History of the Baker-Peters House in Knoxville, TN

The Baker-Peters House in Knoxville, Tennessee is one of the city’s historic landmarks. It’s Civil War era architecture stands out amidst the hustle of Kingston Pike on the west side of town.

The surroundings of the house have changed significantly since its construction in 1840. Initially centered on acres of farmland, the building now resides within one of Knoxville’s busiest commerce centers.

Dr. James Harvey Baker was the original owner of the home, and lived peacefully as such from 1840 on until the American Civil War broke out in 1861.

Many unconfirmed accounts claim that Dr. Baker was a Confederate sympathizer. What we do know for a fact is that his son Abner was enlisted with the Confederate army.

In the waning half of the War, Dr. Baker began treating wounded Confederate soldiers at his home. In 1864, Knoxville’s postmaster, William Hall, revealed this information to Union soldiers in the area.

These Union soldiers then rushed to the Baker House, finding that Dr. Baker had barricaded himself in his bedroom upstairs. The soldiers fired several shots through the door, mortally wounding Dr. Baker. This door has since been moved downstairs, but can still be seen in the house today, with the original bullet holes still very visible.

After the War, Abner Baker returned to Knoxville, where he sought out William Hall to avenge his father’s death. Abner shot and killed the postmaster. Shortly after, several of Hall’s accomplices ambushed Abner, who was hanged for the killing.

These tragic events have left many feeling as though the Baker House is one of Knoxville’s most haunted locations. Several people have claimed to see apparitions of Abner leaning on the railing of the staircase and in windows while standing outside. Others have felt a cold hand grab their shoulder from behind, only to turn and find nothing was there.

As if these tragedies were not enough, the house has an even darker portion of it’s history encased within the walls of its basement. Dr. Baker was a slave owner, and the slave quarters were in the dark confines of the lowest level of the house.

A stairwell linked Dr. Baker’s bedroom directly to the slave quarters so that he could check on them at any point during the night. We have been told that James Baker may not have been the most kind slave owner.

With our investigation, we hoped to find some kind of confirmation of the truth behind these stories and hopefully affirm any outstanding speculation. We think you’ll be intrigued by what we found here.

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