Top five most haunted places of Charleston

by Kye Allen

Photo by Kye Allen.

Since the founding of Charleston in 1670, there has been an immense amount of tangible history within the city’s walls.

Charleston has served as the seat of much stress, death and turmoil over the past 350 years. 

In a city that has been the site of slave trade, piracy, natural disasters, fires and landmarks of both the civil and revolutionary wars, would it be suprising to not have a spiritual  presence? Why would it come as a surprise that Charleston is regularly placed in the top five most haunted cities in America?

Many streets and buildings still bear the burdens of this history years later. Their brazen display of charred rafters, bricks permanently imprinted with fingerprints of their unwilling creators, and stucco walls slowly receding only to show scars left by musket balls. Decades of history hidden only by a faint sea of green ivy.

A walk through Charleston will leave many travelers speechless from the beauty, but for many others over the years, their speechlessness was caused by horrors faced on the peninsula. Death was the only thing that gave their speechlessness a voice. 

It is hard to see this history of pain through the rose colored glasses crafted on the backs of years of a tourist driven industry. 

Come explore the top five most haunted locations in Charleston and experience the spiritually mediated first-hand account of historical events of this incredible city. 

Dock Street Theater, 135 Church St.

With the Dock Street Theater tied to history as a hotel and then serving as a play hall, the common theme has always been providing a welcoming experience for all those inside. Why should the afterlife be any different?

Original construction of the building began in 1809 under the name of the Planter Hotel. For the next 100 years, the building would serve this original purpose in the city. By 1930, the building was sitting empty in disarray. In conjunction with the WPA the building was repurposed for a playhouse. 

This location provides visitors with not only beautiful views of the architecture, but also that of a lost soul known as Nettie. Nettie was an infamous prostitute that worked at the location during the days of the Planter Hotel. 

Nettie was struck by a bolt of lightning on the second story balcony while voicing her opposition to the  unobtainable high society class structure in Charleston. Many visitors still catch a glimpse of her infamous red dress and shadowy apparition that tantalizes us even after death.  

Old City Jail,  21 Magazine St. 

Would it be surprising that the city jail built in 1802 would be haunted…I mean would it really shock you? It proves to remain as one the most haunted locations in all of Charleston, and has been featured on countless paranormal cable programs. 

The jail was active until the year 1939, at which point the halls sat vacant for decades. 

Prior to the land being used as a jail, the property has always shared the theme of confinement and sorrow. With prior uses including a poor house, hospital and a slave work camp it is easy to see the sense of gloom and negatitvy surrounding the address of 21 Magazine

The jail has housed everyone from pirates, federal war criminals, murderers and high profile seriel killers such as Lavinia Fisher. 

During the operation of the jail, records seem to show that potentially up to 10,000 people lost their lives either in the jail or in the execution yard. This does not take into account any deaths on the property prior to the construction of the jail.

Currently, the willing visitors who enter the forum housed by centuries of unwilling captives have countless incidents with the prisoners serving more than one life sentence. Many visitors have caught sight of ghostly apparitions or allured by disembodied voices echoing down the vacant halls. 

The Unitarian Graveyard, 8 Archdale St.

8 Archdale holds the title as the oldest unitarian graveyard in the entire south, claiming its first permanent resident in 1772. 

Not much upkeep has taken place in the graveyard, this was done to let the dead reconnect with nature and find unity. 

The cemetery holds a special place on this list not only because of the age, but one of the most prestigious tenants said to haunt the graveyard is none other than Annabelle Lee. Annabelle Lee was the lover written about by famous poet Edgar Allen Poe during his stay at Fort Moultrie.

After a forced separation by Annabelle’s disapproving father, Annabelle succumbed to an illness without her true love there to hold her while she took her last breath. Much to his dismay, Edgar was not allowed to see Annabell or attend her funeral. .

If only to drive the wedge of separation further, Annabelle’s father refused to bury her with a headstone so Edgar could never find her. 

Many visitors claim to still see Anabell walking the graveyard in search of her long lost poet, perhaps for one last chance to feel her lover’s embrace. 

White point Garden, 2 Murray Blvd.

This park has played host to events in Charleston since the founding of the city in 1670.

The most notable however, was the hanging of nearly 50 pirates in 1718 in a public execution. The pirates were captured in an attempt to blockade the port of Charleston, under the leadership of Stede Bonnet. The bodies were hung from the trees for days in order to show a zero tolerance policy towards piracy. 

Stede Bonnet himself was also executed in the same park with his unfortunate companions only months later. Once the bodies had served their purpose as piracy scarecrows, they were thrown into the marsh and a seawall was placed over their lifeless bodies.

Many people claim to still see disembodied sailors, hear the final screams echoing through eternity or even catch a glimpse of a shadowy face in one of the sweeping moss-laiden oak branches that call the battery home. 

Charleston Old Exchange Building and Dungeon, 122 East Bay St.

The British constructed exchange building has remained a key influence in the city since its construction in 1774. The building has held various purposes such as a site of trade, post office, meeting hall and a dungeon for early law breakers in the city.

The exchange dungeon held famous fugitives such as Black Beard and Stede Bonnet, who attempted to claim stake to Charleston. 

Along with the long list of trade that took place within the walls, there was a darker trade taking place in plain day on the front steps, a trade of human life. Thousands of slaves were traded or sold, and families ripped apart instantly with a fate tied to the highest bidder. 

Years of pain, bondagde and turmoil will forever mark the old exchange building. It seems that many spirits still feel that bondage over a century later, with many guests reporting various hauntings on their visits. 

Visitors to the old exchange have reported ghostly voices in various parts of the building, a faint feeling of being watched from an unknown source and objects moving seemingly without cause. 

Visitors will be hard pressed to find any boredom on their trip to the old exchange building, with a plethora of earthly and spiritual markers to let any guest feel connected to Charleston history. 

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