For folks in Williamson, the “old hospital” is one of the most talked-about buildings in town, though it’s not been in use for years. Wes Wilson, the managing director of the Tug Valley CVB, knew that the building had “an incredible amount of potential.” The CVB Board approached the owners of Williamson Memorial Hospital in 2018 about doing something with the old hospital. “At the time,” Wes says, “We weren’t sure what exactly we could pull off...after much discussion, we settled on doing historical paranormal tours.”
The 2018 tours are described by Wes as being “an overwhelming success”. People from around the country visited, and 6 of the 7 nights sold out. In total, more than a thousand people flocked to Williamson for a tour of the old hospital.
Letting the Building Tell Its Story
Organizers chose to keep the tours focused on the real history of the hospital instead of opting for scares alone, and Wes feels this was part of their success. “While there were some theatrics and creepy scenes, we wanted to stay true to what the building
was and let it tell its story.” Stories from the hospital range from the strange (a doctor bringing his horse to the 4th floor for surgery) to the scary (a man was once thrown from his room on the second story).
Though Wes says that the response has been overwhelmingly positive, he says some people had creepy experiences of their own that made them question whether or not the hospital was truly haunted.
Bringing History Back To Life
For Wes and the other folks on the CVB Board, it’s about the history. “So many people’s lives began and ended in that building. For a lot of folks, it’s their way of reconnecting with their past or visiting a place that is tied to them in some way.” The paranormal tours are a unique way to explore the history of Williamson. “I think an event like this is very important to our area and specifically folks in Williamson because we’re carrying the legacy of what our city was built on.
We’re celebrating the things of the past...this event specifically is a great example of showing how we as a community can come together and bring new life into an old place. Having the opportunity to bring history "back to life" was something we all felt was so special for us.”