Thursday Old Gray Cemetery Doors

In the spirit of the season and all things unhinged, I spent an afternoon strolling through the Old Gray Cemetery located in Knoxville, Tennessee. There was a slight chill in the air with the sun casting shadows in all the right places allowing for a beautiful day of door hunting…and a bit more. By the time I left this hallowed space, my heart was skipping a beat (or two) and I was done with cemetery doors.


The gates through which you can walk or drive to visit the Old Gray Cemetery.


A door behind a gate within an arch was the first to greet me at the entrance, so my adventure seemed promising!


The first of several private mausoleums on the property.

I was surprised to see this was a metal door when I got close. What drew me in was the fact that it was half underground and you can see from the second photo the rather steep steps to the right lead one to his or her final resting space. I even left my calling card at the door should anyone care to find this E’ville Woman!


These next doors I found quite intriguing. First,  it is hard to believe but upon closer inspection these two doors are the same very dark and aged doors in the above two photos. Second, I’ve never seen them before in any cemetery I’ve visited. What is a Receiving Vault? According to Wikipedia, during the mid-19th century Receiving Vaults came into use serving as temporary holding spaces for bodies during the colder months when the ground was too frozen for grave digging.  They were also used to store mass remains during times of epidemics until the bodies were deemed safe for handling. They could also provide a temporary place of rest for a body whose surviving family had not yet settled on final plans for their loved one.  With todays excavating and medical advances, these vaults have become obsolete but remain for us to ponder.

Stairs leading to no door?


I found a few of these tombs with doors that appear to be cemented over. Without a caretaker or guide to explain the reasoning I imagine the original door deteriorated over the years and this was the solution to protect from grave robbing.


And a final gate shot as I left Old Gray cemetery. I was happy to leave as I felt I was being watched while I exploring this place. There seemed to be more noise here than at other cemeteries I’ve wandered. More scurrying in the bushes and the trees, more noise in the air, even the leaves whipped around me as if directing me back onto the path toward these gates and out onto the street. Graveyards usually don’t feel creepy or scary to me because I am focused on their architectural beauty or searching for the very earliest headstone dates. Old Gray left me a bit unhinged so I listened to those who spoke, took the few photos I did, and exited the gates for a nearby coffee shop to collect my thoughts.


Upon further reflection of my day in Old Gray, I poked around on-line and am reading about the suggestion that this cemetery is haunted. Are they all haunted simply because of who ‘lives’ there? All I know is I walked away not wanting to go back alone. I now am second guessing placing my card at that tomb door…

And now getting back on track, jump over to Norm and the other bloggers from around the globe who no doubt have shared some terrific Thursday Door photos of their own. Happy Door hunting to all!




  1. It’s it odd how some places can give you the willies for no specific reason. How fitting that it should be a cemetery … especially so close to Hallowe’en 😉

    Old graveyards are such interesting places to wander around and take photos. It’s a great start when there are beautiful gates at the entrance.

    Receiving vaults are still very much in use in the North where I’m originally from because the winters are too harsh to cut the ground. My father passed away in the winter a number of years ago, and although we had the funeral a few days after his passing, the graveside service for his burial didn’t occur until June when they started cutting the ground again.
    Having said that, the receiving vaults in the North don’t come close to being as impressive looking as the ones you found!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is so interesting Joanne! From what I read online it appeared that these vaults have gone by the wayside because we have such powerful digging machines today. So you must see these Receiving Vaults in the cemeteries you visit? I now am on the hunt for these ‘treasures’…and I look forward to you sharing your finds in the future!!! Thanks again for your personal history as it pertains to this post Joanne. And yes, this particular spot scared the bajeebies out of me!


      • The North lacks the history that many of the cemeteries in the south would have, so the vaults are really just prefab ‘barns’ covered in aluminum siding. They’re pretty nondescript and not interesting like the ones you have found.

        Liked by 1 person

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