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Charleston Travel Guide

History and Hauntings: 10 Places to See Charleston’s Ghosts

Have a brush with the supernatural in one of the most haunted cities in the country.

Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the most haunted cities in America, and stories of the supernatural are as abundant here as the fresh seafood. From historic legends of hanged pirates whose spirits roam city parks late at night to more modern tales like the friendly phantom pooch that brushes against the legs of unsuspecting diners, we’ve got the best spots to visit in the Holy City if you want to catch a glimpse of a ghost.

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Old Charleston Jail

Built in 1802, this large castle-like building housed thousands of notorious criminals through 1939, including pirates, Civil War prisoners, and Lavinia Fisher, the first female serial killer. Countless criminals died within the confines of the jail, and their spirits are said to still linger, earning the site a reputation as the most haunted place in Charleston. Visitors claim to hear eerie shouts and whispers and witness slamming doors, and the jail has even been featured on numerous paranormal investigative television shows

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Angel Oak

At more than 500 years old, the breathtaking Angel Oak on John’s Island stands 67 feet tall and has branches that extend nearly 200 feet. It’s one of the world’s oldest living organisms and has long been a draw for daytime visitors who photograph the massive tree and relax in its 17,200 square feet of shade. But nighttime visits to the Angel Oak are a very different experience. The tree is rumored to be inhabited by numerous spirits who venture out when the sun sets. There have been reports of glowing lights appearing in the branches and fiery apparitions emerging from the tree.

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Unitarian Church Cemetery

This centuries-old cemetery is unique in that while its paths are maintained, the rest of the graveyard is allowed to grow wild. Trees and shrubs sprout among graves and many headstones are overgrown with vines as nature attempts to reclaim the space. The cemetery is undoubtedly beautiful and eerie, but it’s the story of a young girl named Annabel Lee that lures many people to stroll among the graves. According to legend, Annabel Lee fell in with a sailor—whom some claim was a young Edgar Allan Poe—but her father didn’t approve of the relationship and locked her in her room to keep them apart. Annabel Lee soon became ill and passed away and was buried in the cemetery in an unmarked grave. It’s said her ghost walks the cemetery’s paths late at night, and many believe she was the inspiration behind one of Poe’s most well-known poems.

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Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon

This historic building was completed in 1771 and served a variety of functions for centuries, including that of a military prison during the American Revolution. Today, the building is a museum that details the Old Exchange’s past and shares the history of the numerous patriots and pirates who were chained in the building’s dungeon. While touring the dungeon, people have reported hearing screams and feeling the touch of phantom hands.

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Poogan’s Porch

This popular Charleston restaurant situated inside a Victorian home is known for its biscuits, grits, and sweet tea—and also for the ghosts that call it home. The ghost of Zoe St. Amand, the house’s previous owner, is said to be the reason why the local police receive so many calls about a woman in black trapped inside the restaurant. But she’s not the only ghost who’s said to roam among the tables: The restaurant’s namesake, a pooch named Poogan that died in 1979, has been known to brush against the legs of diners as they eat.

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Powder Magazine

Built in 1713, the Powder Magazine is South Carolina’s oldest government building, and it was used as an arsenal during the American Revolution. It’s said that those who died fighting in the structure never left, and visitors claim to sense their spirits and see shadowy figures moving about the building, which now functions as a museum.

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Dock Street Theater

One of the country’s oldest theaters is also home to many ghosts, but the one most frequently witnessed is that of a specter known as Nettie. The original Dock Street Theater was destroyed by a fire in 1740, and in 1809 the Planter’s Hotel was built in its place. A sex worker named Nettie frequented the hotel during the 1800s, and legend has it that she was struck by lightning and killed while standing on a hotel balcony one night. Her ghost now wanders the theater in a bright red dress.

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John E. Berry Residence Hall

This College of Charleston residence hall was built on the site of an orphanage that burned down in the early 1900s, and when the dormitory was constructed in 1988, residents were tormented by a sudden eruption of fire alarms. Since then, there have been reports of children’s laughter echoing down hallways and through the courtyards, as well as the sound of marbles being dropped upon floors late at night.

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Battery Carriage House Inn

Those who book a room at this hotel are very likely to have a supernatural experience when they spend the night at “Charleston’s most haunted inn.” Numerous guests have reported feeling watched while alone in their rooms, and many of them have written to the inn’s owner to share their paranormal experiences, which include moving objects and the sudden appearance of glowing orbs, headless bodies, and shadowy figures.

INSIDER TIPWant to increase your chances of a ghostly visitor? Request to stay in a room known for hauntings, such as Room 8, which is known as the Headless Torso Room.


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White Point Garden

White Point Garden is located in a historic waterfront park on the Charleston Battery and is full of leafy trees, ocean breezes, and the souls of the dead, according to ghost hunters. Numerous pirates were hanged here during the 18th century, and when night falls, it’s said screams can be heard echoing through the night and ghostly faces appear among the trees.

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