a reunion with his actual, but unknown, burial spot and his grave marker. And, of course, the three sharpshooters are still said to be around. Now, that last one I can believe as I have been shooting at another time on the second floor and there were noises coming from the tower, where just me and my client were the only people in the house.

Back to our lovely couple. Matt was thrilled by the setting as he is serving our country in the US Army and enjoyed the home’s military history. Sami grew up with a father in the service, so there was that connection. And, as I intended, it gave them a chance to have a wintertime engagement shoot without so much “winter” in the scene. It helped, too, that this couple’s natural enthusiasm and bonhomie made the day brighter and warmer!

Check them out!

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Go and tour Bleak House, too, when you have the chance.

And say hi to the guys upstairs for me . . .