The historical backdrop of Charleston, SC, 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 that Bulldog Tours specializes in Charleston Ghost Tours and will take you to visit these places…if you dare. 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.
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.
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: