Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rotherwood Mansion

This impressive home, located off of Netherland Inn Road in Kingsport, TN overlooking the Holston River, is known as the Rotherwood Mansion -- it was built by Rev. Fredrick Augustus Ross in 1818.  The history of the house is replete with stories of haunting ghosts, a cruel slavemaster, tragic romances and a howling 'Hound of Hell.' 

Rev. Ross had one daughter, Rowena, who became engaged to a man from a neighboring town -- he died on the day before his wedding when his fishing boat capsized on the Holston and he was drowned. Some reports say that she witnessed his death.  Two years later, Rowena married Edward Temple, but he soon died of yellow fever. Ten years after that, she again married, and gave birth to a daughter, Theodosia, but when her daughter was six, Rowena committed suicide. (Some accounts say she walked out on the river after hearing her dead fiance call to her and drown. Other stories say that it was her daughter's death that prompted the suicide). Soon after, locals reported seeing a "Lady in White" strolling the grounds in search of her first love.

Rev. Ross sold the estate to Joshua Phipps in 1847. Phipps, who was described as a cruel slave owner, had a reputation of being an evil and violent man. The end came in 1861 when Phipps was bedridden and a huge swarm of flies landed on his face, filling his mouth and nostrils, and suffocated him.  At his funeral, a huge black dog appeared (some say it jumped out of the coffin) -- and to this day still roams the property on stormy nights howling. The ghost of Mr. Phipps is said to roam the house at night, ripping the covers off of beds, and when those who had been sleeping look up, they are startled to see the ghost of Phipps standing that the foot of the bed laughing. 

Today, the house is privately owned and not available for public tour -- and my guess is that every boy scout and girl scout in northeast Tennessee has heard this ghost story told around a campfire.  :)


  1. The owner is a close relative. Like many other family members, I have spent many happy days and nights during the past quarter-century in both the mansion and the guest house, including wandering the grounds at all hours of the night. None of us have ever had the slightest supernatural experience of any kind there. No lady in white, no hound of hell, no moans, no bloodstains, no mysterious sights or sounds of any kind. What a bunch of crackpot nonsense some silly people are willing to believe while denying obvious scientific truths!

  2. About1993 my husband and I toured the mansion as we were considering purchasing the property. We were told about the old ghost stories that accompanied it. My plans were to finish the restoration started by the prior owners who,unfortunately, ran into serious money issues when one partner became ill and died. I had plans to operate it as a bed and breakfast but decided to stay in Alaska and build an upscale B&B there. Anonymous, I am glad you got to enjoy the property over the years.


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