Fortibus' Charleston Ghost Tour
Have you ever seen a ghost? Many question whether the supernatural is real or something that was created for entertainment, but in Charleston it's known as a part of the culture. With COVID-19 taking a toll on travelers and vacations, we thought we could come bring some October magic to you! Below are some of our favorite tales from the haunting city that Fortibus Marketing calls home.
Do you dare to read through the lore and legends of historic Charleston, South Carolina?
72 Queen St.
It may be high on the restaurant list, but it’s also legendary for other reasons! We are talking about Poogan’s Porch, an upscale restaurant located in downtown Charleston. Of course they have killer food, but they are also haunted! The story began in the early 1900s. Zoe and Elizabeth St. Amand resided in their home at 72 Queen Street. Zoe was a teacher who was not wed, leading to society labeling her as a “spinster.” Unfortunately, her sister Elizabeth passed away in 1945, leaving Zoe by herself. This sent her spiraling into depression, which led to her hospitalization.
Zoe is said to haunt her old home, mourning for her long lost sister. It is also believed that the changes to the house in later years angered her spirit. She isn’t confined to one location in the home, but has been reportedly spotted on every floor and almost every room. The belief is that if you are a woman and attend the restaurant dressed provocatively or if you’re snarky with your male date, she will appear to you in the ladies' restroom and give you a disapproving stare.
Zoe is not the only ghost at this location though!
At one time the house was put up for sale and then purchased. The previous owners left so quickly that they didn’t even bother to take their dog, Poogan, with them. The new owners elected to keep Poogan and decided to name the new restaurant after him and his favorite spot, the porch! Another version of the story is that Poogan was a stray who would wander from porch to porch looking for scraps. Over time, Poogan began coming to the Queen Street house everyday, making his way onto the porch. This habit is what caused the owners to name their new restaurant “Poogan’s Porch.” Either way, he had the job of the official greeter until his death in 1979.
Today, it is rumored that you can feel him slide by your legs as you sit in the restaurant or you might even see him lounging on the front porch! Are you brave enough to make reservations to see if you can catch a glimpse of either Poogan or Zoe?
135 Church St.
The Dock Street Theatre in downtown Charleston is an easily recognizable building, but did you know that it was originally a hotel? Known as Planter’s Hotel, it was built in 1809. Later it was converted to the theatre and is known to have regular hauntings.
The theatre has two ghosts that regularly appear to patrons and staff. The first of the two is Junius Brutus Booth, a famous actor, who is even more famously known for his son, John Wilkes Booth - the assassinator of President Abraham Lincoln. The other is the spirit of a woman called Nettie.
In the 1800s Nettie hung around the Planter’s Hotel, not as a guest but as a prostitute. She also had an interesting relationship with a local church where her attendance every Sunday caused quite a controversy. Parishioners were unsettled by her attendance and often made snide remarks to her. The priest, however, was kind to Nettie and often tried to save her from her occupation. This priest is who saw her extremely unfortunate death, when she was struck by a bolt of lightning and died in October of 1843.
Even though the hotel is no more, Nettie is often seen wandering through the theatre in a tattered, but vibrantly colored, red dress, her signature look. If you get a look at her, one thing sticks out - the apparition disappears below the knees. According to Julian T. Buxton III, this has a very simple cause. He writes, “During the 1936 renovations, the floorboards of the second floor were raised over twelve inches.” Nettie is walking the original floor that she was used to!
8 Archdale St.
Dating back to 1772, the Unitarian Church is the oldest Unitarian church in the South. This specific graveyard has an enthralling history due to two lovers.
In 1827, Edgar Allen Poe was a sailor stationed on Sullivans Island. He got to where he was by lying about both his name and his age when enlisting. While he was in the Charleston area, a young girl of aristocratic descent fell in love with him. Her name? Annabel Lee Ravenel. Sound familiar? The Ravenel Bridge is the most photographed bridge in Charleston and is named for the prestigious family that still resides in Charleston today. Unfortunately, her father did not approve of their love. What else to do besides meet secretly in the darkness and confines of the night? They decided that the best place to meet would be the Unitarian Church graveyard.
After a few meetings, they were caught and Annabel was forced by her father to stay in her room at home. Unfortunately, a mosquito trapped in the room bit her, causing her to contract Yellow Fever. She passed away shortly after getting sick. When Poe heard of this, he was devastated and rushed to mourn his love. Her father was so spiteful that he dug multiple unmarked graves and buried his daughter in one of them, never disclosing the actual location. To this day, nobody is quite sure where she is buried.
Devastated that he couldn’t pay his final respects to his love, Poe chose to write a poem in her memory. You may have heard of it, as it became one of his most famous works - “Annabel Lee.” In the poem, he describes feeling Annabel’s eyes constantly on him.
It is said that if you visit, you experience the sensation of someone watching you. It is also reported that you can see a woman in a flowing white dress. This girl is suspected to be the ghost of Annabel Lee, whose life was taken too early.
122 East Bay St.
The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, built in 1771, was recently named a National Historic Landmark. It is now a museum and a hot spot to visit among Charleston tourists and locals alike.
There are many people that say the Old Exchange is one of the most important buildings that was constructed during the Colonial era. The building was home to a market and customs house, and well-known historical figures like George Washington hosted events there.
Above ground nobody could have guessed the horror that was hiding just below their feet.
The building originally served as a British prison during the Revolutionary War. Prisoners of war and pirates, like Blackbeard, were sent to the dungeon. It’s dangerous and dirty conditions were appalling and contributed to many horrific deaths. Many prisoners wouldn’t even make it to an execution or trial just because of the filth, rodents, parasites and disease that inhabited the dungeon. Since the dungeon is underground, rain would cause the cells to flood, leaving those chained to the walls helpless.
The Old Exchange building is open for tours throughout the week, and there are several tours that offer an inside look into the dungeon itself if you dare to enter the dark and haunted area!
70 Cunnington Ave.
Magnolia Cemetery, located on the banks of the Cooper River, is said to be home to over 35,000 souls so it’s no wonder that it breeds stories of apparitions, ghosts and hauntings. The spacious grounds span more than 100 acres and include several bodies of water and swamps. Established in 1949, it is the oldest public cemetery in Charleston and has the honor of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
One of the most famous areas in the cemetery is the burial site of the 21 crew members of the H.L. Hunley, who lost their lives on the submarine. The last crew, who was successful in their sinking of an enemy ship, was not found until 1995. They were finally laid to rest in the cemetery in 2005. The H.L. Hunley itself was recovered and restored and is available for viewing in Charleston!
Tours of the grounds are offered by Bulldog Tours. As the exclusive tour company of the cemetery, they donate a percentage of each tour for restoration and upkeep of the grounds. This 90 minute tour gives guests a chance to see the cemetery from the inside after dark while getting a historically accurate background on some of its inhabitants.
21 Magazine St.
The Charleston Old City Jail has a long, tumultuous history, beginning in 1802 when it was first constructed. It was in operation for over 100 years, ending its stint in 1939, and is considered to be the most haunted building in Charleston with rumors that more than 13,000 prisoners were executed on site. Some of the city's most famous inmates were kept here until their execution.
Arguably, the most famous pair of those inmates were John and Lavinia Fisher. They ran the Six Mile Wayfarer House, an inn located six miles north of Charleston. In the early nineteenth century rumors began to spread of people visiting the hotel and then mysteriously disappearing. These rumors were heightened by more elaborate stories of Lavinia inviting traveling businessmen to the inn and then proceeding to inquire about the men’s jobs and what they were carrying with them on their travels, like assets and money.
Following their meal, Lavinia would bring out tea for the guest. Little did they know that the tea would be laced with poison. Once the guest went to their rented room, John would barge into the room, stab them to death, steal their possessions and then dispose of the body. Another version of the tale is that Lavinia would pull a specially designed lever that would collapse the bed into the floor using a trapdoor, dropping the guest to their demise.
The two faced trial for highway robbery, as evidence could not be found connecting them to any murders, and they were consequently sentenced to hang. John and Lavinia were kept at the Old Charleston Jail until their execution. It is rumored that right before her hanging Lavinia shouted to the crowd, “If you have a message to send to the devil, give it to me and I’ll deliver it myself.” Despite the questions surrounding her life, she is known as the first female serial killer in the United States.
The jail is not just known locally but has been shown and investigated on several television programs including Buzzfeed's Unsolved, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, and the Travel Channel. In 2003, Bulldog Tours started ghost tours through the building, but unfortunately, those ended in August of this year due to renovations.
We can tell you plenty of ghost stories, but it won’t have the same impact as coming to visit historic Charleston, South Carolina yourself. When you come, make sure to schedule your consultation with Fortibus for all of your marketing needs. Be sure to let us know if you visit any of these haunted Charleston locations!
Happy Halloween from Fortibus Marketing!
BullDog Tours “Spirits of Magnolia Cemetery Tour”
The Ghosts of Charleston by Julia T. Buxton III
‘The Ghosts of Charleston’ Guided Tour from Buxton Books