After losing a son in the Civil War, grieving New York businessman Felix Baillet moved his wife and three daughters to Coffee County and settled in Tullahoma. The Baillets bought a lot on South Jackson where a school that was used as a Civil War hospital once stood.
After building a two-story Italianate house, Felix’s health quickly deteriorated. He struggled to get around and relied on a wheelchair until his death a short time later. After his wife Affie died in 1888, their three daughters inherited the home.
Over the years the three girls, Jennie, Emma, and Affa Ann became respected artists, writers and milliners in Tullahoma. Though the three siblings never married, they were involved in the community and ran a successful hat store in town. The three spinsters lived together in their family’s home until the last sister, Affa Ann passed away in the house in 1934.
The old Baillet place became an apartment building for several years until the 1960s when city leaders began talking about tearing it down. In 1968 the Tullahoma Fine Arts Center saved the old home from demolition and turned into an art center. In 1992 the center expanded and a new wing was being built. During the project, construction came to a complete stop when crews found a human skull on the property. Experts were brought in to excavate the site and work began once the remains were removed.
It’s believed that the old house is inhabited by a soldier as well as some of the members of the Baillet family. Employees and visitors alike have stories about strange things that happen in the Tullahoma Art Center. Some have heard strange noises in the building, while others have randomly smelled gunpowder and cigars from time to time.
But the strangest stories are often told by children who have claimed to see a friendly older man sitting in a wheelchair. Oddly enough, he’s never been seen by adults.