Legends and Haunts in Historic Charleston

Charleston’s past is rich with ghost stories and haunting tales passed down for generations. Your Charleston Carriage Works guide knows the Holy City inside out and is looking forward to sharing a few thrilling tales with you. We find that people always love to hear stories about Charleston’s past residents and they’re are fascinated by ghost stories, especially around Halloween.

Is Charleston haunted, and if so, where? From the pirates who frequented the harbor to the gracious houses near the coast, and from the old graveyards to the deep-rooted superstitions of Creole Gullah culture, Charleston has produced some of the South’s most famous ghost stories. These are a few of the spots you might see on your next visit to Charleston that will most likely give you some goose bumps, chills, and thrills.

Old Charleston Jail

old charleston jail

One look and it’s not hard to see why the old jail is Charleston’s most haunted building. For 137 years, this fortress-like building held convicted criminals, 19th-century pirates and Civil War prisoners right in the heart of the city. You’ll ear about local hotel owners Lavinia and John Fisher who were hung at the scaffold in front of the jail while still protesting their innocence. Did they trick overnight guests into drinking poisoned tea? The story goes that Lavinia’s ghost still haunts the jail and can be seen wearing her wedding dress that she asked to wear for her hanging.

Unitarian Church Graveyard

charleston ghost tours

Many Charlestonians insist that the Unitarian Church cemetery is haunted by Anna Ravenel, the daughter of a well-to-do local doctor, who died of yellow fever in 1828 aged 14. Placed in an unmarked grave to thwart attention from a young soldier who was the object of her desires, legend has it that she wanders still among the gravestones where the couple once secretly met. Anna is widely believed to be the subject of Edgar Allan Poe’s last poem,   “Annabel Lee”. There has been no proof that Anna was Poe’s lost love, but it is more than coincidental that he was stationed as a soldier at Fort Moultrie in Charleston at the same time.

Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon

charleston ghost tours

Few of the nation’s surviving 18th century public buildings have a fascinating and storied past, steeped in American history that are equal to Charleston’s Old Exchange. Major events that occurred here include a reading of The Declaration of Independence from the balcony, ratification of the U.S. Constitution, and banquets within the elegant Great Hall with the our nation’s founding fathers. However, 17th century colonists held lawless pirates, British soldiers and criminals awaiting execution in chains deep within the dark dungeons beneath the building and for decades, and slaves were sold at a market here. It’s been said that visitors can hear sounds that resemble dragging a ball and chain made by the lingering ghosts from centuries before.

Battery Carriage House Inn

charleston ghost tours

Would you spend the night in a haunted hotel? If so, ask about Room 8 and Room 10 in the house that was an active artillery installation during the siege of Charleston. It’s said that a headless torso of a Civil War soldier haunts one room. The hotel staff says the other is called “The Gentleman Ghost,” and is the spirit of a college student who leapt to his death from the inn’s roof during the early 19th century when his family owned this house.

Dock Street Theatre

charleston ghost tours

Does the ghost of prostitute Nettie Dickerson haunt the second floor of America’s first theater? Dressed in an elegant red gown, wearing a grimaced expression on her once lovely face, the ghost of troubled Nettie has been seen by the theater’s staff and performers. In conversation with her St. Philip’s Church pastor, Nettie lost her life on the balcony when a bolt of lightning struck her during a storm. It has also been said the 19th century actor Junius Brutus Booth, the father of Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth, roams the theater at night.

Who knows what spirits your Charleston visit will stir? Our Charleston Carriage Works guides are looking forward to escorting you on the best carriage tour Charleston, South Carolina has to offer.