Established by English colonists in 1670, Charleston is one of the oldest and most storied American cities. From its history as a shipping port, its struggle during the Revolutionary War, and its involvement in the Civil War, Charleston is a rich well of history. The stories and characters from its past are compelling and unique…and not entirely left in the past.
Today Charleston is the site of extraordinary dining, taking advantage of the plentiful fresh seafood in the region. Skilled chefs create masterpieces, drawing on classic Lowcountry and Southern cuisines, such as expertly crafted barbecue. As you relish your exquisite meal, accompanied by the perfect cocktail, you may have a sense that you’re dining with an extra guest or two. Don’t worry; it’s not your imagination. That’s just some of Charleston’s more ancient residents stopping by to say hello.
Top 5 Haunted Places in Charleston
Here are a few of the best spots to catch a glimpse of some of the personalities from Charleston’s past.
1 – Old City Jail
Built in 1802, Old City Jail is a beautiful building reminiscent of an abandoned castle. However, it was home to some of the city’s most dangerous people, many of whom died within its walls. It housed pirates, murderers, and even the first known female serial killer, Lavinia Fisher. She was held there until her execution, and legend says she wore her wedding dress to the gallows.
People who were unjustly imprisoned were also held and died there, such as slaves and Civil War prisoners.
The Old City Jail is considered one of the most haunted places in the country. People have reported hearing voices coming from empty rooms, seeing objects move on their own, and feeling someone poke them as they walk by. Many people have even seen the ghost of Lavinia Fisher, possibly sweeping through the halls in her wedding dress.
2 – Unitarian Church Cemetery
Your first glimpse of the Unitarian Church Cemetery makes it clear this is a mysterious place. While most graveyards in the area are meticulously maintained, to hold back the lush green growth, only the paths of this cemetery are groomed. This overgrown vegetation is considered a symbol of life after death in the Unitarian Church, but it’s also the perfect backdrop for the spooky incidents in the graveyard.
The ghost of Annabel Lee is said to walk the grounds of the cemetery. Local legend says that Annabel Lee was only 14 when she fell in love with an 18-year-old man who was staying in nearby Fort Moultrie. Her father refused to allow the couple to be together, locking his daughter in her room to keep them apart. Annabel Lee languished and died in her room and was buried in the Unitarian Church Cemetery, in an unmarked grave so her lover could not find her even after her death.
An amazing twist in this story is that many believe that the man in this story was the poet Edgar Allan Poe. His poem, “Annabel Lee,” speaks of their undying love.
And neither the angels in Heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee
3 – Poogan’s Porch
Seemingly hidden on Queen Street, Poogan’s Porch is a traditional southern cuisine restaurant that serves its meals in a Victorian townhouse. This restaurant is named after Poogan, the dog that lived and died there in 1979. Guests have often reported seeing him walk the grounds and even felt him brush past their legs as they eat.
However, there is another ghostly presence at Poogan’s Porch. The house was once the home of sisters Zoe and Elizabeth St. Amand. Elizabeth died in 1945, leaving Zoe alone and confused. She later died in 1954, and ever since, people have reported seeing a woman dressed in black wandering the rooms of the building. More than a few patrons have said that Zoe appeared behind them in the ladies’ bathroom, showing herself in the mirror.
4 – Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
This building was constructed in 1767, and it was a customs house, commerce center, and post office. Underneath all this mundane activity, however, the basement harbored a dungeon. Here pirates, war prisoners, and slaves were held in appalling conditions, many of them dying within its walls. Visitors have heard screams and felt hands reaching out for them as they toured the dungeon.
One of the famous prisoners held in the Old Exchange dungeon was Isaac Hayne. He was an English soldier who defected to fight with the patriots during the Revolutionary War, only to be caught and executed by the Redcoats. People have reported seeing someone they thought was a guide dressed in Revolution-era clothing, only to have him disappear before their eyes. It’s thought this apparition might be the spirit of Issac Hayne.
5 -Battery Carriage House Inn
One of the city’s most historic hotels, the Battery Carriage House Inn was rebuilt after sustaining heavy damage during the Civil War. Today it is a beautiful, elegant hotel, where more than one room seems to hold unexpected guests.
Room 8 is home to what is probably the most frightening apparition on site. Guests have reported waking in the night to find a headless torso floating beside the bed. It’s believed that he’s a soldier from the Civil War who suffered his gruesome injuries in battle.
In Room 10 you’ll find a friendlier apparition. A gentleman is seen moving through this room, sometimes trying to climb into bed with women who stay in the room. When the women scream, he flees through a built-in cabinet that stands where the door out of the room used to be. Many believe that this man is the ghost of a college student to committed suicide by jumping off the inn’s roof.
If you’re interested in seeing a spirit from days gone by, Charleston is the perfect destination for you. Nightly Spirits has experienced and knowledgeable guides to provide the experience you’re seeking. If you’re ready to encounter the stories and ghosts of Charleston, book a Charleston ghost tour today!