Charleston, South Carolina, a city steeped in history and southern charm, holds a lesser-known title: one of America’s most haunted cities. Beneath its genteel surface, a spectral world thrives, filled with eerie tales and ghostly apparitions.
From the lingering spirits of tragic spinsters and amorous gentlemen to the chilling echoes of mass murderers and mutilated apparitions, Charleston’s spectral landscape is as diverse as it is haunting.
Join us as we uncover the most haunted places in Charleston, SC, where history and hauntings intertwine, creating a tapestry of tales that will chill your spine and ignite your imagination.
1. Blind Tiger Pub
During the Prohibition era, the Blind Tiger Pub served as a speakeasy. These days it is a popular bar which also just so happens to be one of the most haunted places in Charleston! According to staff members there are quite a few ghosts hanging around and they are certainly not shy about making their presence known!
A former manager claims that while he was closing up one night, two friends were sitting at a table in the bar waiting on him. Suddenly, all three of them saw a lady in black clothing appear and walk across the bar area before promptly disappearing again!
We can’t say for sure if this is why the manager is no longer working there or not, but it certainly gave him a scare! Some of the regular customers have also had their own paranormal encounters at The Blind Tiger.
A few have reported having their hair pulled when nobody is around. Others have reported phantom footsteps and the sound of leaves crunching by the back patio, despite the fact that there is nobody nearby!
2. 20 South Battery
Formerly the Battery Carriage House Inn, this infamous building is known for playing host to several different ghosts.
There are two rooms in the 1843 inn that are said to be particularly haunted. Room number 8 is said to be haunted by ‘the headless torso’ which is every bit as disturbing as it sounds!
This terrifying apparition of a torso missing its head and legs appears in the room and moans in a menacing fashion!
Some people who have investigated the history of the inn have come to the conclusion that this grisly apparition is a Civil War soldier, or at least what is left of him!
The spirit that is said to haunt room number 10 is much more friendly. Known as ‘the Gentleman Caller’ this ghost has a fondness for the ladies.
Women who sleep in this room often experience his presence as he gently strokes their hair while they are going to sleep. Although initially startling, some ladies have described it as a soothing experience!
3. Sword Gates House
Sword Gates House was built back in 1810 as a private residence. However, it later became Madame Talvande’s Girls School.
The school was well known for being extremely strict and the headmistress kept a close eye on her girls. However, one of the girls still managed to conduct a secret affair with her boyfriend.
Madame Talvande was livid when she discovered this and erected the tall gate and fence around the school to keep the boy and others like him out!
It seems like she has taken that mission to heart for all of eternity because today people still see her ghostly figure standing just inside the gates glaring at those passing by. As if making sure no boys are attempting to gain entry!
4. Poogan's Porch Restaurant
Poogan’s Porch restaurant was originally a Victorian-style residence which was built in 1888. It has long been considered one of the most haunted houses in Charleston. Thanks to the presence of a lady in a long white nightgown, who is often seen staring out of the windows long after the restaurant has closed for the night.
This is thought to be the spirit of Zoe Amand, a spinster school teacher who died in the house in 1954. Her presence has also been felt by diners during opening hours.
Among the reports of strange activity are instances of her apparition, appearing in the dining area and ladies being tickled by her in the restroom!
5. Dock Street Theatre
The land on which the Dock Street Theatre sits has a fascinating history attached to it. The original theatre burned down and was replaced by Planter’s Hotel, which has since been converted back into a theatre. It is also said to be one of the most haunted buildings in Charleston.
Actors and audience members alike have seen apparitions of spirits wander across the stage or lurk in the rafters. These could be the spirits of those who died in the 1809 fire that destroyed the building.
One of the spirits has been identified as actor Junius Booth. Who seems to be as yet unwilling to give up his time on the stage! It has also been claimed that there are a couple of ghosts still lurking from the building’s hotel days in the form of a prostitute named Nettie Dickerson.
6. Fort Sumter
It is more or less expected that battlegrounds are going to have at least some measure of paranormal activity and Charleston’s Fort Sumter is certainly no different. Even though there were actually no Union soldiers killed in the battle here against the Confederates.
There was one fatality, but the death was a result of a misfire. When the troops were saluting their flag one final time before it was replaced with the Rebel flag! Could this be the man that many visitors report seeing?
Witnesses describe the apparition that haunts Fort Sumpter as a man in an old uniform similar to what Union troops would have worn. His appearance is usually accompanied by the distinctive smell of gunpowder, so it certainly seems likely!
7. Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
The Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon was once used to house pirates. Who had been caught and were awaiting their trial and inevitable execution.
They were chained up in the dungeon area and denied food or water. All they could do as the energy drained from their bodies was moan in either protest or discomfort.
It is that sound, that the current staff say can still be heard, drifting up through the floorboards, sometimes accompanied by the sound of chains clanking!
The pirates are not the only ones haunting the building. Staff also describe hearing footsteps above them, on the upper floors when nobody is there, which would likely be the spirits of long-dead patriots.
8. Bocci's Italian Restaurant
A restaurant is not usually the first place that springs to mind when you think of a haunted building. Nevertheless, Bocci’s Italian Restaurant has more than earned a place on this list of Charleston’s most haunted spots!
It is said to be home to one spirit who hates locked doors! Reports suggest that whenever doors are locked, the entity will start pounding on them and has even been known to unlock and push the doors open!
It is not known why the resident spook, has such an aversion to being kept under lock and key!
9. Old Charleston Jail
One of the things that Charleston is known for, is being home to the first female serial killer in the United States. We are of course, talking about Ms. Lavinia Fisher. Who along with her husband John ran a motel-style establishment. Where weary travelers could find a bed for the night.
However, those unfortunate enough to stop there often failed to resume their journey the next morning. Because Lavinia would drug their evening cup of tea with poison and then when they were passed out in bed, John would go into the room and murder them.
Eventually, one of her would-be victims, survived because he didn’t drink the tea, instead of pouring it out so as not to hurt Lavinia’s feelings.
This meant that he was awake when they came for him and managed to run from the house to alert the police. John and Lavinia were subsequently arrested and both were hanged at Charleston’s Old Jail.
Lavina’s last words were alleged to be ‘If anyone has a message for Hell, give it to me, and I’ll carry it!’.
To this day people have claimed to see the apparitions of John and Lavinia Fisher around the old jail.
10. Charleston Orphan House
Charleston Orphan House was in operation up until 1918. When it was devastated by a large fire, which destroyed most of the building and claimed the lives of the children living there.
A tragedy of this scale is the perfect recipe for a haunting. So it is hardly surprising, that the orphan house is one of the most haunted places in Charleston.
The original building is long gone. New buildings and businesses now occupy the land, but that doesn’t mean that the orphans are gone.
Those in the new properties have reported seeing children running around and are often disturbed by the sounds of light, running footsteps, giggling and high pitched shrieking, even though there is nobody there to be making such a commotion.
It seems that the spirits of these poor orphans have remained here where they met their untimely deaths.