Charleston in South Carolina is a city with a tumultuous past dating back to the pirate era, the American Revolution and the Civil War. Here, Culture Trip highlights the best places for you to experience the spookier side of the city’s chequered history.
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This elegant Queen Street restaurant is set in what used to be the home of Zoe St Amand, a schoolteacher who lived here with her sister, Elizabeth. Forced to leave when her sister died, she eventually passed away in July 1954. But the remodelling of her beautiful home proved too much for Zoe’s spirit. Hugely angered, she is said to wander through every floor in a rage, sometimes pushing people, sometimes appearing in the mirror, and she is even known to walk straight through the front door. Local police have also reported getting calls about a woman wandering around wearing black. They never do find her, though.
Rebellious teen Anne Bonny ran away with her pirate boyfriend, saying she no longer wanted to live a tedious existence on her father’s plantation. Turning to a life of crime, she became admired and feared as a pirate herself, before she was eventually captured and hanged. Her spirit has been known to be drawn to this 17th-century building, which stored British ammunition in the Civil War. Now a museum on Cumberland Street, it is said to be stalked by the specter of Bonney to this very day.
Battery and White Point Gardens
These romantic five-acre gardens with views of the Ashley River and Charleston Harbour have a much darker side than anyone strolling through them could ever imagine. This was where, in 1718, gentleman pirate Stede Bonnet and his entire crew were executed. Nooses were thrown around their necks and they were hanged in the oak trees. At night, their screams are still said to ring out across the park. There have been whispers of apparitions of cadavers gently swaying, their eyes alive only with terror.
Old Charleston Jail
In Charleston jail, malevolent forces are known to linger. The most famous of them is Lavinia Fisher, America’s first female serial killer. Fisher, along with her husband, ran an inn where they poisoned and robbed their guests. Unrepentant to the end, she mocked those attending her execution. Those mocking tones can still be heard within the fortified walls of the prison to this day.
Berry Residence Hall
This student residence, on Magazine Street, is built on the grounds of the old Charleston Orphan House. It witnessed a terrible tragedy in 1918 when, while the Spanish flu pandemic had the world in its grip, a fire broke out that swept through the orphanage. Some young boys died. Many tales of the ghosts of these poor children are told to this day. Some students swear that they can still hear the sound of marbles falling as they lie in bed staring at the ceiling, the sound of tiny voices singing Ring a Ring o’ Roses over and over into the night.
Dock Street Theatre
A bitter spirit still lingers in Church Street at the old hotel, now a theater, where Nettie Dickerson lived in 1840. Considered too old for marriage at 25 years old, she struggled to find a man. Heartbroken, she became a prostitute. One day, from her balcony, she was struck dead by lightning while screaming obscenities at the community that had ostracised her. Guests of the theatre have seen her float past in a red dress, her face awful and disfigured.
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