Beneath the tall, gently swaying palms of Charleston lurks lifetimes of history and mystery. The city of carriages and cobblestone has seen centuries of tragedy. This quiet coastal town is home to some of the most infamous ghosts and spirits in the country.
Founded in 1670, the port city was a central part of British colonization. Over the years, it has seen the effects of the Revolution, the slave trade, and the Civil War. Many lives have been lost within the city. It’s no surprise that Charleston is a hot-bed of eerie activity.
Now a popular tourist attraction, Charleston has a myriad of interesting activities and attractions. There’s no shortage of unique shopping and dining options in this delightful city. However few restaurants are as alluring as the famous Poogan’s Porch.
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A Popular Eatery in Charleston, with a Creepy Past
The cheery yellow exterior and the smells of Southern comfort food waiting from inside are enough to draw you into the charming Poogan’s Porch. The restaurant, famous for its pimento cheese fritters and shrimp and grits draws in tourists and locals alike looking for a delicious meal. The classic Southern hospitality and huge wine cellar are added perks at this bustling eatery.
Poogan’s Porch is more than just an amazing culinary experience. The atmosphere is unique and charming, making you feel right at home. The converted Victorian townhouse creates a vibe that’s both polished and comforting. Whether you dine on the sunlit patio, airy porch, or in the many cozy dining rooms, you’re sure to have an experience you won’t soon forget.
The restaurant, however, has a story much deeper than just the cast iron pork chops and buttermilk fried chicken it serves. It’s pretty pastel walls hold dramatic stories that it’s longing to tell. Poogan’s Porch is not just a popular dining spot, it’s also one of the most haunted places in all of Charleston.
Poogan’s Porch’s Early Haunted Residents
Poogan’s Porch was originally built as a stately home on Queen Street in 1888. It was part of an emerging neighborhood of single-family homes. Over the years, it’s believed that a variety of families took residence in the home. However, none of these residents are more famous than Zoe St. Amand.
In the early 1900s, Zoe and her sister Elizabeth moved into the home. Mysteriously to others in the community, the two chose to live alone. However, as spinsters, living together provided much comfort and company to the closely bonded sisters. They also weren’t a social duo, mainly keeping to themselves.
Zoe was a school teacher at the time and she definitely dressed the part. Normally clad in a long black dressed and wire-rimmed glasses, her look was more Puritan than Southern belle. Zoe didn’t care much for the societal pressures and beauty standards of the South.
Zoey and Elizabeth lived quietly in their home together for four decades. They enjoyed each other’s company and created an impenetrable bond. However, that bond would be sadly broken with Elizabeth’s tragic passing in 1945.
Naturally, Zoey was devastated by the loss of her sister and best friend. She fell into a deep and unyielding depression. Both her mood and mental health started to deteriorate quickly without any companionship or help through her grief.
Zoey became so upset and delusional that she was starting to cry out her sister’s name while wandering frantically down Queen Street. Neighbors became more and more concerned for her wellbeing. Finally, one of them made the tough decision to take her to St. Francis Hospital.
Poor Zoey lived out the rest of her days at the hospital, likely tortured by the loss of her sister and being away from their shared home. Zoey’s life sadly ended at the hospital in 1954, nearly ten years after her sister. Her body was buried alongside her family just north of downtown at the St. Lawrence Cemetary.
From Home to Eatery, Serving Charleston
In the 1970s, a wave of the Queen Street residential properties was transitioning to commercialized buildings. Many of the spacious houses were being converted from homes to shops and restaurants. The same would happen to the old home where Zoey and Elizabeth St. Amand used to live.
Bobbie Ball moved from West Virginia to South Carolina to work as a court reporter. However, her dream was to open an eatery. She bought the home at 72 Queen Street and set to work remodeling it into the perfect restaurant. One day, as Bobbie was working to transform the home, she looked down to discover that she had a surprise visitor.
Why the Name Poogan’s?
Bobbie’s new companion was a sweet Wheaton Terrier. He was a stray dog that often wandered the neighborhood. The porch of Bobbie’s property had been one of his long-time favorite resting spots.
He watched Bobbie work on her renovation from the porch, occasionally being awarded for his company with small morsels of treats. Bobbie fell in love with the scruffy pooch and lovingly named him Poogan. They formed a bond that made opening her restaurant even more special and meaningful.
When Bobbie was finally ready to open the restaurant’s doors in 1976, Poogan was there right by her side. She even thanked him for his loyal companionship by naming the restaurant after him and his favorite spot. Poogan’s Porch was born and the name still remains the same today. Her four-legged friend became a popular presence at the eatery, happily greeting guests as they arrived from the porch.
Sadly in 1979, after an adventurous life, the nine-year-old Poogan passed away from natural causes. Bobbie was so saddened by the loss of her loyal companion. She buried the pup in a marked grave of the restaurant’s front year near his beloved porch. To this day, restaurant patrons can stop at Poogan’s grave to pay their respects.
The Ghost of Zoe St. Amand of Poogan’s Porch
Though Zoe didn’t reside at her home when she died, many believe that her spirit still lives on there. She had such a deep connection to the home that it’s likely that her ghost returned there after her death at the St. Francis Hospital. Both restaurant diners and staff members have had eerie sightings that simply can’t be explained.
Zoe and her sister Elizabeth’s strong connection didn’t end with their deaths. Their bond lived on and it’s believed that Zoe is still very much mourning her sister’s passing before her. She never got over the nine years that she had to live alone without her best friend.
Zoe’s spirit has been desperately searching for her beloved sibling. It’s believed that she has been wandering her old home, perilously yearning for her sister like she did after Elizabeth’s death so many years ago. Even reverting back to her old habits of aimlessly wandering while calling out her name.
Shocked women have reported encountering Zoe in the ladies’ room of the restaurant. They will take one last glance in the mirror before returning to their tables and see her image behind them. Many don’t even realize that her lifelike image is a ghost until they learn the story of the woman that once lived there. Only then do they understand that they came face to face with the home’s most notable resident.
Staff members have also had eerie encounters with Zoe’s tortured spirit. One morning, as the chef was opening up the restaurant, he had an odd run-in with the ghost. He set his coffee mug on the stairs and left to complete his morning routine.
He found that his cup had disappeared when he came back to finish his coffee. Checking the kitchen to see if he misplaced it, he gave up and got a new cup. He was shocked to find his cup returned to the stairs moments later. Only now, it had lipstick marks on the edges. Perhaps Zoe was curious about the brunch being served in her former home.
Poogan’s Porch owner Bobbie has even had an encounter with the spirit. Was it Zoe trying to tell her that she was angry that her treasured home was converted to a restaurant? Maybe she simply wanted to make her presence known to the new inhabitants.
As Bobbie was closing the restaurant one evening, she heard a loud, abrupt chaos. She turned to find that the restaurant’s heavy wooden stools had tumbled loudly to the floor. She stopped in her tracks as the hefty wooden door slammed open and closed.
Employees have reported hearing odd sounds around the restaurant, especially from upstairs. When they investigate, the second story rooms are completely empty. They’ve also heard mysterious voices and felt an eerie feeling come over them. However, when they turn to look, no one is there.
You don’t even have to dine or work at Poogan’s Porch for a chance to witness Zoe’s spirit. A stay at the Mills House Hotel across the street from the restaurant can give you an opportunity. Guests there have had some chilling and unusual sightings overlooking the eatery.
Zoe’s panicked image has been seen in the upstairs windows of Poogan’s Porch. Guests at the hotel called the police and reported that an old woman in black was desperately hitting the windows like she was trying to escape from the restaurant. Police responded to the scene to investigate the odd report.
When they arrived, they went into the restaurant to investigate the claims. They found that the entire building was completely empty. The alarm was still set and there was no evidence of anyone coming in or out of the restaurant. It seemed as if the panicking old woman had just mysteriously vanished.
Over the years, various staff members and customers have had their own encounters with Zoe. Some have fled the restaurant screaming and terrified. Others have simply been creeped out by the unexplainable presence they have felt. Either way, it seems likely that Zoe doesn’t want to leave her residence at Poogan’s Porch any time soon.
Poogan’s Permanent Haunting Presence
Visiting Poogan’s Porch is the best chance to get a glimpse of the restaurant’s namesake. From his grave in the front yard to sightings at his favorite spots, many guests have had the chance to feel Poogan’s presence. He seems particularly fond of the eatery’s youngest patrons.
Poogan spent so much of his later life lounging on the relaxing front porch of the restaurant. He adored keeping watch and eagerly greeting guests as they entered. It’s been said that you can still catch a glimpse of Poogan’s spirit, joyfully hanging out in his favorite spot.
Like most dogs, Poogan seems to be drawn more to young children. He’s been said to be felt frolicking under tables, rubbing his fur against the dangling legs of dining kiddos. Perhaps he’s simply greeting them or playfully begging for a taste of their meals.
Poogan pats around the dining room’s wooden floors, looking for crumbs of the familiar food. He joyfully immerses himself in the hustle and bustle of the busy restaurant that became his home. Poogan’s spirit had become a delightful and welcome presence in the eatery.
Poogan has grown into part of the restaurant’s culture and his photo proudly adorns the walls. The many guests that have felt his presence show that Poogan is still very much a part of the reason that Poogan’s Porch is so special. This unique story is the perfect reason to visit the one-of-a-kind eatery.
Dining at the Haunted Poogan’s Porch In Charleston
At least one meal at Poogan’s Porch is a must when you’re in Charleston. With a diverse menu of low-country favorites, the food is sure to please a wide variety of diners. Plus, you may get a glimpse of Zoe or Poogan milling about.
The eatery is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of the week. It’s the perfect place to grab brunch and mimosas before exploring the nearby city attractions. It’s also perfect a great spot to refuel while wandering the charming French Quarter.
Will you choose to enjoy the famous biscuits and fried green tomatoes in one of the restaurant’s cozy dining rooms? Would you rather enjoy a refreshing Moscow mule and wedge salad from the breezy front porch that Poogan so loved? With so many options, you may feel the need to return to Poogan’s Porch time and time again.
Being true to its love for four-legged friends, Poogan’s is very dog friendly so you can even bring your pooch along for your meal. Request an outdoor table and enjoy your meal with your favorite furry companion on the porch or patio. Poogan’s can get busy, especially on weekends, so you may benefit from making a reservation ahead of time.
Aside from spiritual sightings, Poogan’s Porch is a great opportunity for celebrity spottings. Everyone from singer Bette Midler to actor Justin Long has been seen dining at the restaurant. Who knows? You might end up enjoying your Southern cooking alongside famed guests Amanda Seyfried and Calvin Klein.
Whether you’re looking for a spiritual presence, celebrity sighting, or just plain delicious, downhome comfort food, Poogan’s Porch won’t disappoint. The historical presence and complicated past make it an intriguing experience. Your visit will definitely be something to remember.
Other French Quarter Haunts
The French Quarter is a small historical district named after the large number of French immigrants that settled there. Their cultural influence is apparent in the stunning architecture of the intimate neighborhood. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The many beautiful churches, delicious restaurants, and cultural galleries provide much to explore.
The district is home to many historical buildings dating back to 1713. With so much history, it’s no surprise that Poogan’s Porch isn’t the only place in the French Quarter that paranormal happenings have been said to occur. A visit to the district gives you the opportunity to explore its many haunts.
The Dock Street Theater
A stroll down Church Street can take you by the Dock Street Theater. It’s impressive pillars and detailed metalwork makes it a stunning sight to see. This building was once home to the infamous Planter’s Hotel. The hotel was a bustling hotspot of socializing, partying, and mingling with prostitutes.
One of these prostitutes was Nettie Dickerson. She came to Charleston looking for love in the big city. A country girl, her culture shock transformed her from loyal church employee to lady of the night. Her morals quickly gave in to her lust for love.
She visited the hotel frequently, desperate to lure a husband. Her beauty made her popular among the men and she became a successful prostitute. This didn’t make her fellow church-goers happy so she eventually left the congregation.
One night, Nettie was enjoying one of her many visits to the hotel. She looked stunning in a bright, red dress and quickly attracted a customer. Upon finding that her client was broke, Nettie angrily stewed on the room’s upstairs balcony.
A priest from the church noticed her in her scarlet gown and tried to reason with her from below. She refused his help and stubbornly pouted as a thunderstorm came along. The violent storm ripped through the sky and a lighting bolt reached down and abruptly ended Nettie’s life.
It’s said that Nettie’s spirit is still wandering the building, now The Dock Street Theater. She is still dawning the same crimson frock, tattered from the electrical current that took her life. Perhaps she’s still roaming the building, desperately looking for the elusive true love that she so desired.
The Pink House
A jaunt over to Chalmers Street will lead you to a vivid, bubble gum-hued building. It’s bright and charming exterior has been carefully preserved as it’s one of the oldest buildings in the district. However, it’s cheerful exterior is misleading and there is a great deal of mystery lurking inside.
The tiny, adorable house was once home to a brothel popular with sailors. Functioning as both a tavern and a coffee house also, The Pink House was a one-stop-shop for men passing through Charleston. The nefarious activity that took place inside likely led to everything from overdoses to murders. Over the years, many deaths and tragedies occurred in the building.
Many of those that have been inside The Pink House report feeling a ghostly presence. Their photos have revealed images of unexpected spirits lurking in the background. Mysterious noises have been heard from empty rooms within the tiny home. The unscrupulous past of the building seems trapped within its walls.
Less than a five-minute walk from Poogan’s Porch sits The Powder Magazine building. Built in 1713, The Powder Magazine is the oldest surviving public building in the entire state of South Carolina. It’s eery presence and history of war usage makes it an attractive place to visit for those seeking spiritual activity.
It’s rumored that the spirit of Anne Bonny haunts the old building. A female pirate that lived a tumultuous life that included being disowned by her family and wedding multiple husbands, she narrowly escaped execution. She was spared her life because she was pregnant but later died. It’s believed that Anne haunts many spots in the French Quarter. Perhaps her spirit has kept the wandering habits of an unsettled pirate.
Ghostly Encounters in Charleston
Whether you’re looking to come face to face with a ghost in the Ladies Room at Poogan’s Porch or catch a glimpse of the resident pooch, this restaurant is a must to visit. It’s location, centered in the historic French Quarter, make it a prime spot for paranormal activity. The significance of the tangled past of the neighborhood lingers in the warm air.
Charleston gives you the ideal opportunity for ghostly encounters and eerie sightings. Between violent battles, slave ownership, and ruthless pirates, the city has experienced an evil past like none other. Your exploration of the city’s spiritual history will leave your hair standing on end and your mind questioning.
The streets of this seemingly peaceful city are best wandered after dark. There’s a possibility to catch a glimpse of a spirit around every corner. Dinner at Poogan’s Porch followed by an evening stroll could lead to witnessing a supernatural event that you won’t soon forget.