In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, I tell Rebecca the truth (or as much as I can uncover) about one of Memphis’ most famous “haunted” locations: Voodoo Village. Voodoo Village has truly become its own urban legend. So in this episode, we hope to dispel some of the rumor and lore and tell you what exactly is behind those locked gates.
There are many stories of people having spooky encounters at Voodoo Village. But the reality behind this family compound filled with strange buildings and unusual art is actually more fascinating to us than the legend of it all.
First, let’s set the record straight on what Voodoo Village is. The actual name for the place is St. Paul’s Holiness Temple. Washington “Doc” Harris, a self-ordained Baptist minister from central Mississippi, built the temple there and lived on the land with his family. The colorfully painted shotgun houses are surrounded by roughly 1,500 pieces of mysterious sculptures and surreal machines made out of painted wood.
We discuss the misunderstood relationship between the temple and voodoo, how a lot of what goes on in the compound is typical of African American vernacular worship in the Deep South, and how masonic symbols play their own interesting role in the story. We wrap up with how you might have interacted with a resident of Voodoo Village without even realizing it!
Voodoo Village – The Temple is a short documentary made about St. Paul’s Holiness Temple with the blessing of its caretaker, Washington “Mook” Harris.
Lindsey Turner’s Voodoo Village pictures
St. Paul’s Spiritual Holy Temple [aka Voodoo Village] via Spaces Art Environments