As you may know, Charleston (frequently referred to as the “Holy City” for its numerous churches and cemeteries) is thought by many to be one of the most haunted cities in the country. According to experts in the field of Parapsychology, the main reasons why certain cities have a higher incidence of encounters with restless spirits, is their abundant history, seismic fault zones, strong magnetic fields (such as power lines), the flow of underground water, and high concentrations of iron ore. This makes Charleston a hotspot of supernatural activity! Since there are so many haunted places in Charleston (due in part to its wealth of history), it is difficult to list them all! Here, however, are a few ghost stories and places that are believed to be the most haunted, with frequent sightings:
Both of the photographs above were taken at the graveyard of the Circular Congregational Church. This is graveyard is Charleston’s oldest burial grounds, containing monuments that date back as early as 1695.
Dock Street Theatre: This structure was completed somewhere around 1736. It was known as the Planter’s Hotel and a number of notable persons worked and patronized the hotel. It is said that, among several spirits that wander the building, are one man and one woman in particular. The male ghost, clothed in formal apparel, is thought to be the 19th-century actor, Junius Brutus Booth, father of John Wilkes Booth, notorious assassin of President Abraham Lincoln. Junius Booth was a frequent patron of the hotel, while performing in Charleston. It is said he had a drinking problem, as well as some psychological issues, and one day he went berserk and beat his manager to near death with a fire iron, chasing him throughout the halls of the hotel. The very next day he performed as if nothing happened. These days, it is reported that the spirit of Booth can be seen watching rehearsals from the balcony.
Image above is an old depiction of the Dock Street Theater. Image above taken from the Charleston Stage website.
Another restless spirit who inhabits this building, is known to locals as, Nettie. She is a nameless woman who frequented the area in the 1800s and was employed by the hotel as a “lady of the night,” if you will. Although there are a few different outlooks on her eventual demise, it is most widely said she was struck by lightening while standing on her porch, and was instantly killed. She is almost always seen from the waist up. When the building was completely gutted in the 1930s, the floors were raised and it is believed that she floats around on what would have been the original flooring. She can be seen wandering the second floor backstage hall (former hotel rooms) and the current drawing room (the former ballroom and social room). She is mostly spotted by men, and likes to chase them around the building!
Battery Carriage House Inn: Many paranormal sightings have been reported at the Battery Carriage House Inn. Most notable are the headless torso, the gentleman ghost, and a strange, phantom glow that some guests claim to have witnessed. The glow appears in the bathroom and sitting room of one room in particular. Sometimes the glow is accompanied by shadows of people seeming to gather in the room. Another popular ghost who is frequently sighted here is the headless torso. Believed to be from the Civil War era, legend has it that he was a soldier who was involved in a munitions accident when a large battery of guns blew up (historically, Charleston was an active artillery instillation during the Civil War). He has been known to make growling noises when approached. Although, very frightening to some guests, there is no evidence that the torso means harm!
Image above taken from the Battery Carriage House Inn website.
Then there is the gentleman ghost who emits more of a feeling of refinement and calm, than he does fear, and has more of a passion for the female clientele. A wispy apparition, floating through the closed door, he has been known to lie down in the bed beside female guests and put his arm around their shoulder. Startled, some women scream and he simply gets up, walks through the wall, and disappears. It is thought that perhaps he was a previous occupant or owner of the home. He was a sensitive young man, but he took his life by jumping from the roof, for some unknown reason (by the way, this inn has so many reported sightings that they now offer a package that includes staying in the most haunted room of the inn!).
Frequently featured on television ghost shows, Charleston is one of the most active paranormal regions in the world. There are many haunted ghost tours offered in the Charleston area that are not limited to inns, hotels, and previous homes, but other places as well, such as graveyards, alleys, etc. Many hotel packages include a ghost tour, so check it out. If you are a ghost hunter, or perhaps just want to see for yourself, you must visit the Holy City or you are missing out on a mecca for the supernatural!
Can’t get enough of the spooky side of Charleston? Charleston Harbor Tours offers a weekly Murder Mystery Cruise aboard the authentic paddleboat, The Carolina Queen, where guests watch as a 1920s murder mystery unfolds before them. Click here for more information about this exciting Charleston murder mystery cruise (see a picture below for a sneak peak!)