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- [Narrator] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by... - [Phil] I'm Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham. Here in Cookeville, Tennessee's college town, we are bold, fearless, confident, and kind. Tech prepares students for careers by making everyone's experience personal. We call that living wings up. Learn more at tntech.edu. - [Speaker 1] Discover Tennessee trails and byways. Discover Tennessee's adventure, cuisine, history, and more made in Tennessee experiences showcased among these 16 driving trails. More at TNTrailsAndByways.com. - This time on Tennessee Crossroads, we'll do some jail time in Huntsville in a museum, thankfully. Then we'll take you to Memphis for one of the finest steaks in the bluff city and to an inn in Gatlinburg with one of the best views in the Smoky Mountains. Hi everybody, I'm Joe Elmore. Those stories and more on this edition of Tennessee Crossroads. Welcome. You've heard the phrase, "Nice place to visit, but I wouldn't wanna live there." But our first story takes us to such a place on the Upper Cumberland Plateau. That's where two adventurous women revived a landmark building in the town of Huntsville. No big deal, except this building happens to be a supposedly haunted jailhouse. It was built in 1904, and for more than a century, it housed some of the worst inmates in Scott County. Some people swear their spirits still reside here. Today, the Scott County Jail is a museum, one that attracts curious visitors to this remote East Tennessee community. - We've had numerous people come in and say they're on a jail tour or a historic jail tour. And so we really welcome those individuals because this jail is unlike any that you've seen. It is literally a castle here in the middle of Sky County. The day tours allows you to really experience the history. The after dark tours allows you to experience the paranormal. And we can honestly say that this is a very haunted building. We were just ranked as one of the top 10 haunted locations in Tennessee, and we think that the spirits here just love to tell their stories. - [Joe] Kristy Sumner and close friend Miranda Young, have shared a passion for history and paranormal research. So in 2021, they made a deal with a local mayor to unlock the jail in the name of tourism. - [Kristy] 'Cause what can go wrong with opening a museum in the middle of a pandemic? - [Joe] Undeterred, they were soon busy gathering artifacts that reflected the uncanny history of this building. - We've had a lot of donors donate different items, put things on loan. So anywhere from detectives, former inmates have given us items. - [Miranda] Several of the weapons were made here, several of the shanks. The others came from Brushy Mountain Prison, as well as Morgan County Correctional Facility. - [Joe] So they could make a weapon out of just about anything then in the prison. - [Miranda] Absolutely everything from toothbrushes to spoons, to pieces of glass. You know, one of my favorites that's in there is the plaster balls. - [Joe] Miranda had a successful marketing and graphic arts career in Chattanooga before coming back to help revive this hometown landmark. - I've always been interested in history, and buildings, and so I can remember looking over and really wondering what it looked like on the inside. And honestly wondering if there was any paranormal activity over here from a very young age. So these are the original jail keys, and they all have these really cool notches that's on the top of 'em. The notches here, they correspond with the notches in each of our cell doors. And the jailer was able to fill the keys and unlock the door without having to take the eye off his inmate. - [Visitor] There was four of us trying to get out. - [Joe] The prisoner cells are all upstairs with the second floor reserved for the trustees. - So trustees were inmates who were essentially trusted to do things. So pick up road trash, work on deputies' cars, different construction projects. So they had a little bit more leeway than those that were up on the maximum security level. Those more violent offenders would be housed up in the maximum security levels. So murderers, rapists, violent criminals, those that were either awaiting their day in courts or awaiting to be moved to a maximum security facility like Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, or Morgan State Correctional Facility. There are several design mechanisms that are implemented to ensure the jailer's safety. So for example, each of these doors actually swing this way and they're stopped by the table and that ensures that the jailer has enough time to get back to the main door without the inmates rushing them. Now this cell would've been the women's cell. So you can see it's segregated from the men's cell block. Designed originally to hold four inmates. Not uncommon to have 10 or 12 ladies in here. Summer, you're hot, the winter, you're cold, bugs, snakes, bats, rats. This is not a place you wanted to be. - This was a popular room in the old days, the drunk tank. Believe it or not, all drunk tanks in the country were painted drunk tank pink. It was supposed to calm the prisoner down. Trust me, I'm sober as a judge. So what about all that supernatural activity? Well, it's attracted numerous paranormal researchers. Miranda and Kristy say it's just part of an average day or night in the jailhouse. - It is very routine for us to be sitting here and you'll hear somebody walking upstairs or you'll hear whistling after dark, when Miranda and I just wanna kind of sit upstairs and see if we can talk to some of our spirits, we'll actually hear men's voices, when she and I are the only two people in the building. - I was locking up and I ended up hearing somebody humming on the stairs. It was just this deep, rich male hum. I wasn't sure what I was hearing until all of a sudden it cleared its throat. And I reached out to my business partner and I said, "Hey, could you check the security camera footage?" When she checked the footage, we didn't catch the hum, but we did catch two voices. One said, "There she is." And the other said, "Not so loud next time." - [Disembodied Voice] Not so loud next time. - [Joe] Well, if you should travel here, there's no guarantee of any ghostly encounters, but you're likely to enjoy a hauntingly entertaining visit. You'll meet Sally, the celebrator jailhouse mascot, and you'll vicariously discover what it was like to spend some involuntary time in this landmark jail. - We've had several former inmates who spent time in here, just come in and want to take a day tour and really reminisce about what they did here or the time they spent here. And yeah, we're really excited to have 'em. - Oh my gosh, what an amazing place. - Well, like I said, nice place to visit. - Yeah. - Well thanks for tuning in. I'm sure you recognize my friend and fellow producer, Laura Faber. She's joining me now to tell you about our Keep Crossroads Traveling campaign for 2024. - That's right. Thank you, Joe. And thank you, our loyal viewers for sticking with us. It's that one time of year when we encourage you to support Tennessee Crossroads and keep us out there finding great stories to bring you each week. We wanna start 2024 out on a firm foundation to ensure that we can keep the Crossroads crew on the road. And that's where you come in. Over the next four weeks, we'll be asking you to support the show. And if we can get 450 donations at any level, we'll keep Crossroads on the air during our March membership drive. We are also excited to announce an upcoming event right here at MPT that has guaranteed to raise your spirits. - [Ed Jones] You are invited to Tennessee Crossroads Annual Whiskey Tasting Saturday, February 24th, 2024, showcasing some of the best whiskey producers from Tennessee. Each distillery will feature two to three products with many of them hard to find. For tickets, use your phone to scan the QR code on your screen or go to wnpt.org/events. - We would love to have you attend the tasting and meet the Crossroads crew here at NPT on Saturday, February 24th. For ticket information and other details, just visit our website at wnpt.org/events. And Joe, I was here last year, you were here last year. - Oh yeah. - It was a blast. - I had a blast and looking forward to it this time. And we're looking forward to joining with the crew to express in person how much we appreciate the support of our viewers. You've made Tennessee Crossroads one of the most watched, locally produced programs in the entire PBS system. We're honored to be a part of your lives and wanna say thank you because we couldn't have produced this show for 37 years without your loyal support. Please call the number on your screen to make a pledge or online at tennesseecrossroads.org/donate. - Wow, 37 years, and you've been here since day one. - Yeah. - I am so proud to say that I've been around for the last few seasons, but Joe, how did Crossroads get started? - Ah, a grasshopper. It was long ago in a galaxy far away. Well, anyway, here's a little clip that takes us back to the beginning. Hello everyone. I'm Joe Elmore. And I heard from a friend that at WDCN was starting a magazine show and made a phone call or two, and when they offered me the job, I thought about it for about 15 seconds, and said yes. I remember when we were sitting around, Al Voecks, Jerry Thompson and myself, Susan Thomas as well, talking about what the show was gonna be about. We didn't really know. We thought we might do some kind of more serious stories, but it turned out the viewers dictated what our show was gonna be about. We kind of found our footing after about a year and realized that well, people want to know what's going on in Tennessee and the people, the places and so forth. And that has sort of led to what we are today. Well, they say ratings aren't everything, but you do want people to watch what you do. And the fact that this show is so highly rated, is really gratifying. And that makes it all worthwhile. And I think it's because even with so many channels and so many options out there, people love to know what's going on in their backyard that's good and positive. It's all about everything that's good about Tennessee, and it's always gonna be that way. - And that's how we got here. Just think of all the people and places we visited over the years. If you value the wonderful stories that you see on Crossroads, please help us continue to make them possible. And when you do, we have a few ways to thank you for keeping Crossroads traveling. - [Ed] You can help keep Crossroads traveling with a financial gift that's just right for you. At $60 a year or $5 a month, we'll thank you with this Tennessee Crossroads trucker hat or beanie. At the $72 level or $6 a month, you can show your support with this polyester blend, short sleeved T-shirt, our limited edition T-shirt featuring the art of Steven Sloan can be yours for $8 a month, or choose the limited edition hoodie for $13 a month. Finally, we'd love to see you at our annual whiskey tasting on Saturday, February 24th at NPT. Tickets are $65 or $125 for the VIP package, which includes special tastings, parking, and an extra hour of fun. Visit wnpt.org/events for details and thank you for helping to keep Crossroads traveling. - Hey, did you notice the incredible design on the limited edition T-shirt and hoodie? Well, that's the work of talented Nashville muralist, Stephen Sloan, who coincidentally appeared on a story we did on the Wall's Art Park in Waverly a while back, I guess. Neither that segment nor any we've done would be possible without you. Our viewers have kept us on the air and on the road these years. Your generosity allows us to continue to bring you incredible and heartwarming stories from across our great state. You are an essential member of our crew. It's a partnership, a partnership that I hope will last for many more years to come. Please pick up your phone or go online and keep Crossroads traveling. So thank you very much. - Joe is right. You are an incredibly important member of our team, and we need you now. Help us meet our goal of 450 contributions to keep Crossroads traveling in 2024. Just pick an amount that's right for you and enjoy some of our great ways to say thanks. We can't produce this show without your support. Give us a call, or visit online at tennesseecrossroads.org/donate. Now to head back out on the road with a new story that you made possible. Where are we heading next, Joe? - Well, Laura, I'm gonna tell you. We're headed to the Bluff City. Danielle Allen took a trip to her hometown there recently, and she grabbed a bite at a local favor called The Side Porch Steak House. - [Danielle] The Mid-South may be known for its barbecue, but where do you go for a juicy steak? You head to the heart of Bartlett and stop at the Side Porch Steak House. - This is a Steak House that is not too fancy, not too casual. You can come however you want. And we've got a great variety of steaks using the same recipes that they've been using since 1976, since it opened. And it's just a good place to be. - [Danielle] If anyone knows the ins and outs of the Side Porch Steak House. It's the business manager, Emily Cook. She says the friendly atmosphere keeps people coming back. And of course the menu does too. - [Emily] Our grilled chicken breast is really good and you can get that plain or with bacon and cheese, 'cause bacon and cheese makes everything better. We have pork chops and we have fried and grilled shrimp. We have salmon and mahi mahi. - [Danielle] And the steaks, well, there's a secret ingredient for that. - [Emily] We have a proprietary marinade that we put on our steaks, and our chicken, and our pork chops, but people really love it. And we get asked for the recipe a lot, and we don't share. - Of course, everyone comes here for the steaks, but that's not the only reason they're walking through the door. It's also the croutons. - [Emily] It's not a hard crispy crouton like you'd have in a salad. It's about this big, it's a slice of a roll. And they're toasted with butter and garlic salt, and they're pretty tasty. - [Danielle] And who's responsible for this yummy goodness? That would be Mr. Gary, also known as the Crouton King. He makes sure every batch is just as mouthwatering as the last one. - What I rub 'em down with, it is a mixture of butter and garlic powder. And I have to cut these here at a certain length, or should I say size? Because we want them to be about like that. We don't want 'em to be huge or too small. They ready to go in the oven, about eight minutes, and that's it. That's Side Porch croutons. - [Danielle] With beloved items like the croutons, the Side Porch Steak House stays busy, but Emily doesn't manage it alone. She owns the business with five others. They're all friends who raised their kids together and they're all passionate about the restaurant. That's why they jumped into action when they found out it was closing in 2021. - [Emily] It happened kind of in a strange way. One of the owners texted out that, "Gosh, I'd really love to buy Side Porch. I hear that it's for sale." And then another couple said, "How much?" And another one said, "Are you serious?" And within a week they had walked through and we, I guess, made an offer on it pretty fast. And it was just to save it. This is an icon in Bartlett and it's a special thing to the people of Bartlett. And we wanted to save it. - [Danielle] The first step was buying the Side Porch Steak House. Next it was time for renovations. The group did extensive work to the building while also honoring its long history. - [Emily] The house was actually built as a single family residence in 1936, and it went through lots of owners, but at one point, the Telegraph operator lived here, and this was the Telegraph office. And a mayor was here with his family for a while, and it converted from a single family residence to Side Porch in 1976. - [Danielle] When the restaurant reopened with a new look and the same cherished menu, the community was overjoyed, including Rebecca Lane. This was her family's home when she was a child. - Oh, my mother. My mother would be shocked to know that there is a bar in our house. Where the bar is, was my sister's and I bedroom. We had two twin beds and a little half bath up there. And then the side porch was not there. It was a carport. - [Danielle] But no matter the changes over the years, the feeling remains the same. - I tell you, I was so thrilled that they, of course, someone else owned it before this group bought it. But I was so thrilled that they didn't tear it down. I mean, it's just my home. I'm sorry. It really means a lot to me. Yeah. - [Emily] We've been humbled by the community supporting us and continuing to come out. We have customers who are here every week, and it's been fun to do it, and to do this business with our friends. And we really have a community atmosphere here. And it's just been nice to continue the legacy. - Tennessee is lucky to have the great Smoky Mountains right in our own backyard. Lots of people stay Gatlinburg when visiting and they love the hustle and bustle. But did you know there's another side of Gatlinburg, a quieter, peaceful part of town that boasts one of the nicest bed and breakfast we've ever seen? Laura Faber takes us inside the Mountain View Inn. - [Laura] Every year, the Great Smoky Mountains call millions of travelers to come experience their beauty. We found a perfect place to take it all in. It's in Gatlinburg, but away from the crowds and busy downtown. This inn covers you in comfort, a warm personal touch, great food, an incredible view, and it's dog friendly too. - [Guest] You're such a good boy. Look at those eyes. - We had bought this land that had such a gorgeous view. We did think, "Will people come this far out?" Because at that time, we were really kind of isolated. Now we're, not so much, but we took a chance on it. - [Laura] That was 30 years ago. Since then, Hippensteal's Mountain View Inn has become the go-to place to stay for people from all over the country. Vern and Lisa Hippensteal are the proprietors. - [Lisa] I think their lives are so hectic that it's just a respite. They come, they relax, sometimes they just don't even leave. - [Vern] That and the view. We'll get up at breakfast, fixing breakfast, and we get up early and you'll walk out on the porches and people will be sitting on their porches just watching the sunrise. - [Lisa] It's just a home away from home. - [Laura] Vern is a working artist. His watercolor painting showing the splendor of the Smokies have been collected in this area for decades. - [Vern] This is the green that you actually see in nature. - [Laura] After a career as a dental hygienist, Lisa finally convinced Vern to combine his art and her love of providing people with a place to stay. Vern designed the current Mountain View Inn around the original hotel. - The original hotel was designed by Hubert Bebb, who was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright's. And when we found out the hotel was gonna be torn down, I wanted to use the same lines of the original hotel. - This is one of 12 rooms that you can choose from here at the end. No two are alike, they're all decorated in a unique way. They do have two things in common, though. Vern's artwork is all over the walls. And they all share this incredible view. From the rocking chairs on every porch, you can see the Greenbrier Pinnacle to your left, Mount Le Conte straight ahead, and Mount Harrison to your right, for sunrise and sunset. Every bedroom has a wall of windows, king size bed, TV, and a fireplace, and an oversized whirlpool tub in a private bath. They're decorated based on a theme and one of Vern's paintings, with names like "Into the Woods", "Spring Beauties", and "Lady of the Mountains". - We want you to feel at home. You can roam around the house anytime of the day or night. Enjoy. If you need something and somebody's not available, you just find it. - [Laura] The library is full of games and books to borrow. The gathering area downstairs is homey filled with antiques and gorgeous stained glass lamps. The elegant black and white checkered foyer and dining room are filled with light from the many windows and of course a mountain view. - Add some more milk in there. - [Laura] And every morning, Lisa and her staff make a homemade breakfast. - Probably our favorite is called Eggs Hippensteal. And it's homemade sourdough bread, and it's grilled, then we fry eggs, and do bacon, and cheese sauce, and tomatoes, and sprouts on top. So it's all kind of stacked up pretty. It's served with baked apples, cinnamon apples, and fresh fruit. And then we serve dessert after breakfast. - The bread is my wife's homemade bread. - [Lisa] I was determined to get chocolate in everything, so we made pumpkin bread and put chocolate chips in it. - It's lovely because we've done this for 30 years and many of our guests have been coming for 30 years. And we watched them when they go through their period where they had to hike every trail in the park. They would get up, they would be on the trail the minute breakfast was over. And as we get over, then you'd see 'em, they had to get in the park, but they'd drive. They would no longer hike. And then it got to the point where, "Well, we're just gonna stay at the inn. We've done all that. We don't have to do it anymore." - [Laura] Vern and Lisa Hippensteal don't have an exit plan. This is their home, and everyone is welcome. - [Lisa] We feel so blessed because most people don't get to do what they love to do and enjoy. And we've done it now for 30 years, and it just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter. - Well, that's gonna do it for this edition of Tennessee Crossroads. Thanks for joining us. Hey, I got three requests. First, join us on our website, tennesseecrossroads.org, where you could download that PBS app. Join us next week here for the show. And please help keep crossroads traveling. Thank you. - [Narrator] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by... - [Phil] I'm Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham. Here in Cookeville Tennessee's college town, we are bold, fearless, confident, and kind. Tech prepares students for careers by making everyone's experience personal. We call that living wings up. Learn more at tntech.edu. - [Speaker 1] Discover Tennessee trails and byways. Discover Tennessee's adventure, cuisine, history, and more made in Tennessee experiences showcased among these 16 driving trails. More at TNTrailsAndByways.com.
January 18, 2024
Season 37 | Episode 23
Joe Elmore tours the Historic Scott County Jail. Danielle Allen visits her hometown and a local favorite the Side Porch Steakhouse. And Laura Faber finds a room with a fantastic view at Hippensteal's Mountain View Inn.