The Haunted History of Charleston

The historical backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the longest and most differing of any group in the United States, spreading over many years. It was founded in 1670 and, although the city has had its low points, it is still thriving today and is currently one of the top tourist destinations in the U.S. Charleston was the leading city in the South from the time it was founded up to the Civil War. The city has survived fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding and war. There are several buildings that were important during these events, one of which is The Old Exchange Building, which has been standing since 1767. The Old Exchange is the home to a dungeon that was used to hold prisoners of war during the British siege in the Revolutionary War, and later housed pirates such as Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet. When you factor in the age of the city, and the number of people who died either from war or natural disaster, it’s no wonder that Charleston is considered one of the most haunted cities in the US. The best part about this haunted history is Bulldog Tours has got tours through these places.Dungeons Charleston South Carolina With such an eerie and dark past, it should not surprise you to know that almost every major building in Charleston has a ghost story. Some of the places are obvious. The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, for example, is one of the most haunted locations. As previously stated the dungeon housed POWs and pirates and it is said that their spirits remain tethered to the building. Another famously haunted location is the Old City Jail on Magazine Street where it is said that over 13000 people lost their lives. The Old City Jail has been featured on every major ghost program on TV and is considered the most haunted building in Charleston. Another well-known establishment is Poogan’s Porch restaurant, which is named after Poogan – the dog that still haunts the restaurant. Poogan will, according to some sources, rub against diners legs while they eat.Jail Tour Charleston South Carolina

Some haunted locations will surprise you, though; Places that are seemingly harmless. A few examples that come to mind include the Dock Street Theatre on Church Street, City Hall, and The Library Society building on King Street. I know what you’re thinking, “what’s the worst that can happen at a library?!” Well, the library society is haunted by a man in a bulky period coat. Several staffers report seeing him, plain as day, before he disappears from sight, he also reportedly plays with the microfilm during the day.

The Dock Street Theatre on Church Street was, originally, the Planters Hotel and has nearly 350 years of history to it. There are several ghosts said to haunt the Dock Street, but Nettie is the most frequently spotted. Nettie lived in the 1800s and was a prostitute who frequented the Planters Hotel. She is usually seen floating on the second floor of the theater wearing a red dress.

Charleston City Hall, located at 80 Broad Street, is said to be haunted by General P.G.T. Beauregard. Beauregard was a native of Louisiana and a General in the confederate army charged with the city’s defense during the attacks on Fort Sumter. Multiple guides, employees, and councilmen have reported seeing the General’s ghost overlooking the city council chambers from a second-floor balcony.Dock Street Theater, Charleston South Carolina
If you want to see a ghost the best way to go about it is to take photographs. There are professionals out there and a lot of recommendations on how to take the perfect ghost photo, but realistically any camera at any time can pick up a ghost. You do not have to be an expert. Ghosts are said to leave behind their energy which is almost thermodynamic and allows them to show up in photos. One expert recommends that you not use a flash when you take pictures as that will tend to create strange light reflections and give a “flash bounce” that could easily be mistaken as a ghostly image. If you do not have a steady hand you can use a tripod to steady the camera. If you suspect that a ghost is present, take 3-5 photos of the same spot and check for differences, subtle as they may be. Ghosts will show up as anything from orbs, to streaks of light (usually their energy in motion) to full figures or shadows.

Here is an example of a ghost photo:

Haunted Jail Charleston South Carolina

A Taste of Charleston

At Charleston Food Tours we offer a variety of tours around the city of Charleston with knowledgeable tour guides and delicious samples of Lowcountry cuisine. Join us as we walk, talk and taste our way through history! Our mission is to promote local artisan growers and producers and to help preserve South Carolina’s rich culinary heritage. On our exclusive culinary tours, you will experience the Lowcountry’s distinctive food and warm hospitality. These informative tours are ideal for casual fans of the culinary arts or the hardcore foodie in your life. It would be difficult to find a southern city better suited for culinary tourism than historic Charleston, SC. Our tours include the Savor the Flavors of Downtown Charleston tour, the Savor the Flavors of Upper King Street tour, the Chef’s Kitchen tour and the Charleston Dessert tour.Lowcountry Food Charleston South Carolina

On the Savor the Flavors of Downtown Charleston tour and the Savor the Flavors of Upper King Street Tour we will take you through the streets of Charleston stopping at favorite local restaurants and sampling a wide array of Lowcountry favorites. Our fully licensed tour guides will inform you on the history of the city, the evolution of food in the Charleston area and the origins of some of our favorite foods.

On the Downtown tour, we will take you to French Quarter hot spots such as Another Broken Egg, Lowcountry Bistro, Cumberland Smokehouse, and Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. On the Upper King Street tour, we visit trendy restaurants such as Vincent Chicco’s, Virginia’s on King, Smoke BBQ, and Cupcake. You will not leave either of these tours hungry! Typical tastings include grits, fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, BBQ, she-crab soup, cornbread, red rice,

crab dip, chicken and dumplings, collard greens, crabcake sliders, jambalaya, praline, and much more. These tours are a great way to experience the city and provide a unique historical perspective. They also allow you to try several foods that you might not have ordered on your own.Lowcountry Burger Charleston South Carolina

The Chef’s Kitchen tour is a special behind the scenes tour geared for the culinary enthusiast. On this tour, you will visit several great restaurants, including Magnolia’s, where you will explore the history of the restaurant, learn about the chef’s approach to culinary excellence, have the menus interpreted by a pro, and get a close-up peek at just what it takes to produce those fabulous meals. The Charleston Kitchen Tour begins with coffee and artisan pastries at a local coffee shop, Welkin Coffee. This is an excellent option for those who want an in-depth look into the mind of a chef, however, it is not a sampling tour. Some samples may be provided but they are not always guaranteed.

If you prefer sweet over savory then join us as we visit the finest dessert places frequented by Charleston locals on the Charleston Dessert Tour. Indulge in samples from the culinary artisans that create these delectable treats, including coconut cake, pralines, truffles, pecan pie, petit fours, and more. Our guides will regale you with notes about 18th-century traditions and the history of desserts and spices in the Lowcountry including their origins and original uses.

At Charleston Food Tours, we have worked diligently to showcase the places and foods that give Charleston its character. Lowcountry cuisine is like no other and taking a tour with us will give you a deeper understanding historically as to why the food here is so unique. You have heard about what Charleston has to offer, now get out and experience it with us! Your taste buds will thank you.

**Please note that the restaurants and samples on each tour will vary daily.

12 Must See Attractions For Your Trip To Charleston!

Charleston is quickly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US, and for good reason; the history, scenic landscapes, and amazing food are just a small part of what makes this city so charming. There are so many activities and places to see that it’s hard to condense everything into one trip but we at Bulldog Tours are here to help! We have compiled the 12 best must-see attractions and activities for a trip to Charleston to help you with your planning. (more…)

We Take You There!

Meet us at Charleston’s most haunted building, the controversial Old City Jail on Magazine Street, where ruthless criminals, pirates, murderers, rebellious slaves and Union prisoners of war were incarcerated. It is said that over 10,000 men, women, and even children suffered horrible deaths inside its decrepit walls before its federally mandated closure in 1939. Our Haunted Jail Tour will take you among these tabby walls that held some of the city’s most notorious convicts. None have been vindicated by history, but rather remembered as monsters. For some, like Lavinia Fisher, their guilt is subject to debate even today.

Backed by over 140 years of evil history, locals believe that spirits roam the halls at night, falsely declaring their innocence and demanding release from its torments.

Backed by over 140 years of evil history, locals believe that spirits roam the halls at night, falsely declaring their innocence and demanding release from its torments. Our unique tour gives you exclusive night time access to this American horror story, where you will discover the hidden tales of the Holy City’s most infamous landmark. This place has a dark history off the hook!

As you enter the jail, dimly lit halls will pull you headlong into perdition. You will mount stairs to the second floor and, on glancing back, just as you enter one of the gang cells of the main block, you will be overcome with the undeniable feeling that you have been watched the whole time. Winding passages will lead you up to the third floor where you will pass through grated doors secured with heavy bolts. Then, on the ground floor you will pass by the morgue, rooms set aside for solitary confinement and torture, and finally, a place guides call the “Dark Room” known for its heightened paranormal activity, including encounters with an insane inmate known only as “Animal”.

In 1820, Lavinia Fisher had been imprisoned here along with her husband John. According to legend, she was America’s first female serial killer. In a city that prides itself on firsts, Charleston proudly claims this gorgeous innkeeper and tavern owner as its own homegrown mass killer, accused of murdering countless wagon men traveling to Charleston to trade their furs. Tales of the Fishers include poisonous oleander tea, trap doors, multiple stabbings and burial of victims’ bodies around Six Mile Wayfarers Inn. According to legend, Lavinia was hanged in February 1822 wearing a white wedding dress. And her last words to the citizens of Charleston; “If any of you have a message for the devil, tell me now because in a moment I’ll be seeing him.”

In 1822, another notorious inmate, Denmark Vesey, a freeman who purchased his freedom from a Dutch slave trader after winning the local lottery, was held in the tower of the jail after unsuccessfully staging a slave rebellion. Afterward, free black seamen were incarcerated here, locked away until their ship set sail because such sailors, even if foreign born, were considered a threat by Charleston’s plantation elite.

During the Civil War, captured soldiers from the famed 54th Massachusetts Infantry were quartered in the jail after the failed attack on Battery Wagner in July 1863, along with hundreds of other Union soldiers. During its use as a POW camp, mosquitos, ticks, flies and lice took turns piercing the flesh of Union soldiers, who said that the ground around the jail visibly seethed with vermin.

George Rogers Clark Todd, the brother-in-law of Abraham Lincoln, served as a Confederate surgeon and treating physician to the Union soldiers. He was regarded by both sides as a profane, obscene and brutal man, torturing them by having them buckled and gagged until they died.

William Marcus was imprisoned here in 1906 and hanged in the yard shortly thereafter. Marcus was a railroad worker who stabbed his wife 42 times with an ice pick, leaving her body on a nearby beach.

Daniel Duncan was hanged in the yard in the summer of 1911 after being convicted of the murder of a King Street merchant, Max Lubelsky. Duncan allegedly crushed his skull with a board, but he maintained his innocence to the very end.

In 1913, a ten-year-old boy named Alonzo Small was imprisoned among the general inmate population for murder. Small and a group of his friends had commandeered a parked trolley car for a joy ride before colliding with another trolley, killing a passenger.

Sgt. Charles Long was held here until his execution in 1932. While serving at Ft. Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island, he hacked his wife and children to death with a hatchet, and then attempted suicide by slashing his throat and wrists.

Both on regular tours and during paranormal investigations conducted after midnight, guides as well as visitors have claimed that they were touched.

Do the dead prowl its halls and cells? Are apparitions visible in the dimly lit hallways? Do specters reveal themselves as circles of light in photographs? Do the dead create cold spots, make eerie noises and leave footprints in the dust on the jail’s floor? Both on regular tours and during paranormal investigations conducted after midnight, guides as well as visitors have claimed that they were touched. Some were tapped on the shoulder. Others claimed that two hands pressed against the sides of their faces as if someone were trying to keep them from entering a room. Doors close on their own accord, followed by footsteps. Some have seen a jailer with a rifle on the third floor, passing through the walls and heading towards them before vanishing in the shadows. Others have heard a mechanical dumbwaiter passing from floor to floor, even though it has not been operational for nearly a hundred years. For some, jewelry has vanished and then mysteriously reappeared before they leave the building. Unseen forces have knocked glasses off their faces. Cell phones call unknown numbers and batteries drain only to immediately and inexplicably recharge. A few have even experienced choking and shortness of breath. This tour is not for the lighthearted. It is definitely NOT recommended for children.

The Best Videos of Charleston’s Old City Jail

Charleston’s Old City Jail, one of the most haunted historical buildings in our country, has certainly caught the eye of Hollywood’s travel and paranormal fanatics. The jail first graced the silver screen in the mini-series, “Glory,” highlighting its use as an insane asylum during the Civil War. In recent years the jail has been investigated by “Ghost Hunters,” “Ghost Adventures,” “Paranormal State,” The Travel Channel, and “Ghost Brothers.” All the shows agreed: the jail is haunted!

When “Ghost Hunters” investigated the jail, scratches appeared on all the investigators’ bodies during this episode. A black mass also passed by on camera. They concluded the building was definitely haunted, and guests needed to treat it with respect because evil people were held there in life and their spirits should be treated as evil afterlife as well.

When “Ghost Adventures” explored Charleston’s most haunted building, they were successful in finding some very creepy evidence of what they believe is the ghost of Lavinia Fisher on their sound monitors. Check out the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” show at the Old City Jail in 2011.

Paranormal State” claimed they were in contact with the spirits of enslaved African Americans that were imprisoned in the jail. They said they found ghosts that felt as though they were being tortured and held against their will.

Samantha Brown of The Travel Channel toured the jail, saying “If you’re gonna be scared to death in the South, Bulldog Tours leads the most frightening ghost tour in all of Charleston, the Old City Jail.”

Some other notable videos regarding the jail are:

Still in doubt? Come see for yourself. Book one of our Haunted Jail Tours today.

Kicking Off the ‘Busy’ Season

We are excited to begin another full spring season at Bulldog Tours! March officially begins the busy season here in Charleston as we welcome the Charleston Wine + Food, which brings many tourists and locals out to downtown Charleston to frequent the city’s multitude of restaurants, shops and attractions.

Of course, Easter is in April so we’ll be welcoming families for a week of fun in Charleston. College spring breaks are often before Easter, so we notice more college students visiting the city as early as March.

St. Patrick’s Day is another holiday that brings people to Charleston to visit some of our wonderful Irish Pubs, such as Tommy Condon’s. Visitors – and locals – love to celebrate this festive holiday, so make your plans early. Easter weekend is a big one in the Holy City. Services in one of our many churches on the peninsula will be packed.

Runners in town for the Cooper River Bridge Run on April 1 will fill downtown Charleston and Marion Square, which is the finish line for this annual race. Last year, close to 30,000 people ran or walked in the event. You’ll be sure to see many runners at the local brunch spots afterward. And if you aren’t a part of the race, watch out for traffic entering and exiting the city for hours before and after the race.

As May gets underway, Charleston gets ready for summer and, by Memorial Day Weekend, the area’s restaurants, shops and attractions will be in full swing, ready to accept all the summer vacationers.

So here’s to another busy season in Charleston! Cheers!

Looking for Another ‘Best Of’ Kind of Year

The presidential election year is over, but we sure hope you aren’t tired of voting because we have just one more vote for you to cast. Vote for Bulldog Tours as Best Tour Company. That’s right, folks! The Charleston City Paper’s “Best of Charleston” contest is back, and we need your vote by Feb. 24. Find us in the Attractions and City Living Category under Best Tour Company. We’ve won every year since 2010, but what can we say? We love to win, and we hope to bring home the honors once again in 2017. You do not have to vote in multiple categories for your vote to count. Just vote! It’s quick and easy.

Wondering if we deserve to take home the title another year? Check out the Top 10 Reasons Bulldog Tours is the Best Tour Company in Charleston. We showcase the best of Charleston everyday as we give tours to visitors from around the world. It’s our specialty, and we take pride in our tours and our tour guides – some of the most experienced in the city. Check out this video if you need even more convincing.

If it’s been awhile since you experienced Bulldog’s hospitality, come join us for Free Night for Locals on Monday, Feb. 13. Pick from the Ghost and Graveyard Tour, the Dark Side of Charleston Tour or the Haunted Jail Tour at multiple times. These tours are for residents of Charleston, Dorchester or Berkeley counties – and you’ll need the ID to prove it. This offer is good for tours on Feb. 13 only; guests cannot reschedule to another night for free.

Groups of six or more must be booked under one reservation so the group can stay together. If you are touring with friends, make sure you let us know at the time of the reservation or we cannot guarantee the same tour. All groups will be called 48 hours in advance and numbers will have to be confirmed at that time. And, only one tour per person that night. Reservations are required. Call 843-722-8687 to reserve your spot. Space is limited and reservations go very fast.

We look forward to another great year touring our beautiful city with you!

Lavinia Fisher Night at Bulldog Tours

For the third year, we’ll be offering a special paranormal investigation of the Old City Jail on the anniversary of Lavina Fisher’s death, Feb. 18. This year, that day happens to fall on a Saturday, so we are offering the investigation on both Friday and Saturday nights (Feb. 17 and Feb. 18). The investigations will begin at 11 p.m. and last until 2 a.m. Cost is $35 per person. Space is limited and reservations are going fast. We highly recommend calling as soon as possible to grab your spot.

In 1820, Lavina was hanged for her crimes as the first female serial killer in the United States. Reportedly a beautiful woman, Lavina was married to John Fisher. Together, they operated a hotel, the Six Mile House. During their time managing the hotel, the police received many reports about disappearing hotel guests. There are many versions of the story as to how Lavinia and John murdered the unlucky guests, but two of the more popular accounts were that she poisoned their tea and that once they fell asleep her husband would stab them or that they would pull a lever so their bed dropped them into a pit with spikes.

6 Mile House

Redention of the Six Mile House by Juliee Boatright

There are stories of a few who managed to escape the Fishers, which is how the murdering couple was ultimately captured and held in the Old City Jail until they were both publically hanged.

We look forward to sharing these stories and more during our special paranormal investigation on the anniversary of Lavina Fisher’s death. Please call 843-722-8687 for reservations and more information.

Looking Forward to 2017!

jail-bw-front

We are really looking forward to 2017 at Bulldog Tours. Some of our plans for the new year include:

  • Free Night for Locals – This year’s Free Night for Locals is Monday, Feb. 13. Locals are required to present ID at check-in. Locals must be from Charleston, Dorchester or Berkeley Counties.
  • Lavinia Fisher Night – Join us for a special paranormal investigation of the Old City Jail on the anniversary of Lavinia Fisher’s death on Feb. 18. The three-hour event starts at 10 p.m. and the cost is $25 per person. Come and investigate with us! Call 843-722-8687 for information and reservations.
  • Military Night – Watch for a special military night in February or early March. All active and retired military will enjoy half-off tickets for our history and nighttime ghost tours. More information to come!
  • Ladies Night – We’re working on a special springtime event for the ladies. We’ll be offering half-off tickets for ladies on all our night tours, but especially our Dark Side of Charleston Tour and our pub tours! More to come on this special event as well.
  • Mother’s Day – All moms can tour for free on Mother’s Day (nighttime and history tours).
  • Father’s Day – All dads can tour for free on Father’s Day (nighttime and history tours).
  • Summer Photo Contest – This past summer’s photo contest was a huge hit! We look forward doing it again this summer and seeing visitors’ great Charleston photos. The contest winner receives a free trip to Charleston, including two nights at a downtown hotel, dinner for two at a downtown restaurant and tickets for our tours. More information to come!
  • Report Card Program – At the end of the summer we will offer free tickets for kids if they send us a photo of their all A’s and B’s report cards. Please stay tuned to our Facebook page for more information this summer.
  • Veterans Day – Military tour free on this holiday for our night and history tours.
  • Black Friday Special – Buy a gift card for a future tour (not for Black Friday) at half off – that includes culinary, history and ghost tours.
  • Holiday Strolls Tour – Every year we offer a special holiday Charleston Strolls Tour during the entire month of December. We highlight downtown decorations and special Charleston Christmas history tales and facts. The tour ends at the beautifully decorated Mills House Hotel where guests enjoy Christmas cookies and egg nog.

We look forward to all that 2017 has to offer. Stay tuned as we add other events throughout the year, including special philanthropy opportunities. Thank you for making 2016 a great year! We hope to see you soon!

Stay in touch with use via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

6 Ways to Do New Year’s Eve in Charleston

happy-2017
For many, 2016 has been less than favorable — but regardless of what fortunes or misfortunes you encountered, ushering in the new year should be an event to remember. Whether that means partying all night with a killer view of the harbor while on an aircraft carrier built during WWII or steering clear of booze in favor of good, clean family fun, there’s a New Year’s Eve celebration in Charleston designed just for you and your crew. So bid goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017 at one of these lively, local events.

Yorktown Countdown, Patriot’s Point
Claiming to the Charleston’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebration, the Yorktown Countdown loads up the historical aircraft carrier built during WWII with partygoers and gets down until the countdown. Party bands and DJs will be aboard playing dance, funk, rock, hip-hop, 80s, and Top 40 hits. First Aboard packages include full bar, snacks and access to the indoor airplane hangar and outdoor fantail area. Captain packages get you all that plus access to the rooftop flight deck (tented and heated).

Circa 1886 – New Year’s Eve Dinner
Surprise your special someone with an evening of romance, luxury and indulgence so grand it’s usually found only in novels. Enjoy gracious accommodations for two in a Mansion Room, a 3 course dinner (excluding beverages and gratuity) at Circa 1886, a stunning floral arrangement, a bottle of champagne, and candlelight turndown service with chocolate-covered strawberries.

Holiday Magic, Marion Square
If you’re looking for a free and family-friendly affair this New Year’s Eve, look no further than Marion Square. It’s a non-alcoholic event, so don’t expect a toast but what you will find is a something for everyone, including live music and activities for the wee ones. The family fun starts at 4 p.m. and winds down at 10:30 p.m., so you can ring in 2017 in the comfort of home after a full day of high-energy celebration.

Spiritline Cruise, Patriot’s Point
How would you like to sail into the New Year on a Spiritline Cruise? This unique event gets you a four-course dinner created by Chef Shawn Eustace onboard the elegantly decorated vessel of Spirit of Carolina. Possibly the most romantic way to ring in 2017, the NYE cruise takes you through the harbor with sparkling views of the city and the Ravenel Bridge. Boarding time is 9:30 p.m. at Patriot’s Point and the boat lands again at 12:30, moments after the champagne toast.

Snyder New Year’s Eve Grand Ball
It’s a ball, y’all. This one’s for anyone who wants to break out their black tie and gown. Not only is Snyder holding their annual New Year’s Eve Grand Ball, they’re doing it at the South Carolina Aquarium. Entertainment includes piano pop and the soothing, killer croons of David Higgins Band plus award-winning local DJ Natty Heavy spinning in the Great Ocean Room. Tickets are only for adults 21 years of age and older and they get you open bar access plus hors d’oeuvres and a champagne toast, of course.

The Rose Ball
At the Rose Ball, you won’t find any football but rather fancy-than-thou attire and a lot of partying down at the Johnson Hagood Stadium, home of the Citadel Bulldogs. This uber-upscale New Year’s Eve show includes light hors d’oeuvres and open bar plus music from DJ Cato K from Miami plus the soulful funk of one of Charleston’s best voices, Quiana Parler & Friends. VIP table service is also available.