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Published February 2, 2016

CMT’s Southbound Explores Raleigh History, Legends, Art

I was as surprised as anyone to get an e-mail from a Production Assistant for a CMT television show called Southbound. The crew travels around the South, with adventures taking them up the highest mountains, down the fastest race tracks, sipping the tastiest sweet tea, and meeting the trendiest artists.

Since Candid Slice features a lot of the strangest things our city has to offer–hidden history, ghost stories, and abandoned buildings–the team at CMT had been using this site to come up with some cool ideas for places to film when they came into town.

Every writer wants to know their words can somehow impact the world around them. So I was more than happy to show the crew of Southbound around Raleigh’s historic buildings and local haunts. My role? To lure host Allison Demarcus, former pageant star and beauty queen, into either ghostly or urban exploration dreamworlds.

Seriously — every adventure is better with a television crew behind you. So while the Southbound team was in Raleigh, I was happy to be a temporary part of their traveling adventures. Here’s where we went:

 

Dos Taquitos Xoco at The Creamery

Very little has been written about the paranormal legends at Dos Taquitos on Glenwood South. In fact, many Raleigh-ites aren’t even aware of the stories. However, Dos Taquitos proudly flaunts its supernatural connections–even the decor is specifically reminiscent of Dia de los Muertos. There are skeletons everywhere. I wouldn’t want to be in there alone at night.

The workers shared many stories about their personal experiences with unusual knocking on the walls, dishes flying off shelves, and whispered voices. In fact, Debb Kiser, a hostess there who runs a local paranormal investigation group called ASAP Paranormal, said that even visitors often mention hearing their name whispered in their ears while they eat.

The women’s restroom, in particular, is known to be especially haunted.

I won’t explain too much more — it’s better if you just watch the show!

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Speculation is this haunting may be a result of two deaths in the building. Others theorize the specters may be the remains of four prostitutes murdered by John Williams Jr. in 1995.

 

 

Heck-Andrews House

I love a good abandoned house, and this unique 147 year-old home on Blount Street has been closed to the public for more than a decade. Over those years, it’s collected its share of spooky stories, but this downtown gem’s true value is its trove of history. With a colorfully restored exterior, the inside has degraded into waste. I was absolutely stoked to go inside, a television crew following after.

The cold January air seemed stale inside the dusty time-capsule. High ceilings rose many feet above our heads, with intricately carved columns climbing the walls. Some walls were completely built of mirrors. Allison and I had to take the staircase one at a time, and stick close to the wall, so our weight wouldn’t cause the creaking wood to bow.

RELATED: A Clairvoyant Exploration Of Raleigh’s Heck-Andrews House.

As we explored, wide-eyed, I told stories about Gladys Perry, who once lived here with her mother. She became more reclusive after her mother passed away, although many people tell stories of seeing her in Cameron Village, dolled up with white powder foundation and rosy cheeks. Eventually, the state evicted her–for her own safety, as she was too old to care for herself. The house sat empty for years, as the state determined its fate. One state worker on the grounds that day explained to me, “We don’t want to keep it abandoned. But if we restore it and make it another office building, it’ll lose all its charm and history. Ideally, we’ve been hoping a historic society or an individual owner with a passion for restoration and preservation would buy it.”

If you want a far greater detail into the unique history of the Heck-Andrews house, you can read more about it at Goodnight Raleigh!

It’s been a happy ending for the Heck-Andrews house, as it recently sold to a group that ensures a bright future. Governor McCrory explained to the News & Observer, “Bringing the Heck-Andrews House back to life is a perfect example of Project Phoenix’s mission.”

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St. Agnes Hospital

The ruins of St. Agnes, with towering stone walls, hollowed window sockets, a carpet of ivy, and a ceiling of sky, are like a remnant from another world. It appears like a crumbling castle beside Historic Oakwood Cemetery. But it’s beautiful with the sunset beaming through those vacant windows.

RELATED: St. Agnes Hospital: Ruins Of Segregation In Raleigh.

The light was fading fast as we waited for security to come unlock the gates. After spending hours in the cold Heck-Andrews, the January wind was sinking into our bones. Allison and I, who could only wear a coat in between takes, turned off the shivers so we could tell the camera crew about this segregated black hospital that was once one of the highest quality in the country.

“Welcome to the glamorous life of television,” a crew member told me as I pulled my coat back on and tripped over a vine. I laughed.

We climbed around in the wild thicket of ivy and kudzu, exploring strange holes in the ground, and the carving of a face on the second story, where we could never reach it.

“Careful not to ruin the ruins!” someone joked as we climbed through holes in the walls.

CMT's Southbound Explores Raleigh History, Legends, Art - St. Agnes CMT's Southbound Explores Raleigh History, Legends, Art - St. Agnes - 1 CMT's Southbound Explores Raleigh History, Legends, Art - St. Agnes - 4

 

Second Breakfast

All cold, all tired, we piled into the CMT jeep to go back to rest and have food. We agreed on Hibernian on Glenwood South.

I felt like the Fellowship of the Ring, settling at a heavy log table by a zesty fire. Servers poured wine and we passed around buttery hummus dips and crusty bread. When our stout Irish food arrived, with the fire to warm us, we all discussed the day’s adventure.

I am grateful for the crew of Southbound. The entire day, as we explored new things, shared history and tales and lore, shivered in the cold — it felt like a nice step away from a normal day at the office. It was a day for adventure, captured on television. The next day I believe Allison learned how to spray paint and make graffiti art with a local artist named Bersk. Perhaps they tried the Butt-Kicking Machine at Angus Barn.

I wish this crew the best of luck on their future adventures! Thank you for letting me be part of the experience. And Raleigh, I hope their episode will make you proud of your city — all of our cool history, weird ghost stories, wild artists, and cozy hangouts. We’re a pretty great place.

Thanks for visiting, Southbound! We hope to see you again someday.

The episode will air Tuesday, March 15 at 10pm/9 central. Keep tabs on the Southbound website.

Photo credit: Tim Hardiman, Heather Leah

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    Heather

  • I sincerely believe that through the power of storytelling, I can make social issues become more than a set of statistics. My expertise is in community leadership, non-profit work, event coordinating, networking, and storytelling. My resume. All my articles.

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