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“Beautiful Home-Unprofessional Guides”

Woodruff-Fontaine House
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Woodruff-Fontaine House Museum Admission
Ranked #43 of 154 things to do in Memphis
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: An elegant, 16-room mansion built in 1870 and featuring period furnishings and mannequins displaying the fashions of the era.
Level Contributor
99 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“Beautiful Home-Unprofessional Guides”
Reviewed March 16, 2014

After seeing this historic house featured on a recent episode of Ghost Hunters, and being West TN residents, we decided we wanted to tour it. We have toured many historic homes throughout the South and this one has some of the finest mouldings and details we have seen. However, the tour staff leaves much to be desired. We were greeted by a very friendly middle-aged black lady who checked us in and was put in the position of begining our tour because the official guide, Ruth, failed to ever show up. She gave us a rather scattered tour of the downstairs, all the while looking for the evasive Ruth. Finally she led us upstairs and left us on the second floor landing while she found Ruth in the bathroom who informed her, as an excuse for her absence, the details of her bathroom necesities. At that point Ruth took over. Ruth is an elderly, tiny and frail woman who appeared as if she was going to faint at any moment throughout the tour. She would frequently emit murmurs of exasperation as she leaned againt the walls for support, and admonished us several times for touching the surface of a chest or the mouldings of a door. She shrewishly said "Don't touch that!. SHE was supposed to tell you that. Didn't SHE tell you that?" ("she" referring to the black lady downstairs who initiated the tour). When she pointed out the roped off stairway leading to the attic she offered the advice that we weren't allowed to go up there and "didn't SHE tell you that when you were downstairs? SHE was supposed to." When the tour was finished and we thanked her and were saying our goodbyes, she became much friendlier since she was being rid of us and began complaining to us how she hadn't had any lunch and how thirsty she was. Adding that she would remain upstairs because that's what her boss told her to do and she always does what he tells her. It was all too comical for us to be annoyed and we had many a good laugh over her behavior, but some people may not feel the same way. Because of their unprofessionalism and the way we were treated I gave what could have been a 5 star attraction, 3 stars. We were a group of 3 middle-aged adults and 1 teenager, so no small children for Ruth to have to fret over.

Visited March 2014
1 Thank luvmooney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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110 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
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English first
New Braunfels, Texas
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Great tour!”
Reviewed March 14, 2014

We had a great tour with Jake (I think). He was wonderful and went out of his way to not only explain the stuff in the house and the family, but show their archives of dresses to my 4 year old daughter. This stop was one of the highlights of our Memphis trip.

Visited March 2014
1 Thank 320mandyb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Augusta, GA
Level Contributor
1,311 reviews
625 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 496 helpful votes
“Beautiful home”
Reviewed March 6, 2014

The home is beautiful and full of gorgeous antiques and interesting equipment. It is not completely finished being renovated. We were here on a cold, gray day, so it was a little depressing, but our guide told us the gardens are being put in in the back and they will give the place a facelift. Our guide was very frail but did a good job. She was passionate about what she was doing and made the tour more interesting.

Visited March 2014
1 Thank Kay M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Solihull, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
219 reviews
118 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 123 helpful votes
“Nice Memphis Victorian House”
Reviewed October 4, 2013

Whilst to us (being from the UK) this is not a particularly old house, we thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Our guide was very informative and we thought the house had a really comfy atmosphere Don't think it would hold a great deal of interest for children but very good for adults.

Visited September 2013
Thank SWeaver12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denver, Colorado
Level Contributor
142 reviews
98 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 118 helpful votes
“Wonderful home and staff.”
Reviewed September 21, 2013

Our family loves old homes, not just the architecture, the antiques, and the fascinating glimpse into another time and way of life but the stories of the people and of the cities. We have been in everything from log cabins and colonials to Victorians and antebellum homes and never tire of a good tour and this one was.
We were fortunate enough to come on a slow day and got our own personal tour guide. She was very knowledgeable and friendly and more than willing to answer our questions and talk with us. I enjoyed hearing more about the Woodruff and Fontaine families, of the yellow fever epidemic that was such a problem for the city, and of the mourning rituals of the day. I thought I knew most all of them and still learned something new today. They also have an impressive collection of textiles and antique clothing, something of interest to my daughter and myself. They have done a wonderful job preserving this place and its many stories.
Anyone who believes a home tour is only about looking at the house itself does not have their ears open as they follow their guide. There is so much more to a home tour than gawking at architecture and antiques, though I admit I enjoy doing so, there are things to be learned about how people have changed and how they haven't. How their stories have shaped our stories and led us to where we are today.

Visited September 2013
7 Thank bookwormwendy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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