Doing the Charleston: A Ghostly Tour

A friend of mine recently contacted me and asked for a walking tour of Charleston, South Carolina. This is a tour of Charleston’s haunted highlights. It’s divided into three parts for convenience: South of Broad, North of Broad and Further Afield. For private residences, please respect the residents and simply look.

I’m trying a new system for sources. The bold numbers at the end of each entry correspond with the sources at the end of the article.

I’d like to use one of best descriptions of Charleston to one of my favorite authors:

The city of Charleston, in the green feathery modesty of its palms, in the certitude of its style, in the economy and stringency of its lines, and the serenity of its mansions South of Broad Street, is a feast for the human eye. But to me, Charleston is a dark city, a melancholy city, whose severe covenants and secrets are as powerful and beguiling as its elegance, who demons dance their alley dances and compose their malign hymns to the dark side of the moon I cannot see…

Though I will always be a visitor to Charleston, I will always remain one with a passionate belief that it is the most beautiful city in America and that to walk the old section of the city at night is to step into the bloodstream of a history extravagantly lived by a people born to a fierce and unshakable advocacy of their past. To walk in the spire-proud shade of Church Street is to experience the chronicle of a mythology that is particular to this city and this city alone, a trinitarian mythology with equal parts of the sublime, the mysterious, and the grotesque. But there is nothing to warn you of Charleston’s refined cruelty…

Entering Charleston is like walking through the brilliant carbon forest of a diamond with the light dazzling you in a thousand ways, an assault of light and shadow caused by light. The sun and the city have struck up an irreversible alliance.

— Pat Conroy, The Lords of Discipline, 1980

South of Broad Street

BATTERY CARRIAGE HOUSE INN (20 South Battery) The Battery Carriage House Inn is possibly one of the more spiritually active locations in the city. A few of the inn’s eleven sumptuous guest rooms are apparently haunted. A couple staying in room 3 were awakened by noise from a cellphone; while this may be quite common, phones are not supposed to make noise when powered off as this phone was. But this activity seems minor compared to the reports from rooms 8 and 10. Guests staying in Room 8 have encountered the apparition of a man’s torso. There is no head or limbs, just a torso dressed in a few layers of clothing. One guest sensed that this figure was quite negative. The spirit in Room 10 is much more pleasant and even described as a gentleman. The innkeepers believe this may be the spirit of the son of a former owner who committed suicide. 5, 14, 23, 33

BLIND TIGER PUB (36-38 Broad Street) Housed in a pair of old commercial buildings, these buildings have served a variety of uses over the years including number 38 serving as home to the State Bank of South Carolina for many years. During the administration of Governor Bill Tillman (1895-1918), the state of South Carolina attempted to control the sale of alcohol. Throughout Charleston small establishments sprung up where the citizenry could, for a small admission fee, see a blind tiger and drinks would be provided compliments of the house. Number 36 housed one of these establishments. During the era of national prohibition, this building housed a speakeasy.

The pub is known to be inhabited by happy spirits according to a former employee. Patrons and staff have seen figures in the building while odd sounds have been heard. Staff closing the back porch have had the motion-activated light come on without anyone else being present. 10, 20

CHARLESTON BATTERY On the Battery near the Edmondston-Alston House at 21 South Battery, a young woman encountered the apparition of a woman dressed in period clothing. James Caskey posits that the sad-faced apparition may very well have been the spirit of Theodosia Burr Alston, the daughter of Vice President Aaron Burr and wife of South Carolina Governor Joseph Alston. In 1812, Theodosia Burr Alston boarded the Patriot in Georgetown, SC as she headed north. The ship was never heard from again. Her spirit has been seen up and down the South Carolina coast. 10, 38

Charleston City Hall, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

CHARLESTON CITY HALL (80 Broad Street) Charleston’s marvelous city hall was originally constructed as a branch of the first Bank of the United States in 1800. It became city hall in 1818. Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, a native of Louisiana, was in charge of the city’s defenses during the attack on Fort Sumter, the battle that began the Civil War. He returned later in the war to command the coastal defenses for the Deep South. According to Tally Johnson, his spirit has been seen prowling the halls of this magnificent building. 13, 20

DANIEL HUGER HOUSE (34 Meeting Street, private) While this mid-18th century home sustained little damage during the Great Charleston Earthquake of 1886, a young, English visitor to the home was killed on the front steps. This area is prone to earthquakes and the quake that struck the city in 1886 caused massive damage throughout the city. The young man visiting the Huger (pronounced HEW-jee) family here fled the house when the shaking began. As he stood on the front steps a piece of molding from the roof struck him on the head, killing him. He may be the cause of mysterious rapping on the front door prior to earthquakes. 9, 20

Hannah Heyward House, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

HANNAH HEYWARD HOUSE (31 Legare Street, private) This simple, but elegant villa-styled house was built in 1789. After Mrs. Heyward’s son, James, left one morning for a hunting trip, she encountered him sitting quietly later that afternoon. When she inquired among the servants when her son had arrived, no one seemed to have seen him. Later that evening some of James’ friends arrived with his lifeless body. Ever since, residents of the home have occasionally seen James sitting in the library. 12, 16, 20

JAMES SIMMONS HOUSE (37 Meeting Street) This house has been named “The Bosoms” because of its bowed front and you may giggle at the silliness of that. The house was built, without bosoms, in the mid-18th century and alterations in the 1840s added the namesake bays. Legend holds that a pirate buried treasure near this house and shot one of his men at the site. The “white, blurry silhouette” of that man has been seen near the house. 9, 10, 18, 20

OLD EXCHANGE BUILDING (122 East Bay Street) Among one of the most important and historic buildings in the city, the Exchange Building was constructed in the late 1760s to support the trade occurring in this, the wealthiest of colonial cities. The building was built on top of the old Half Moon Battery, a section of the original city wall. During the American Revolution, the dungeon held many of Charleston’s most prominent Patriot citizens. In 1791, this building hosted a ball for President George Washington.

It seems that the souls of some of the people imprisoned in the dungeon still stir. Ghost tours passing through the dungeon at night report that the chains used to guard exhibits swing on their own while visitors take photographs with anomalies quite regularly. Cries and moans have been heard here and Alan Brown reports that some woman have been attacked here. One hapless female visitor was pushed up against a wall while another felt hands around her neck. 6, 18, 20

ST. MICHAEL’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH (80 Meeting Street) Step inside the cool sanctuary of this mid-18th century church and be on the lookout for a spectral bride. Legend speaks of Harriet Mackie who was supposedly poisoned on her wedding day and remains here in her wedding dress. 18, 20

St. Michael’s, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

ST. MICHAEL’S RECTORY (76 Meeting Street) St. Michael’s Alley, running alongside St. Michael’s Church’s churchyard to Church Street, was the scene of a duel in 1786 that left one young man with mortal wounds. Aroused by the commotion outside his house, Judge Elihu Hall Bay, a noted Charleston jurist, ordered the man’s companions to bring him into the house. Fearing that they could face consequences for their involvement with the dual, the young men fled after seeing their wounded friend into the house. The young man died.

It was reported that the commotion of the men bringing their wounded friend inside and then hurriedly fleeing was heard in the house on a regular basis. It has been noted, however, that since the home was converted to use as a church rectory in 1942, the sounds have ceased. 10, 18, 20

SIMMONS EDWARDS HOUSE (14 Legare Street) Just outside of Francis Simmons’ old home (see the Simmons Gateposts, 131 Tradd Street for more information) a shadowy couple has been seen walking hand in hand on the street. Their identity is unknown. 12, 18

Simmons Gateposts, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

SIMMONS GATEPOSTS (131 Tradd Street) These gateposts, marking where Ruth Lowndes Simmons’ home once stood, serve as sentinels to remind us of a tragic love story. While Ruth Lowndes was from a noble Charleston family, she was almost a spinster when she married Francis Simmons, a wealthy planter. Simmons provided his wife with a fine house here, though he had his own home on nearby Legare Street. When their separate carriages would pass, the couple would rise and bow to the other. An old Charleston legend says that the sounds of a horse and carriage are heard here. James Caskey reports that he felt the rush of air and smelled the odor of sweaty horses as he visited these gateposts at night. 10, 12, 18

SWORD GATE HOUSE (32 Legare Street) In the night, a spirit still prowls the halls of the magnificent house that stands beyond these iron gates wrought with swords. The gates were originally created to be used outside the city’s guardhouse, but were bought by Madame Talvande to guard her students after the city rejected the gates as too expensive. Even after the closure of the elite boarding school, legend speaks of Madame Talvande remaining here in spirit to see that her students remain moral and chaste. 6, 16, 20

THE TAVERN (120 East Bay Street) There are questions as to just how old this little building is. Some sources argue that it may well be one of the oldest buildings in the city, while others argue that it only dates to the early 19th century. Regardless, this building can claim an inordinate amount of history, mostly as a tavern and coffeehouse, as well as ghosts.

One owner spotted the specter of an 18th-century gentleman walking through the back door of the building. Later, his vision was confirmed by a psychic visitor who saw the same gentleman and some other spirits still lingering here. There are numerous stories regarding the spirits who may linger in this old tavern building. 10, 20

THOMAS ROSE HOUSE (59 Church Street) This circa 1735 home may have never been occupied by Thomas Rose, who built the house. However, this house did serve as the residence of Dr. Joseph Ladd, a poet and physician, who was killed in a duel in Philadelphia Alley (see that listing here) with his friend Ralph Isaacs. The argument between them amounted to a misunderstanding, but was played out in the local newspapers and ending in a duel. Ladd, who had the habit of whistling, continues to be heard in the house as well as in the alley where he met the grim specter of death. 18, 20

WHITE POINT GARDENS (Charleston Battery) If you stand at the corner of East Battery and South Battery, look down South Battery for the large stone monument. This monument marks the spot where Pirate Stede Bonnet and his men were executed. These pirates may be among the multitude of spirits here. See my article for further information and sources.

North of Broad Street

1837 BED & BREAKFAST (126 Wentworth Street) A specter from Charleston’s infamous, slave-holding past is said to haunt the rooms of this bed and breakfast. Legend holds that the spirit, affectionately named George, was a slave owned by the family that originally constructed this house. After his parents were sold to a Virginia planter, the young boy remained here. In an attempt to reach his parents, George stole a rowboat and drowned in Charleston Harbor.

The story cannot be corroborated, though the spirit’s antics continue. Patrons have reported feeling small feet walking on their beds sometimes accompanied by the sound of a whip cracking. One couple had the doors to their armoire open and close on their own accord throughout the night. 6, 8, 10

82 QUEEN (82 Queen Street) For 33 years, 82 Queen has been serving some of Charleston’s finest meals in its 11 dining rooms. The restaurant utilizes a building built in 1865 where diners and staff have reported fleeting glimpses of apparitions. James Caskey in his Charleston’s Ghosts interviews a former server who reported that she “once walked through a shadow which dissipated around me like smoke.” 10, 36

AIKEN-RHETT HOUSE (48 Elizabeth Street) According to Jonathan Poston’s The Buildings of Charleston, this estate is considered “the best-preserved complex of antebellum domestic structures” left in Charleston. The house remained in the family as a residence until it was donated to the Charleston Museum in the 1970s. Since its opening as a museum, the house has been left as is with conservation work done only to prevent deterioration.

Aiken-Rhett House, 2012. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

This house was constructed in 1817 for merchant John Robinson, but following a financial reversal the house was purchased by William Aiken, Sr., founder and president of the South Carolina Railroad. Aiken’s son renovated the house and added a series of outbuildings including slave quarters to accommodate his many slaves. It is noted that by the eve of the Civil War, William Aiken, Jr. was the largest slave owner in the state where he also served as governor.

Within the slave quarters, two visitors encountered an African-American woman who disappeared in the warren of rooms on the second floor. Two architects within the house in the late 1980s saw the apparition of a woman in the mirror sobbing and silently screaming in the ballroom of the house. Others within the house have taken photographs with possible paranormal anomalies. 7, 19, 20, 30

ANDREW PINCKNEY INN (40 Pinckney Street) Occupying a pair of historic structures at the corner of Pinckney and Church Streets, the Andrew Pinckney Inn has been described as “mind bending” after dark; with a plethora of odd noises and movements. However, the spirits are known to be friendly. 10, 20

BENJAMIN SMITH HOUSE (18 Montagu Street, private) This late 18th century home sustained damage during a hurricane in 1811. Legend holds that as the chimney collapsed the enslaved woman who served as a nanny to her owner’s children shielded them from the falling bricks with her body. She was killed as the bricks pummeled her but the children were saved. This home has since been divided into apartments and College of Charleston students living here have encountered the enslaved woman several times. 8, 20

BOCCI’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT (158 Church Street) Staff members here were once cleaning up in the second floor dining room. One of the staff members saw someone who they thought was the kitchen manager crouched by one of the walls. He called the manager’s name and got no response. Approaching the figure, the staff member realized that it was someone else and the figure was transparent. Perhaps the figure may be one of people killed in this building during a fire in the 19th century.  

Bocci’s, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

This building was constructed in 1868 by the Molony family who operated Charleston’s Irish pub on the ground floor. When Governor Tilman attempted to control alcohol sales in the state, the family converted the pub into a grocery with a small room in the back for illegal alcohol sales.

Reports of paranormal activity in the building mostly come from the second and third floors where doors open and close by themselves, voices are heard and there is mysterious rapping on doors. 10, 21

Charleston Library Society, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

CHARLESTON LIBRARY SOCIETY (164 King Street) The Charleston Library Society is the third oldest private library in the country, having been organized in 1748. This structure was built in 1914 to house the library and perhaps some of the spirits that dwell among its highly regarded stacks. William Godber Hinson, whose precious library is housed within this building, may still remain among his books. One librarian reported to the Charleston Mercury that she saw a bearded gentleman in period clothing near the Hinson stacks. Other librarians in the area have experienced sudden blasts of icy air and heard the sounds of books moving in the same area. 4, 20 21

CHARLESTON PLACE HOTEL (205 Meeting Street) Built in the mid 1980s, this structure replaced a number of historic structures that were torn down. Denise Roffe mentions a number of odd occurrences here happening to guests and staff alike. These occurrences include mysterious footsteps, knocking on doors and apparitions. 21

CIRCULAR CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH (150 Meeting Street) The long span of Meeting Street was named for the Congregational meeting house that has been located on this site since the 1680s, shortly after Charleston’s founding. The church building itself dates only to 1891 while the cemetery surrounding the building is the oldest cemetery in the city. Within its confines is the oldest slate grave marker in the United States: a small, unreadable stone now supported by a wooden frame. Many graves are unmarked and, according to the Bulldog Ghost & Dungeon Tour, many more lie under the adjacent bank parking lot. Among the old graves here there are also spirits. Numerous ghost tours pass by and a few pass through this ancient place. Joanne Davis’ entry on the churchyard in Jeff Belanger’s Encyclopedia of Haunted Places reveals that witnesses report orbs, strange mists, apparitions and voices under the ancient oaks here. 1, 11, 17, 21, 25

DOCK STREET THEATRE (135 Church Street) The original Dock Street Theatre opened its doors in 1736 as, quite possibly, the second oldest edifice devoted to theatrical performance in the colonies. The structure lasted a little less than two decades before fire reduced it to a hollowed shell of brick. The theatre was rebuilt and remained a theatre through the remainder of the 18th century. In 1809 the structure became home to the Calder House Hotel (later known as the Planter’s Hotel) run by Alexander Calder—an ancestor of the 20th century American artist of the same name—to serve wealthy visitors to the city. During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration cobbled together the collection of old buildings on this site into the current reincarnation of the Dock Street Theatre which incorporates an 18th century styled theatre and possibly a few brick walls dating to the original 1736 theatre.

Dock Street Theatre, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

A man in a tall hat and overcoat is sometimes seen in the theatre’s balcony and may sit in on rehearsals. In her Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, Denise Roffe reports on a young woman who saw this gentleman standing in the balcony when she visited.

Other stories center on a spirit known as “Netty” or “Nettie.” Likely dating to the same time as the gentleman’s spirit, legend has it that Nettie was a “working girl” who provided entertainment to the gentlemen who patronized the hotel. The legend continues with her dying a violent death on the balcony of the hotel, just above the entrance. While she was out upon the balcony one evening, the steel beam supporting the balcony was struck by lightning and she was electrocuted. According to author Terrance Zepke, her spirit form has been observed by passersby and also captured on film. Additionally, she lingers in the second floor backstage hall where she apparently appears to be walking on her knees as the floor was raised during the building’s renovations in the 1930s. Netty is still walking on the original floors. 8, 20, 21, 26, 27

EMBASSY SUITES—HISTORIC CHARLESTON HOTEL (337 Meeting Street) This building that dominates one side of Marion Square hardly looks like a typical chain hotel. This building was constructed as the South Carolina Arsenal in 1829 following the slave insurrection led by Denmark Vesey in 1822. The South Carolina Military Academy was founded here in 1842. The school, named The Citadel thanks to this structure, moved to its present site on the Ashley River in 1922.

Guests and staff members of this hotel have encountered the spirit of a Citadel cadet who remains in this building. He appears dressed in the school’s military uniform that remains unchanged from its original appearance. The only detail that indicates to the living that this is a ghost is the fact that the top of this young man’s head is missing. 8, 29, 38

FRANCIS MARION HOTEL (387 King Street) The most commonly told legend about this early 1920s-era hotel involves a young businessman from New York City. In 1929, after meeting and falling in love with a lovely lady from Charleston, Ned Cohen asked to be assigned to South Carolina by Florsheim Shoes. The young lady visited him at the hotel but left while he was asleep leaving a note saying that she could not carry on the relationship. In grief, he tucked the note in his suit pocket and jumped from his room to die on King Street below.

Guests in Ned Cohen’s former room have reported the window opening by itself. Cohen’s distraught form has been seen in the halls of the hotel while others have been disturbed to see someone falling past their windows. When they look out, everything is normal below. James Caskey reports that a search for documents to back up the story has proven fruitless. 8, 10, 19, 20

HUSK (76 Queen Street) Now housing Husk, one of the more exclusive of Charleston’s restaurants, this Queen Anne styled house was built in the late 19th century. James Caskey published the account of a couple who saw a small, fleeting black shadow while dining here. 10, 20

JASMINE HOUSE INN (64 Hassell Street) The only documented paranormal incident to take place in this 1843 house is rather humorous, though I’m sure the businessman involved did not see it that way. A gentleman staying in the Chrysanthemum Room some years ago was awakened to find the spirit of a woman within his room. When he tried to leave the room she blocked his way and shredded his newspaper. The guest was able to get to the phone and call the front desk to summon the manager. When the manager arrived, the shaken guest was alone in the room, but his mail had been tossed about and his newspaper lay in pieces on the floor. 10, 20, 23

Joe E. Berry Hall, 2012. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

JOE E. BERRY HALL – COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON (162 Calhoun Street) This modern building stands on the site of the Charleston Orphan House, which was built in 1790. A story is commonly related that the orphanage was the scene of a fire in 1918 that killed four orphans, though there is no evidence of this. The orphanage was torn down in 1951 and a commercial building erected on the site. After the construction of Berry Hall, the building has been plagued with fire alarms problems. Even after replacing the system, the problems persist. Additionally, there are spectral sounds heard within the building including voices. 8, 10, 19

Mad River Grille, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

MAD RIVER BAR & GRILLE (32 North Market Street) The Church of the Redeemer was constructed in 1916 to replace the Mariner’s Church that was damaged in the Great Earthquake of 1886. The building’s use as a church ceased in 1964 and the building became a restaurant. Evidently, the spirits residing in the building do not approve of the building’s use as a restaurant. Bottles behind the bar have been thrown off the shelf and broken and electrical problems often occur with the restaurant’s system and computer systems. 9, 20, 21

MAGNOLIA CEMETERY (70 Cunnington Street) In the mid-19th century, this cemetery, located outside the bulk of the city of Charleston, became the primary burying ground for the best of Charleston’s citizens. Denise Roffe reports that there are some wandering spirits among the magnificent funerary art here. See my post, “Locked In,” for further information. 21

MEETING STREET INN (173 Meeting Street) When it opened in 1982, the Meeting Street Inn was one of the first bed and breakfasts to open in this city during the tourism boom of the 1980s. Guests staying in Room 107 have been awakened to the specter of a woman while Room 303 has had its deadbolt lock while guests are out of the room. 20, 23

MILLS HOUSE HOTEL (115 Meeting Street) The current Mills House Hotel is a reproduction of the original that was constructed on this site in 1853. By the early 1960s, the building was in such a severe state of disrepair that the original was torn down, but replaced with a reproduction that includes an additional two floors. The spirits here don’t appear to really know the difference and continue to reside here.

Mills House Hotel, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Denise Roffe reports that several children’s spirits have been reported here along with the specter of a man in a top hat. Confederate soldiers have also been seen prowling the corridors, hearkening back to the hotel’s use as a base for Confederate forces during the Civil War. 3, 10, 20, 21

OLD CHARLESTON GHOST SHOP (168 Church Street) Sadly, this store is now closed, but it was a great place for all things creepy in Charleston. Of course, the shop also had some mischievous spirits that are reported to pull pictures from the walls, rummage through the cash drawers left overnight and cause the occasional spectral racket. 10

OLD CITY JAIL (21 Magazine Street) In recent years, this formidable building has become a mecca for ghost hunters and tours within the city. Sadly, much of the legend surrounding the old jail is either exaggerated or total bunk. While many deaths likely occurred here, the number of 40,000 used by many guides is highly inaccurate. Also, the stories told about the crimes and execution of Lavinia Fisher are mostly fictional. Yes, Lavinia Fisher was held here and she and her husband were executed, but her crimes and rebellious demeanor on the gallows are the product of a later writer. If Lavinia Fisher does haunt this place, it is likely only in an attempt to clear her sullied name.

See my other articles on the jail for further information and sources. 2011 article and 2011 tour

OLD SLAVE MART (6 Chalmers Street) Now a museum devoted to the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, this building was originally constructed as Ryan’s Mart, a slave market, in 1859. The last slave sales occurred here in 1863, but the misery induced by those few years of sales remains. According to Denise Roffe, museum employees have had run-ins with shadowy figures within this building.

Old Slave Mart Museum, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

PHILADELPHIA ALLEY (Philadelphia Alley, between Cumberland and Queen Streets) The name Philadelphia, meaning “brotherhood,” contradicts this space’s occasional use as a dueling site. The sounds of dueling remain here accompanied, according to some reports, by a faint, spectral whistling. It was here that the duel of Joseph Ladd and Ralph Isaacs commenced and the whistling has been attributed to Ladd’s sad spirit. See the entry for Ladd’s former home, the Thomas Rose House at 59 Church Street, for further information. 10, 16, 20

Pink House, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

PINK HOUSE (17 Chalmers Street) This quaint house is among the oldest buildings in the city, having been constructed around 1712. This house is believed to have housed a tavern in that time that was owned and operated by female pirate Anne Bonny. Geordie Buxton suggests that the feminine spirit here may be her shade. 2, 19, 20

POOGAN’S PORCH (72 Queen Street) Poogan, a local pooch, adopted the porch of this restaurant around the time this house was converted from a residence into a restaurant. Upon his death, the restaurant owners afforded him a prime burial spot just inside the gate. One author witnessed a child playing under his parent’s table one evening. The way the child was laughing and cavorting with something unseen. The assumption was made that the child may have been playing with the spirit of Poogan.

But it is the spirit of Zoe St. Armand who dominates this restaurant. St. Armand was one of a pair of spinster sisters who lived here for many years. The wraith of Zoe has been spotted in the women’s restroom and lingering at the top of the stairs by patrons and staff alike. 10, 19, 21

RIVIERA THEATRE (225 King Street) This Art Deco landmark opened in 1939 and closed as a cinema in 1977. After being saved from demolition in the 1980s, the theatre was purchased by the Charleston Place Hotel which uses the space for a conference center and ballroom.

Riviera Theatre, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Denise Roffe writes that during the theatre’s renovations, a worker had tools disappear only to reappear some days later in the exact spot where he had left them. She also mentions that a young woman touring the building had an encounter with a spectral cleaning woman. She only realized the woman was a ghost when she realized the figure was transparent. 21, 37

ST. PHILIP’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH (146 Church Street) With a commanding view of Church Street, it’s hard to miss St. Philips. The building’s massive portico protrudes into the street and the steeple acts as a stern finger warning the city of the wages of sin. The clean and stringent Classical lines of the church seem to set the tone for the remainder of the city. The first structure on this site was a cypress structure constructed in 1682. It was replaced in the early 18th century with an English Baroque church. The current structure was built after the Baroque church’s destruction by fire in 1835. Because of its architectural and historical importance, St. Philips is now a National Historic Landmark.

Around this church lies an ancient churchyard that serves as the final resting place for many prominent Charlestonians and a stopping point for numerous ghost tours. To address the ghost tours, just inside the gate to the left of the church building is a small sign stating, “The only ghost at the church is the Holy Ghost.” One of the more recent paranormal events took place in 1987 when a photographer snapped a few pictures just inside the gate. When the pictures were developed, he was shocked to see the image of a woman kneeling on a grave. Further research has indicated that the grave is that of a socialite who had passed nearly a century before. The photograph was taken on the anniversary of her death. 6, 20, 21, 35

SOUTHEND BREWERY (161 East Bay Street) As you pass the Southend Brewery, look towards the third floor windows. Ill-fated businessman, George Poirer was looking through these windows as he took his life in 1885. His body was discovered hanging from the rafters here after being seen by a passerby the following morning. Poirer was upset over losing his fortune when a ship he had invested in burned on its way out of Charleston Harbor. 

Southend Brewery, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

This building was built in 1880 for F. W. Wagner & Company. Paranormal activity has been reported throughout the building after its conversion to a brewery and restaurant. In addition to the occasional vision of someone hanging on the upper floors, restaurant staff have heard spectral voices and experienced odd breezes. 7, 10, 19, 20

Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

TOMMY CONDON’S IRISH PUB (160 Church Street) On the floor around the bar of this Irish pub, a metal track still runs reminding visitors of this building’s original use: as a candy factory. According to Denise Roffe, this building is apparently a warehouse for ghosts. She notes that a certain section of the restaurant feels very uneasy to guests and staff alike, while the women’s restroom and the kitchen also play host to spirits. 21

UNITARIAN CHURCH AND CHURCHYARD (4 Archdale Street) A lady in white walks through the garden-like churchyard here. Over the years, a story has arisen saying that this woman was one of the loves of the great American writer, Edgar Allen Poe. Poe did spend some time here and the connection has been made that the woman was celebrated in Poe’s poem, “Annabel Lee.” There is no real connection that can be made, but the Lady in White still takes regular strolls through the churchyard here.

Interior of the Unitarian Church, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

This historic churchyard is one of the most magnificent places to sit and contemplate in the city of Charleston. Be sure to also see the interior of the church here. The fan vaulted ceiling is magnificent. 10, 20, 24

URBAN OUTFITTERS (FORMERLY THE GARDEN THEATRE) (371 King Street) Walk in to this store and look up at the magnificent ceiling. This building was once the Garden Theatre, a vaudeville theatre built in 1917. The theatre was restored in the 1980s as a theatre, though most of the fitting were removed when the building was converted for commercial use in recent years. The spirit of an African-American man, possibly a former usher, has been seen within the building. 7, 20, 21

Further Afield

ANGEL OAK PARK (3688 Angel Oak, John’s Island) Considered one of the oldest living things on the East Coast, it is hard to not feel the benevolent energy emanating from this mighty tree. There is evidence that this tree has served as a meeting spot for Native Americans, slaves and slave owners whose spirits still remain among the massive branches. See my article for further information and sources.

ARTHUR RAVENEL JR. BRIDGE (US 17 over the Cooper River) Rising over the old buildings of Charleston is the majestic Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, the third longest cable-stay bridge in the Western Hemisphere which connects Charleston and Mount Pleasant. This bridge replaced two bridges: the John P. Grace Memorial Bridge opened in 1929 and the Silas N. Pearman Bridge which opened in 1966.

The John P. Grace Memorial Bridge was the scene of a terrible accident in 1946. A drifting cargo ship rammed the bridge ripping a 240-foot section. As the ship destroyed a section of the bridge a green Oldsmobile with a family of five was traveling over. The car dropped into the water killing the family. The bridge was repaired and continued to be used for many years, though there were reports of an odd green Oldsmobile seen on the bridge with a family of five inside, all staring straight ahead with lifeless eyes. Since the bridge’s demolition, the sightings of the car have stopped. 10, 22, 31, 34

DRAYTON HALL (3380 Ashley River Road) Of all the great homes in Charleston, perhaps no house is described with as many superlatives, and deservedly so, than Drayton Hall. The form nominating this structure to the National Register of Historic Places describes it as “without question, one of the finest of all surviving plantation houses in America.” The house remains in a remarkable state of preservation having been changed very little since its construction in 1738.

According to Ed Macy and Geordie Buxton’s Haunted Charleston, a psychic visiting this home in 2000 saw the bodies of four men dangling from the branches of the majestic oaks that line the approach to the house from the Ashley River. She stated that these men had been hung on orders from William Henry Drayton for their fealty to George III, during the American Revolution. Drayton’s spirit may also be among the spirits still wafting about this estate. Docents and visitors have reported seeing a man peering from the windows of the house and walking the avenue of oaks. 8, 28

FORT SUMTER (Charleston Harbor) On April 12, 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired here when Confederates led an attack on this fort in Charleston Harbor. Interestingly, no one was killed in the initial bombardment of the fort. After the surrender, the Union commander, Major Robert Anderson, asked that his men be allowed to perform a 100-gun salute to the American flag before it was lowered. During that salute a pile of cartridges exploded wounding six men, two of whom died later of their injuries. One of those men, Private Daniel Hough is believed to return as a smoky form. His possible visage can also be seen in the flag of the Palmetto Guard that was raised in the flag’s place. 15, 26, 32

PATRIOT’S POINT – USS YORKTOWN (40 Patriot’s Point Road, Mount Pleasant) Just days before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the keel of this fighting lady was laid. Just two years later, in 1943, this grand grey ship entered service. She fought in the Pacific during World War II and the Vietnam War. Since the ship’s retirement in 1973 and its donation to Patriot’s Point, guests and staff have had numerous paranormal experiences. See my article for further information and sources.



  1. Bordsen, John. (10 October 2010) “Find the most haunted places in these Carolina towns. Dispatch-Argus.
  2. Buxton, Geordie. (October 2013) “You are here.” Charleston Magazine.
  3. Dyas, Ford. (24 October 2012) “See the real ghosts at these haunted hotels. Charleston City Paper.
  4. Salvo, Rob. (11 April 2011) “Legends and ghoulish traditions of the Library Society. Charleston Mercury.
  5. Spar, Mindy. (26 October 2002) “Local haunts among treats for Halloween.” The Post and Courier.


  1. Brown, Alan. (2010) Haunted South Carolina. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books.
  2. Buxton, Geordie & Ed Macy. (2001) The Ghosts of Charleston. NYC: Beaufort Books.
  3. Buxton, Geordie & Ed Macy. (2004) Haunted Charleston. Charleston, SC: History Press.
  4. Buxton, Geordie & Ed Macy. (2005) Haunted Harbor: Charleston’s Maritime Ghosts and the Unexplained. Charleston, SC: History Press.
  5. Caskey, James. (2014) Charleston’s Ghosts: Hauntings in the Holy City. Savannah, GA: Manta Ray Books.
  6. Davis, Joanne. (2005) “Circular Church Cemetery.” in Jeff Belanger’s The Encyclopedia of Haunted Places. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page.
  7. Graydon, Nell S. (1969) South Carolina Ghost Tales. Beaufort, SC: Beaufort Book Shop.
  8. Johnson, Tally. (2013) Civil War Ghosts of South Carolina. Cincinnati, OH. Post Mortem Paranormal.
  9. Kermeen, Francis. (2002) Ghostly Encounters: True Stories of America’s Haunted Hotels and Inns. NYC: Warner Books.
  10. Manley, Roger. (2007) Weird Carolinas. NYC: Sterling.
  11. Martin, Margaret Rhett. (1963) Charleston Ghosts. Columbia, SC University of South Carolina Press.
  12. Mould, David R. and Missy Loewe. (2006) Historic Gravestone Art of Charleston, South Carolina 1695-1802. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.
  13. Pickens, Cathy. (2007) Charleston Mysteries: Ghostly Haunts in the Holy City. Charleston, SC: History Press.
  14. Pitzer, Sara. (2013) Haunted Charleston: Scary Sites, Eerie Encounters and Tall Tales. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press.
  15. Poston, Jonathan H. (1997) The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.
  16. Roffe, Denise. (2010) Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina. Atglen, PA: Schiffer.
  17. Turnage, Sheila. (2001) Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair.
  18. Ward, Kevin Thomas. (2014) South Carolina Haunts. Atglen, PA: Schiffer.
  19. Workers of the Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration. South Carolina: A Guide to the Palmetto State. NYC: Oxford University Press, 1941.
  20. Zepke, Terrence. (2004) Best Ghost Tales of South Carolina. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press.

National Register of Historic Places Nomination Forms

  1. Bull, Elias B. (2 January 1972) Dock Street Theatre.
  2. Dillon, James. (August 1976) Drayton Hall.
  3. Fant, Mrs. James W. (16 May 1970) Old Citadel.


  1. Aiken-Rhett House Museum.” Historic Charleston Foundation. Accessed 12 May 2015.
  2. Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 12 May 2015.
  3. Battle of Fort Sumter.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 12 May 2015.
  4. Ghost Sightings.” Battery Carriage House Inn. Accessed 31 October 2010.
  5. John P. Grace Memorial Bridge.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 12 May 2015.
  6. Our History.” Philip’s Church. Accessed 22 February 2011.
  7. Queen Street Hospitality.” 82 Queen. Accessed 12 May 2015.
  8. Riviera Theatre.” Cinema Treasures. Accessed 12 May 2015.
  9. South Carolina State Arsenal.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 12 May 2015.
  10. Theodosia Burr Alston.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 12 May 2015.