In a city as old as Charleston, it is no surprise we have a few lingering spirits. Here our some of our favorite Holy City haunted tales as well as some events you can enjoy this Halloween season.
1. Old Jail
One of the most popular Charleston ghost tales is of Lavinia Fisher who is suspected of still haunting the Old Jail. Lavinia and her husband John owned the Six Mile House right outside of Charleston where weary travelers could stop and spend the night. It is reported that the couple would poison guests and send them to bed over a trap door where they would wait until the traveler was asleep then pull the trap door releasing the bed and the guest. John Peoples was the lucky soul who claims he escaped the twisted couple. By denying Lavinia’s special tea he was able to get out the window after the bed fell through floor and ran to police who after investigation found the bodies of multiple missing people. The couple was found guilty and sentenced to the gallows. In South Carolina at the time, a married women could escape the death penalty, but the judge squashed that plan and and hung John first which made Lavinia a widow and eligible to hang. It’s said that Lavinia wore a wedding dress to her hanging, hoping her beauty and the pity of her state would cause some man in the crowd to swoon, and marry her at the last moment. Unsuccessful, when she realized that wasn’t going to happen, her mood quickly changed. They had to drag her up on the gallows, kicking and screaming.
This 1888 Victorian home now houses a great Southern restaurant, Poogan’s Porch, but it was the former residence of Zoe Amand, a spinster schoolteacher who died on the second floor of the home in 1954. Outside observers and hotel guests at The Mills House across the street have reported seeing her inside the restaurant after it is closed.
122 East Bay Street once imprisoned many pirates and patriots as they were awaiting execution. Prisoners were chained and starved and their moans were heard throughout the dungeon. Staff members to this day have reported hearing these moans as well as eerie footsteps on the upper floors.
At 20 South Battery, several ghosts sightings have been reported at this 1843 inn. Room Eight is said to be the home to the Headless Torso, reputedly a Civil War soldier, a terrifying apparition which moans menacingly. Room Ten has a spirit known as the Gentleman Caller, who is a spectral presence which is fond of ladies who stay in the room, often lightly petting their hair as they sleep.
This building has been around since 1809 and has an incredibly rich history. It began as a theatre that suffered from a fire bringing actors and audience members to their death. The Planter’s Hotel was built on the property shortly after the catastrophe and was then converted back into a theatre we still enjoy today. Performers and spectators alike have claimed to see spirits wandering around and even out on the stage.
See for yourself, check out Dracula, King of the vampires on stage now at the theatre.
Have we sparked your curiosity? Contact Bull Dog Tours for their Ghost & Gaveyards Tour or check out the Old Jail Tour and see the ghost of Lavinia Fisher yourself! Looking for something appropriate for the kiddos? Try Family Fright Nights at Magnolia Planation or The Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch & Maze. Happy Halloween in the Holy City!
In a city that has survived more than 300 years and the occasional war, fire, hurricane, and earthquake, you’re bound to find a few ghosts. So many of Charleston’s visitors come here hungry for a good old-fashioned ghost story and we’re happy to oblige. We have Ghost Walks, Graveyard Tours, even a Haunted Harbor Boat Tour. Since today is Halloween, I thought I’d save you the price of admission and tell you about some of our city’s most famous spirits.
The Battery Carriage House Inn is reportedly the home to several ghosts. One of my favorites is called “the Gentleman Ghost” sometimes referred to as “the Gentleman Caller.” I find this particular spirit incredibly strange and fascinating. He usually visits room 10. “Well-dressed and groomed…he likes to lie down beside female guests. He never disturbs them knowingly.” If you scream or cry he will exit quickly through the nearest wall. Sounds like it’s lonely on the other side. A lady recalls her experience “…I was restless and couldn’t fall asleep…I noticed a wispy gray apparition to be floating through the closed door, and through the air, entering the room…he lay down beside me on the bed. He placed his right arm around my shoulders. I didn’t feel any pressure from his arm touching me…I wasn’t frightened because he didn’t seem threatening”. So ladies, the good news is, even if you’re the only guest registered in room 10 at the Battery Carriage House Inn, you may not be sleeping alone. You can read some first hand accounts of other hauntings and ghost sightings from the Inn’s past guests HERE.
The ghost of Sue Howard Hardy, a woman who died six days after giving birth to a stillborn child, is said to roam St. Philips’ graveyard. In 1987, an amateur photographer captured this image of Sue, kneeling beneath her headstone on the anniversary of the death of her child. Spooky!
If you’re interested in seeing Sue for yourself, you can take a tour of the graveyard any night of the week with Bulldog Tours.
Finally, if taking an early morning walk down Church Street, don’t be surprised if you hear the “Whistling Doctor” strolling along beside you. More than 200 years ago, Joseph Brown, a young doctor, came to Charleston to establish his medical practice. Dr. Brown rented a room at 59 Church Street, the home of two elderly women who always knew when he was home because they could hear him whistling a happy melody. And everyone in the neighborhood knew when the doctor was walking the streets of Charleston because they, too, could hear him whistling the same bright tune.
After attending a play, Dr. Brown joined several other young men at a tavern to discuss the performance. The conversation was light as the young men extolled the virtues of one of the young actresses. But when one of the men made a derogatory remark about her, Dr. Brown felt he must defend her honor. So he challenged the fellow to a duel.
Unfortunately, Dr. Brown was shot and had to be promptly carried off to his lodgings on Church Street. Blood poisoning soon set in and the doctor languished, becoming weaker and weaker with each passing day. Then one morning, to his landladies’ surprise and delight, they heard his usual bright and happy whistling. The two hurried to his room only to find him dead. Ever since, people have reported hearing whistling along Church Street, even when no one is around and all windows are closed.
It’s widely believed that Charleston is one of the most haunted cities in America. That’s not surprising considering all the births and deaths she’s seen in her more than 300 years. Many people believe spirits congregate here because Charleston is about as close to Heaven as you can get.
Happy Halloween from the Haunted Holy City!