Tuesday, August 18, 2015

“Where 23 people laughed in the face of death.”—Pass Christian, MS

This is the site of the Richelieu Apartments in Pass Christian, Mississippi. This is a place where 23 people laughed in the face of death. And where 23 people died.

--Walter Cronkite, CBS Evening News, August 1969

Richelieu Manor Apartments Site
Northwest Corner, Intersection of Henderson Avenue and US-90
Pass Christian, Mississippi

Considered the most imminent and trustworthy of journalists, Walter Cronkite added substance to fiction with his basso profundo voice intoning the above statement. He was standing at the former site of the Richelieu Manor Apartments, a three-story modern apartment building that had been swept off its foundation by the storm surge from Hurricane Camille. Alongside the screaming headlines tracing Camille’s destructive path through the Gulf Coast was the tragic tale of 23 people partying in the face of death here until the storm ripped apart the building, killing everyone. There are reports of people in the vicinity of the former residence still hearing sounds of a party, though it never really happened.
The Richelieu Manor Apartments prior to Hurricane Camille's
arrival. Courtesy of NOAA.
Today is the 46th anniversary of Hurricane Camille’s dreaded arrival on the Gulf Coast. She swept into Waveland, Mississippi, just west of Pass Christian, on the other side of the Bay of St. Louis, in the early morning hours of August 18. Shrieking winds heralded the arrival of what would be deemed the third most destructive hurricane to hit the country in the 20th century. The hurricane would continue its destructive path inland bringing heavy rains and destructive flooding to western and central Virginia that would result in more than 150 deaths there.

In the historic town of Pass Christian, Camille roared ashore accompanied by a massive 24.7 foot storm surge that obliterated many of the buildings facing the Gulf like the Richelieu Manor Apartments. In the very next block, the beautiful Gothic-Revival Trinity Church sheltered 16 members of the church sexton’s family. As the surge swept in, the 1849 church collapsed under the strain of water and wind. Only three of the family members who had sought shelter there survived. The surge left just the concrete pad and in-ground swimming pool of the Richelieu apartments covered in debris punctuated by the occasional body of a former resident and seeds of a legend.

On August 20th, the front page of Greenville, Mississippi’s Delta Democrat-Times bears this story from the UPI wires:

20 out of 23 revelers died

PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (UPI)—A police official said today that there were three known survivors in a group of 23 persons who chose to throw a party during the approach of hurricane Camille.
            Assistant Police Chief Tom Ruspoli made the disclosure in telling how he pleaded in vain for everyone to evacuate the Richelieu Apartments before Camille hurled ashore with 190 mile an hour winds.
            “Sunday evening three of us went in and told everybody in the Richelieu to get out,” Ruspoli said. “We went to the Richelieu I can’t say how many times, probably three or four.”
            “We talked to the manager and told her to have all the people evacuated.”
            Ruspoli said the second time he went to the sturdy three-story brick building the people were moving all the furnishings to the top floor.
            “There were 23 of them waiting it out on the third floor. They didn’t think they would be harmed. But we explained to them that even if the water got only to the second floor they would be cut off.”
            Of the 23, Ruspoli said, 14 were known to have died, six were missing and three were rescued from clinging from the apartment.
            “I imagine there was a little bit of drinking that did take place,” the officer said.

Much of this story was pieced together from the account of a young lady who was the lone survivor. According to her story, this young lady tells of partying in a well-stocked apartment on the third floor of the apartment building. Copious amounts of alcohol and drugs fueled the party. The young lady went to sleep with her sixth husband only to be awakened as the walls of the building began to rend and peel away; she survived by clinging to furniture.
The site of the apartments after Hurrican Camille's destruction.
Courtesy of NOAA.
Sadly, this young lady’s life seriously unraveled over the years since her miraculous survival. She was involved with alcohol and drugs and in 1982 she was found guilty of murdering her 11th husband. She was sentenced to life imprisonment, though she was paroled in 1992. Throughout her trial, her lawyers argued that her survival during the hurricane led to her mental unraveling. Of course, the other survivors from the terrible night began to surface and they’re stories were very different.

According to blogger Margie Kieper who has researched the story in depth, there were only 14 people total in the building. Eight died and six survived. Those staying in the apartments had spent the previous day securing the building against the storm. At least one elderly couple was part of that group and many of the younger people stayed in order to watch over them. While the police had told the landlord that everyone in the building should evacuate, those staying believed that the building was strong enough to survive. The building had been deemed a fallout shelter and they did not know that the apartment building’s shoddy construction would not withstand the power of Camille. Those remaining were too tired from their preparations to party; they were simply guilty of making the bad decision to remain.

Author Bud Steed notes in his Haunted Mississippi Gulf Coast that stories of paranormal activity at the site began to circulate in the 1970s and 1980s. He did speak with one woman who reported hearing the sounds of a party in the early 1980s. She heard laughter, music and the clinking of glasses which evolved into screams and the sounds of glass breaking. Steed posits that it’s very difficult to know if this is truly paranormal or the product of overactive imaginations. Regardless, the activity and legend still stands as a testament to the many lives that were tragically cut short here.

The site was later developed into a strip mall which was destroyed by the powerful storm surge from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Hurricane Camille. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 18
     August 2015.
     happened.” Sun-Sentinel. 12 March 2015.
     It never happened.” Weather Underground. 4 March 2015.
Pope, John. “That infamous Hurricane Camille party on Aug. 17,
     1969? It never happened.” The Times-Picayune. 17 August 2014.
Steed, Bud. Haunted Mississippi Gulf Coast. Charleston, SC: History
     Press, 2012.
UPI. “20 out of 23 revelers died.” The Delta Democrat-Times. 20
     August 1969.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Fifth “Blogiversary!”

I'm just a poor, wayfaring stranger
A travelling through this world of woe...

--“Poor, Wayfaring Stranger,” Traditional American folksong

Five years ago this evening I was sitting in my local Starbucks, my favorite place to write, preparing to hit the publish button to launch this blog. I said a little prayer and hit the button that started me on this wonderful journey. Like the folksong’s “poor, wayfaring stranger,” I was setting off towards the horizon with no specific goal in mind but to write about Southern ghosts and hopefully make a better situation for myself. As one who has always had trouble completing things, I wasn’t sure how long I’d keep up with blogging, so reaching this fifth “blogiversary” is quite an achievement. But outside of the blog, my writing has taken me to other places: I’ve written for the local newspaper, interviewed people throughout the South, been interviewed for The Daily Beacon at the University of Tennessee and on Columbia, SC’s “Evolve with Tzima” on The Point Radio. I was published in a Southern horror anthology and I have plans to write some books.

My usual view in Starbucks with requisite coffee. 
I’m sitting here in Starbucks again and my writing almost caused me to miss this blogiversary. This past weekend I had copies of my first book printed and those have distracted me. These are just for editing, but it’s very exciting to see my book in print for the first time. My book, Southern Spirit Guide’s Haunted Alabama: A Guide to Ghostlore, Legends and Haunted Places in the Heart of Dixie, will be published, God forbid and Creeks don’t rise, as an eBook next month. I’ve been dreaming of writing a “ghost book” since I was a kid collecting books of ghost stories, so, this makes this anniversary ever more poignant.

Along the way, I’ve had help and support from a number of other bloggers: Jessica Penot of Ghost Stories and Haunted Places, Courtney Mroch of Haunt Jaunts, Sharon Day of Ghost Hunting Theories, Pamela Kinney of the Fantastic Dreams of Pamela K. Kinney, the indomitable Theresa Racer of Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State, and recently Faith Serafin, investigator, writer and blogger at Haunted Haven. Countless authors and their wonderful books about the South have been my constant companions on this journey as well, sitting cozily on my bookshelf or nightstand, piled on the floor next to my bed, stacked on my desk, thrown in the back seat of my car and jammed in my computer bag. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to all these people and my readers as well. Thank you!
Trying to muster a smile for the blogiversary. 

I don’t know what’s next for my blog, there will be more posted, hopefully, and I have no intention to stop blogging. Please join me as a journey on though the haunted South! 

I know dark clouds will gather round me,
I know the pathway is rough and steep,
But beauteous fields lie just before me,
Where God redeems, his vigil keeps.

--“Poor, Wayfaring Stranger,” Traditional American folksong

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Montgomery, Alabama’s Haunted Five

Alabama’s state capital, Montgomery, is sometimes seen to play second fiddle to Birmingham, the largest city in the state. But Montgomery has a complex history that has put it often at the forefront of many historical movements in the South. Starting as a frontier trading post, the city served as the first capital of the young Confederacy. After the Civil War, the city became known for technological achievements in the form of an electric trolley system and in 1910, a flying school opened by the Wright brothers. In the mid-20th century, the city’s sad racial history placed it at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement presenting us with a mighty lion in the form of Rosa Parks.
1887 Bird's Eye View of Montgomery by H. C. Davidson.
Paranormally speaking, the city has a fascinating panoply of spirits, many of which have been covered in two recent books: Faith Serafin’s Haunted Montgomery and Shawn Sellers and Jake Bell’s Montgomery: A City Haunted by History.

CAPITAL TOWERS APARTMENTS (7 Clayton Street, private) On February 7, 1967, fire ravaged the swanky restaurant on the top floor of this building. Dale’s Penthouse restaurant was one of the most fashionable dining options at the time in Montgomery. As the fire broke out on this frigid February night, rapidly moving flames blocked the elevator and the stairwell, trapping and killing 26 patrons including a few well-known politicians. While some conspiracy theories exist as to the origin of the fire, the official explanation points to a lit pipe left in a coat pocket.

The building itself only received slight damage and the penthouse that once housed the restaurant is now a private residence. Former residents of the building have reported hearing screams of “help,” while residents in the penthouse have spotted misty, black forms. Shawn Sellers notes that passersby near the building have smelled smoke and heard screams coming from near the top floor.

Hull, Christine Kneidinger. “26 died in Dale’s Penthouse fire
     in Montgomery 44 years ago today.” AL.com. 7 Feb 2011.
Sellers, Shawn & Jake Bell. Montgomery: A City Haunted by History.
     Shawn Sellers, 2013.
Serafin, Faith. Haunted Montgomery, Alabama. Charleston, SC:
     History Press, 2013.

CHRIS’ HOT DOGS (138 Dexter Avenue) While the hot dogs are legendary around these parts, the good food is not the only reason Montgomery citizens still flock to Chris’ Hot Dogs, it’s the atmosphere; an atmosphere still punctuated by spirits. Founded in 1917 as the Post Office Café, this restaurant has become an institution in its 98 years of business. For three decades, this café was a popular late night hotspot serving hot dogs and liquor and attracting the likes of country singer, Hank Williams.

Shawn Sellers and his investigation team explored the restaurant and discovered that the staff has countless stories about employees still working their shifts from beyond the grave. Perhaps Hank Williams can be heard still singing under the green and white striped awning?

Cumuze, Greg. “My Immutable Heaven.” Chris’ Hot Dogs History.
     Accessed 26 May 2015.
Sellers, Shawn & Jake Bell. Montgomery: A City Haunted by History.
     Shawn Sellers, 2013.
F. SCOTT AND ZELDA FITZGERALD MUSEUM (919 Felder Street) In Fitzgerald’s classic novel of the Jazz Age, The Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan remarks on the birth of her daughter, “I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” Some suspect that Fitzgerald’s Montgomery-born wife, Zelda, may have made a similar remark on the birth of their daughter. Zelda, whose zest for life strongly influenced her husband as well as legions of young women, lived her life as the epitome of the “foolish” Flapper.
Zelda and her husband lived in this house for a very brief five months—October 1931 to February 1932—but during that time F. Scott Fitzgerald completed his novel, Tender is the Night, while Zelda outlined her one and only novel, Save Me the Waltz. The house was saved from demolition in 1986 and opened as a museum to the literary couple. The upper floor of the house now contains private apartments and the residents there have reported hearing faint jazz music and disembodied footsteps. The museum’s director has reported that Zelda’s “foolish” spirit has remained active in the house and is believed to be the spirit responsible for flinging a painting from the wall while a staff member watched.

Curnutt, Kirk. “Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald.” Encyclopedia of Alabama.
     15 Mar 2007.
Herbert, Katherine. “Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum.”
     Encyclopedia of Alabama. 14 Aug 2014.
Sellers, Shawn & Jake Bell. Montgomery: A City Haunted by History.
     Shawn Sellers, 2013.
Serafin, Faith. Haunted Montgomery, Alabama. Charleston, SC:
     History Press, 2013.
LADY IN WHITE LEGEND (Downtown) The identity of this mysterious woman is unknown, but her apparition is quite frightening. Seen throughout downtown Montgomery, the Lady in White is, as her name implies, dressed entirely in white. Her hair is described as long and dark and her teeth are animal-like in their ferocity. In a 2013 article, Shawn Sellers is quoted as saying, “She’s actually the most reported ghost of anywhere in downtown Montgomery. She’s always seen outside. She’s never looking at anybody. She’s just always walking up the street, and people say they feel her before they see her. She’s just a creepy, creepy energy.”

Sellers, Shawn & Jake Bell. Montgomery: A City Haunted by History.
     Shawn Sellers, 2013.
Sutton, Amber. “Ghosts, curses and more: Take a walk on the
     supernatural side with Haunted Montgomery Tours.” AL.com.
     2 Oct 2013.

MONTGOMERY RIVERWALK STADIUM (200 Coosa Street) The home to the Montgomery Biscuits, the city’s minor league baseball team, Riverwalk Stadium is located on the site of a former Civil War prisoner of war camp. During the Civil War, this site was occupied by a cotton warehouse. After the Battle of Shiloh in April of 1862, Union prisoners were housed in the warehouse in reportedly deplorable conditions until they were moved to Tuscaloosa in December of that year. Faith Serafin notes that some 200 prisoners died while in captivity at this site.
View of a 2008 game played at Riverwalk Stadium by
markcbrennan, courtesy of Wikipedia.
According to Shawn Sellers, before groundbreaking took place for the ballpark, this site was occupied by a hotel. Maids would sometimes find rooms disturbed after they had cleaned them and guests observed mysterious figures in their rooms. After the hotel closed, the building was occupied by offices where similar activity was reported. Located on the site of the haunted hotel, the stadium also may host activity including shadow figures, the sounds of weeping and screaming, and the occasional apparition.

Sellers, Shawn & Jake Bell. Montgomery: A City Haunted by History.
     Shawn Sellers, 2013.
Serafin, Faith. Haunted Montgomery, Alabama. Charleston, SC:
     History Press, 2013.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Birmingham’s Haunted Five

After my recent entry on Alabama, I had a comment on Facebook, “Interesting, but there’s more than the library in Birmingham…” Indeed.

I’ve previously covered two magnificent Birmingham theatres: the Alabama and Lyric; and the Tutwiler Hotel, in addition to the Linn-Henley Library which I covered in the Haunted Alabama entry. So here are a few more locations to add to the Birmingham list.

When Alan Brown wrote his 2009, Haunted Birmingham, he noted that this city’s ghostlore “is not nearly as rich as that found in much older cities.” Certainly, Birmingham is the youngest of Alabama’s large cities, having only been founded in 1871. Still, the city has some very interesting ghostlore including the iconic Sloss Furnaces.

Sloss Furnaces
20 32nd Street, North

Perhaps one of the most iconic haunted places in the whole state, this National Historic Landmark site is iconic of Birmingham’s history. Birmingham was built on industrial facilities like this producing iron during the latter half of the 19th and into the 20th centuries. While the facility opened in 1882, nothing remains of the original furnaces here. The oldest building on this site dates to 1902 with much equipment installed and added in later years. This facility closed in 1971 and local preservationists began work to save the facility. Their efforts paid off and the facility is open as a museum and events facility.
Sloss Furnaces, 2006. Photo by Timjarrett, courtesy
of Wikipedia.
There is always a chance for death in industrial sites, even more so around molten metal in a furnace. In 1887, Theophilus Jowers, assistant foundryman at the Alice furnace (one of the first furnaces on this site) fell to his death into the molten iron in the furnace. Some of his remains—his head, bowels, two hip bones and some ashes—were fished out of the molten iron. Jowers’ death remains one of the most spectacular and grisly, though many more men died throughout the time that the furnaces were in operation.

After Jowers’ death, his spirit was observed by co-workers. Kathryn Tucker Windham quotes one former employee, “We’d be getting ready to charge the furnace, and we’d see something, something like a natural man walking around on the hearth. Just walking slow and looking around like he was checking to make sure everything was all right.” Windham describes the first time that Jowers’ son saw his father’s spirit in 1927. The now grown son took his son for a drive over the First Avenue Viaduct and there, while watching the action at the furnace, they observed a man walking through the showers of sparks and flames.

Two more spirits are believed to be in residence at this site, but less historically based. A white deer that has been seen on the grounds is believed to be the spirit of a pregnant girl who committed suicide by throwing herself into the furnace. The other “apocryphal”—as Alan Brown describes him—spirit is that of a fiendish foreman named James “Slag” Wormwood. Like Jowers and the pregnant girl, Wormwood supposedly fell to his death into one of the furnaces, though it is suspected that he was really pushed by an angry employee. It is Wormwood’s angry spirit that is responsible for pushing employees.

The furnaces are known as a hotbed of paranormal activity and were investigated for the first time in 2005 by Ghost Chasers International out of Kentucky. They were joined by psychic Chip Coffey who would soon make his name working on the A&E show, Paranormal State. During the investigation, Coffey made contact with the spirit of a man who had lost a limb in an accident there. Moments after losing contact with the spirit, team members noticed blood on Coffey’s hands. After investigating him for scratches or another injury that could have produced blood, nothing was found. Over the past 10 years of paranormal investigations at the site, a slag heap of evidence has been produced.

Brown, Alan. Haunted Birmingham. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2009.
History.” Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark. Accessed 12 June
Parks, Megan. “Sloss Fright Furnace: The haunts heat up in Alabama.”
     USA Today. 14 October 2014.
Windham, Kathryn Tucker. The Ghost in the Sloss Furnaces. Birmingham,
     AL: Birmingham Historical Society, 2005.

East Lake Park
400 Graymont Avenue, West

On the 1st December 1888, Richard Hawes accompanied his daughter to the newly built lake here. Sometime later, he left without the seven year-old. On December 4th, two boys playing on a boat in the lake discovered the child’s half-naked body in the water. The discovery caused a sensation among the citizens who thronged the funeral home where she was taken to view the body. Eventually, she was identified as May Hawes. As his train pulled into Birmingham, Richard Hawes, May’s father, was arrested.
May Hawes' body as pictured in a
local paper, 1888.
Richard Hawes was aboard the train with his new bride and still in his wedding suit. He told investigators that he had divorced his wife and was paying for the support of the children. His new wife, from Columbus, Mississippi, was described as being prostrate with grief after finding that her new husband was suspected of murder. Hawes’ wife Emma and daughter, Irene, age six. As newspapers stirred the city’s emotions, Emma’s body was found in a lake in the Lakeview neighborhood. Outrage overtook countless Birminghamians who gathered outside the city jail demanding Hawes be brought to justice immediately. A militia that had been called out to protect the jail eventually opened fire on the crowd killing ten including the city’s postmaster and wounding many others. A few days later, the pathetic body of Irene Hawes was found in the same lake where her mother had been found.
Postcard of East Lake from the roller coaster that once
perched on the shores, 1909.
After a swift trial, Richard Hawes faced the gallows and was hung for the murder of his wife and two daughters. Hawes’ second wife was granted from her depraved husband. The lake in Lakeview where Emma and Irene were drowned is now a golf course while East Lake is the centerpiece of East Lake Park, which became a city park 1917. Little May Hawes is still seen in and around the lake where she is sometimes called the “Mermaid of East Lake.”

East Lake Park. Bhamwiki. Accessed 12 June 2015.
Jones, Pam. “The Hawes Murders.” Alabama Heritage. Spring 2006.
Kazek, Kelly. “’Tis the season: Haunting tales from ghost tours in 3
     Alabama cities.” AL.com. 2 October 2012.

Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens
331 Cotton Avenue

Described as the “Birthplace of Birmingham,” Arlington is the oldest remaining home in Jefferson County. The core of this house was constructed in 1822 with additions being made to the house in 1842. As it served as the headquarters for Union General James H. Wilson during the closing months of the Civil War, the house was spared while the orders for the destruction of the University of Alabama, the arsenal at Selma and iron works throughout the region were issued from this home. As can be expected in a house of this age, there is some paranormal activity. Alan Brown notes that docents have heard doors slamming and witnessed rocking chairs rocking on their own accord.
Arlington by Jet Lowe. Photo for the Historic American Buildings
Survey, courtesy of the Library of Congress. 
Brown, Alan. Haunted Birmingham. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2009.
Floyd, W. Warner and Mrs. Catherine M. Lackmond. National Register of
     Historic Places nomination form for Arlington. 9 September 1970.

Carraway Methodist Medical Center
1600 Carraway Boulevard

This defunct hospital was, for many years, one of Birmingham’s leading medical facilities. In the 2000s, the hospital was plagued with financial difficulties that lead to its closure in 2008. The facility has been deteriorating since and it has attracted homeless people, vandals, copper thieves and some ghost hunters. A November 2014 article by Kelly Kazek reports on an investigation conducted by investigator and author, Kim Johnston. After touring the facility with the owner, Johnston reported that the Emergency Room had a “palpable heaviness.” Her group did have the experience of hearing muffled voices in the cardiac surgery area of the third floor. Even after bringing in local police, no one was found to be in that area. This building is closed and tresapssers will be prosecuted, please only observe from a distance.

Carraway Methodist Medical Center. Wikipedia. Acc. 6 Jun 2015.
Kazek, Kelly. “Abandoned Alabama Part 2: The ghost of cities past.”
     AL.com. 28 Nov 2014.

The Hotel Highland at Five Points South
1023 20th Street, South

Originally constructed as the Medical Arts Building in 1931, this building served as offices for surgeons and dentists for many years. In the 1980s, a former cardiac surgeon renovated the Art Deco structure into a hotel, the Pickwick Hotel. During this time, stories emerged of a nurse still making rounds on the eighth floor. Sheila Turnage quotes a former director of sales who said that the elevator would mysteriously be called to the eighth floor unexpectedly. The hotel was transformed into a boutique hotel in 2007.

Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winston-Salem,
     NC: John F. Blair, 2001.
“History of the Hotel” The Hotel Highland at Five Points South
     Accessed 18 May 2015.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Southern Spirit Guide to Haunted Alabama

Four years ago, just after I started this blog, I created entries for each of the thirteen states that I cover. The “Haunted Alabama” entry was the first and now, it’s the first to be redone as well. In the past few years, I’ve added quite a number of resources to my library as well as collected a few hundred articles, all relating to haunted Alabama. I’m also removing any entries that are expanded elsewhere and bumping up the number of entries to thirteen. I hope you will enjoy and be informed by this expanded entry!

Alabama State Capitol
600 Dexter Avenue

Perhaps one of the most important sites in the entire state is built on a place called Goat Hill. This building is the second capitol building on this site, the first having been destroyed by fire in 1849. The current building opened in 1851 and has witnessed the panoply of Alabama history. It was here in 1861 that representatives of six Southern states met to create the Confederate government. Later that year, Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens were inaugurated here as the President and Vice President of the Confederate States, respectively. More than a hundred years later, Martin Luther King, Jr. would lead a civil rights march to the steps of this building.

With such history, it’s no surprise that spirits may still wander the capitol’s corridors. One legend concerns a Confederate widow. Desperate to find where her husband had died and was buried, she made inquiries but no information was forthcoming. She continued haunting the corridors in life and evidently in death. Security guards and staff members have seen this desperate woman and continue to hear her footsteps.

Alabama State Capitol, 2006, by Jim Bowen. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
A security guard is quoted in a 1994 Birmingham News article as having seen a female spirit standing near the statue of Governor Lurleen Wallace. The woman was wearing white opera-length gloves which are reminiscent of the gloves Wallace is wearing in her official state portrait.

Faith Serafin notes in her book, Haunted Montgomery, Alabama, that bathroom sinks near the offices of the state board of convicts are often found with the water running. This may be related to a 1912 murder that occurred here. When a property discpute did not turn out in his favor, Will Oakley shot his stepfather, P. A. Woods, in the offices of president of the convict board. Legend holds that the spirit of Will Oakley is still trying to wash the blood off his hands.

Lindley, Tom. “Ghosts or good stories haunt Capitol’s halls:
     This Confederate widow will never tell.” The Birmingham News.
     27 November 1994.                    
Schroer, Blanche Higgins. National Register of Historic Place nomination
     form for the Alabama State Capitol. 29 September 1975.
Serafin, Faith. Haunted Montgomery, Alabama. Charleston, SC:
     History Press, 2013.

Bear Creek Swamp
County Road 3

Just this past Halloween, twenty-one dolls tied to bamboo stakes were found in Bear Creek Swamp. The Autauga County Sheriff’s Office thought they were simply a harmless Halloween prank, but after reports of the dolls began to spread through social media, the sheriff’s office decided to remove them. The reason for the dolls’ placement in the swamp remains mysterious, but then again, Bear Creek Swamp is full of mystery.

A newspaper article regarding the incident noted that the swamp “is a massive bog with a bit of a reputation locally. As a rite of passage, generations of teenagers have entered the area at night looking for creatures and haints said to roam the mist-covered realm. And it’s not unusual to hear reports of loud booms coming from its depths.”

Before the arrival of white settlers, this area was known as a place with pure water and medicinal springs. This area was once the home of the Autauga or Tawasa Indians who were members of the Muscogee Creek Confederacy. Many of these people were removed by force in the 1830s and marched along the Trail of Tears to be resettled in the West.

Some Native spirits may have remained in the swamp. A hunter told Faith Serafin about seeing a female apparition within the swamp while tracking a deer he and his son had shot. A couple hiking through the area encountered a wild looking woman with a gaunt face who screamed and disappeared into the swamp when they approached. Others, including an investigation team from Southern Paranormal Researchers, have witnessed strange orbs of light in the depths of the bog.

Roney, Marty. “21 dolls on bamboo stakes found in Alabama
     swamp.” Hattiesburg American. 27 November 2014
Serafin, Faith. Haunted Montgomery, Alabama. Charleston, SC:
     History Press, 2013.
Sutton, Amber. “Officers remove more than a dozen dolls from
     Autauga County swamp.” AL.com. 25 November 2014.
Southern Paranormal Researchers. “Bear Creek Swamp—September
     3, 2006.” Accessed 29 November 2012.

Belle Mont
1569 Cook Lane

Built between 1828 and 1832 by Dr. Alexander Mitchell, Belle Mont is now owned by the Alabama Historical Commission and operated as a house museum. This house represents a rare example of what is sometimes termed “Jeffersonian Classicism,” the distinctive version of Palladian architecture that was created by Thomas Jefferson. While most likely not directly designed by Jefferson himself, the house was likely designed by one of his disciples whom he trained.

Belle Mont, 2010, by Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy of the
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Around the time the house was completed Dr. Mitchell lost his wife and both daughters to a fever and subsequently, he sold the property. The apparitions of a woman and two small girls have been seen in and around the house with the last reported sighting in 1968.

Gamble, Robert S. National Register of Historic Places nomination
     form for Belmont. Jan. 1981.
Belle Mont. Alabama Historical Commission. Accessed
     16 December 2010.
Belle Mont (Tuscumbia, Alabama). Wikipedia, the Free
     Encyclopedia. Accessed 16 December 2010.
Johnston, Debra. Skeletons in the Closet: True Ghost Stories
     of The Shoals Area. Debra Johnston, 2002.

Bragg-Mitchell Mansion
1906 Springhill Avenue

Bragg-Mitchell Mansion, 2006, by Altairisfar. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
The spirits of the 1855 Bragg-Mitchell Mansion in Mobile include a cat and the spirit of Judge Bragg whose brother Alexander possibly designed the house. One employee and an assistant felt someone board an elevator after they had boarded. Later an air conditioning repairman was locked in the attic from the outside by an unseen force. Another employee after leaving a vase of flowers on a table returned the next morning to find the vase and arrangement shoved under the table on its side.

Coleman, Christopher K. Dixie Spirits: True Tales of the Strange
     and Supernatural, 2nd Edition. Nashville, Cumberland House,
Parker, Elizabeth. Mobile Ghosts: Alabama’s Haunted
     Port City. Apparition Publishing, 2001.

Fort Morgan
51 AL 180
Baldwin County

With Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island, Fort Morgan guards the entrance to Mobile Bay. Construction began in 1819 following the British capture of the area in 1815 during the misnamed War of 1812. Using slave labor, this enormous masonry fort was completed in 1834. With rising tension after Alabama’s secession from the Union, the fort was peacefully turned over to the Alabama militia.

Fort Morgan, 2002, by Edibobb. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
The fort saw action on August 5, 1864 during the Battle of Mobile Bay when it was attacked and besieged by Union warships. Fort Morgan finally surrendered to Union forces a few days later. It remained in operation until it was abandoned by the military in 1924. It was re-occupied by the military during World War II and then turned over to the State of Alabama in 1946.

Southern Paranormal Researchers investigated the fort in 2006 and witnessed a good deal of activity including hearing voices, seeing shadow figures and having fully charged batteries drained. They also captured a number of anomalies in photographs and one EVP. Visitors to the fort have encountered phantom smells of gun smoke, the sounds of battle and figures in period clothing.

Langella, Dale. Haunted Alabama Battlefields. Charleston, SC:
     History Press, 2013.
Schroer, Blanche Higgins. National Register of Historic Places
     nomination form for Fort Morgan. 4 October 1975.
Southern Paranormal Investigation Team. Fort Morgan Investigation.
     16 Dec 2006.

Horseshoe Bend National Military Park
11288 Horseshoe Bend Road

A bend on the Tallapoosa River formed an ideal spot for the Muscogee Creek village of Tohopeka. During the Creek War—a civil war within the Muscogee Creek Nation that eventually embroiled white Americans—a band of Red Stick Creeks under Chief Menawa bravely defended this position against white American troops and Native American allies under the command of Andrew Jackson. Some 800 Red Stick warriors were slaughtered here on March 27, 1814, bringing an end to the Creek War of 1813-14 and leaving the Tallapoosa River at Horseshoe Bend stained red with blood.

The Tallapoosa River at Horseshoe Bend. Courtesy of the NPS.
With the slaughter that occurred here, it’s no wonder that visitors have reported a plethora of paranormal activity here ranging from smells and odd noises to full apparitions. A paranormal investigation by the Alabama Paranormal Research Team produced some photographic anomalies as well as the sound of someone screaming in the vicinity of the Muscogee Creek village site.

Langella, Dale. Haunted Alabama Battlefields. Charleston, SC:
     History Press, 2013.
Alabama Paranormal Research Team. Investigation of
     Horseshoe Bend National Military Park. Accessed 18 Dec 2010.
Jensen, Ove. “Battle of Horseshoe Bend.” Encyclopedia of Alabama.
     26 Feb 2007.

Linn-Henley Research Library
2100 Park Place
Linn-Henley Library, 2009, by DwayneP. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Originally opened in 1927 as the Birmingham Public Library, this building is now home to the library’s archives, government documents library, a southern history library and a ghost. Blogger Jessica Penot visited the library in 2012 and noted the “uncanny quiet that fills the building like a tangible presence.” The spirit of Fant Thornley, dedicated library director from 1953 until the 1970s, still makes occasional appearances in his beloved library. The spirit of Thornley has been seen by an electrician and a library staffer and other staffers have smelled the smoke from Thornley’s cigarettes.

Birmingham Public Library. “History of Birmingham Public Library.”
     Accessed 24 May 2015.
Brown, Alan. Haunted Places in the American South. Jackson,
     MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2002.
Penot, Jessica. “The Breathtaking, Haunted Beauty of the Linn-
     Henley Library.” Ghost Stories and Haunted Places Blog. 2 November

Monroe County Heritage Museum
(Old Monroe County Courthouse)
31 North Alabama Avenue

In 1903, this structure was constructed as a courthouse for Monroe County. It was here that a young Harper Lee, Monroeville’s most famous resident and author of the classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, would watch her father as he argued cases. When the novel was filmed on celluloid, the designers replicated the court room here on a Hollywood sound stage. This building was used by Monroe County as a court house until 1967.

Dome of the Old Monroe County Courthouse,
2008, by Melinda Shelton. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
The upper floors of this building still seem to retain some of the energy from the building’s judicial use. Blogger Lee Peacock quotes one man as saying, “Things blow in the breeze but there is no breeze. You hear sounds that don’t belong, and I have smelled pipe tobacco smoke when no one was smoking or there to be smoking.” Staff members working late here often get the feeling of not being alone and heard odd sounds within this storied building.

Higdon, David & Brett Talley. Haunted Alabama Black Belt.
     Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013
Peacock, Lee. “Ten new locations make list of “Spookiest
     Places in Monroe County.” Dispatches from the LP-OP. 31
     October 2014.
W. Warner Floyd. National Register of Historic Places nomination
     form for Old Monroe County Courthouse. 29 March 1973.

Moundville Archaeological Park
634 Mound State Parkway

Between approximately 1120 C.E. and 1450 C.E., Moundville was the site of a large city inhabited by the Mississippean people, the predecessors to the tribes that the Europeans would encounter when they began exploring the South about a century later. At its height, this town was probably home to nearly 1000 inhabitants. Stretching to 185 acres, the town had 29 mounds of various sizes and uses: some were ceremonial while others were capped with the home of the elite.
One of the mounds at Moundville, 1999, by Altairisfar. Courtesy
of Wikipedia.
Visitors and staff have often mentioned a certain energy emanating from this site. A Cherokee friend of mine visited and while atop one of the mounds let out a traditional Cherokee war cry. He noted that there was a palpable change in the energy there. Dennis William Hauck speaks of the “powerful spirit of an ancient race” that “permeates this 317-acre site” in his Haunted Places: The National Directory. Southern Paranormal Researchers notes that the staff of the site has witnessed shadow figures, odd noises and doors opening and closing by themselves in the buildings on the site. Higdon and Talley add orbs and cold spots found throughout the site to the list of paranormal activity here.

Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National
     Directory. NYC: Penguin, 2002.
Southern Paranormal Researchers. Investigation Report for
     Moundville Archaeological Park. Investigated 10 February
Higdon, David & Brett Talley. Haunted Alabama Black Belt.
     Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
Blitz, John H. “Moundville Archaeological Park.” Encyclopedia of
     Alabama. 26 February 2007.

Old Depot Museum
4 Martin Luther King, Jr. Street
Old Depot, 2010, by Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy of Library
of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
A part of the Alabama Ghost Trail, a series of haunted places linked by the Southwest Alabama Regional Tourism and Film Office, the Old Depot Museum features a ghost that reportedly has an affinity for the museum’s elevator.

Old Depot Museum. Alabama Ghost Trail. YouTube.
     Posted 19 July 2009.

Timmons Cemetery
Buxton Road
Redstone Arsenal

When the Army took over some 40,000 acres in Huntsville in 1941, it swallowed up old farm and plantation land including some 46 cemeteries. Located in the woods off of Buxton Road, the Timmons Cemetery is considered, by some, the spookiest place on the property. Guards patrolling Buxton Road at night have seen a little girl running across the road near the cemetery.

To explain the little girl’s spirit, a legend has surfaced, though apparently not back up by historical documentation. Margaret Ann Timmons was an energetic child and sometimes difficult to control. When work required the family to be in the fields, Margaret would be tied to a chair inside the house. The energetic child wiggled out of her restraints and kicked over an oil lamp that destroyed the house and killed the child. Now, not even death and the stone wall that surrounds the family’s cemetery can restrain her.

“Does a little girl really haunt Redstone Arsenal.” WAAY.
     31 Oct 2014.
“Redstone Report: Ghost story still haunts Redstone Arsenal.”
     WAFF. 31 Oct 2011.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Doing the Charleston: A Ghostly Tour

A friend of mine recently contacted me and asked for a walking tour of Charleston, South Carolina. This is a tour of Charleston’s haunted highlights. It’s divided into three parts for convenience: South of Broad, North of Broad and Further Afield. For private residences, please respect the residents and simply look.

I’m trying a new system for sources. The bold numbers at the end of each entry correspond with the sources at the end of the article.

I’d like to use one of best descriptions of Charleston to one of my favorite authors:

The city of Charleston, in the green feathery modesty of its palms, in the certitude of its style, in the economy and stringency of its lines, and the serenity of its mansions South of Broad Street, is a feast for the human eye. But to me, Charleston is a dark city, a melancholy city, whose severe covenants and secrets are as powerful and beguiling as its elegance, who demons dance their alley dances and compose their malign hymns to the dark side of the moon I cannot see…

Though I will always be a visitor to Charleston, I will always remain one with a passionate belief that it is the most beautiful city in America and that to walk the old section of the city at night is to step into the bloodstream of a history extravagantly lived by a people born to a fierce and unshakable advocacy of their past. To walk in the spire-proud shade of Church Street is to experience the chronicle of a mythology that is particular to this city and this city alone, a trinitarian mythology with equal parts of the sublime, the mysterious, and the grotesque. But there is nothing to warn you of Charleston’s refined cruelty…

Entering Charleston is like walking through the brilliant carbon forest of a diamond with the light dazzling you in a thousand ways, an assault of light and shadow caused by light. The sun and the city have struck up an irreversible alliance.

-- Pat Conroy, The Lords of Discipline, 1980

South of Broad Street

Battery Carriage House Inn (20 South Battery) The Battery Carriage House Inn is possibly one of the more spiritually active locations in the city. A few of the inn’s eleven sumptuous guest rooms are apparently haunted. A couple staying in room 3 were awakened by noise from a cellphone; while this may be quite common, phones are not supposed to make noise when powered off as this phone was. But this activity seems minor compared to the reports from rooms 8 and 10. Guests staying in Room 8 have encountered the apparition of a man’s torso. There is no head or limbs, just a torso dressed in a few layers of clothing. One guest sensed that this figure was quite negative. The spirit in Room 10 is much more pleasant and even described as a gentleman. The innkeepers believe this may be the spirit of the son of a former owner who committed suicide. 5, 14, 23, 33

Blind Tiger Pub (36-38 Broad Street) Housed in a pair of old commercial buildings, these buildings have served a variety of uses over the years including number 38 serving as home to the State Bank of South Carolina for many years. During the administration of Governor Bill Tillman (1895-1918), the state of South Carolina attempted to control the sale of alcohol. Throughout Charleston small establishments sprung up where the citizenry could, for a small admission fee, see a blind tiger and drinks would be provided compliments of the house. Number 36 housed one of these establishments. During the era of national prohibition, this building housed a speakeasy.

The pub is known to be inhabited by happy spirits according to a former employee. Patrons and staff have seen figures in the building while odd sounds have been heard. Staff closing the back porch have had the motion-activated light come on without anyone else being present. 10, 20

Charleston Battery On the Battery near the Edmondston-Alston House at 21 South Battery, a young woman encountered the apparition of a woman dressed in period clothing. James Caskey posits that the sad-faced apparition may very well have been the spirit of Theodosia Burr Alston, the daughter of Vice President Aaron Burr and wife of South Carolina Governor Joseph Alston. In 1812, Theodosia Burr Alston boarded the Patriot in Georgetown, SC as she headed north. The ship was never heard from again. Her spirit has been seen up and down the South Carolina coast. 10, 38
Charleston City Hall, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.
Charleston City Hall (80 Broad Street) Charleston’s marvelous city hall was originally constructed as a branch of the first Bank of the United States in 1800. It became city hall in 1818. Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, a native of Louisiana, was in charge of the city’s defenses during the attack on Fort Sumter, the battle that began the Civil War. He returned later in the war to command the coastal defenses for the Deep South. According to Tally Johnson, his spirit has been seen prowling the halls of this magnificent building. 13, 20

Daniel Huger House (34 Meeting Street, private) While this mid-18th century home sustained little damage during the Great Charleston Earthquake of 1886, a young, English visitor to the home was killed on the front steps. This area is prone to earthquakes and the quake that struck the city in 1886 caused massive damage throughout the city. The young man visiting the Huger (pronounced HEW-jee) family here fled the house when the shaking began. As he stood on the front steps a piece of molding from the roof struck him on the head, killing him. He may be the cause of mysterious rapping on the front door prior to earthquakes. 9, 20
Hannah Heyward House, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.
Hannah Heyward House (31 Legare Street, private) This simple, but elegant villa-styled house was built in 1789. After Mrs. Heyward’s son, James, left one morning for a hunting trip, she encountered him sitting quietly later that afternoon. When she inquired among the servants when her son had arrived, no one seemed to have seen him. Later that evening some of James’ friends arrived with his lifeless body. Ever since, residents of the home have occasionally seen James sitting in the library. 12, 16, 20

James Simmons House (37 Meeting Street, private) This house has been named “The Bosoms” because of its bowed front and you may giggle at the silliness of that. The house was built, without bosoms, in the mid-18th century and alterations in the 1840s added the namesake bays. Legend holds that a pirate buried treasure near this house and shot one of his men at the site. The “white, blurry silhouette” of that man has been seen near the house. 9, 10, 18, 20

Old Exchange Building (122 East Bay Street) Among one of the most important and historic buildings in the city, the Exchange Building was constructed in the late 1760s to support the trade occurring in this, the wealthiest of colonial cities. The building was built on top of the old Half Moon Battery, a section of the original city wall. During the American Revolution, the dungeon held many of Charleston’s most prominent Patriot citizens. In 1791, this building hosted a ball for President George Washington.

It seems that the souls of some of the people imprisoned in the dungeon still stir. Ghost tours passing through the dungeon at night report that the chains used to guard exhibits swing on their own while visitors take photographs with anomalies quite regularly. Cries and moans have been heard here and Alan Brown reports that some woman have been attacked here. One hapless female visitor was pushed up against a wall while another felt hands around her neck. 6, 18, 20
St. Michael's, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.
St. Michael’s Episcopal Church (80 Meeting Street) Step inside the cool sanctuary of this mid-18th century church and be on the lookout for a spectral bride. Legend speaks of Harriet Mackie who was supposedly poisoned on her wedding day and remains here in her wedding dress. 18, 20

St. Michael’s Rectory (76 Meeting Street, private) St. Michael’s Alley, running alongside St. Michael’s Church’s churchyard to Church Street, was the scene of a duel in 1786 that left one young man with mortal wounds. Aroused by the commotion outside his house, Judge Elihu Hall Bay, a noted Charleston jurist, ordered the man’s companions to bring him into the house. Fearing that they could face consequences for their involvement with the dual, the young men fled after seeing their wounded friend into the house. The young man died.

It was reported that the commotion of the men bringing their wounded friend inside and then hurriedly fleeing was heard in the house on a regular basis. It has been noted, however, that since the home was converted to use as a church rectory in 1942, the sounds have ceased. 10, 18, 20

Simmons-Edwards House (14 Legare Street, private) Just outside of Francis Simmons’ old home (see the Simmons Gateposts, 131 Tradd Street for more information) a shadowy couple has been seen walking hand in hand on the street. Their identity is unknown. 12, 18
Simmons Gateposts, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.
Simmons Gateposts (131 Tradd Street) These gateposts, marking where Ruth Lowndes Simmons’ home once stood, serve as sentinels to remind us of a tragic love story. While Ruth Lowndes was from a noble Charleston family, she was almost a spinster when she married Francis Simmons, a wealthy planter. Simmons provided his wife with a fine house here, though he had his own home on nearby Legare Street. When their separate carriages would pass, the couple would rise and bow to the other. An old Charleston legend says that the sounds of a horse and carriage are heard here. James Caskey reports that he felt the rush of air and smelled the odor of sweaty horses as he visited these gateposts at night. 10, 12, 18

Sword Gate House (32 Legare Street, private) In the night, a spirit still prowls the halls of the magnificent house that stands beyond these iron gates wrought with swords. The gates were originally created to be used outside the city’s guardhouse, but were bought by Madame Talvande to guard her students after the city rejected the gates as too expensive. Even after the closure of the elite boarding school, legend speaks of Madame Talvande remaining here in spirit to see that her students remain moral and chaste. 6, 16, 20

The Tavern (120 East Bay Street) There are questions as to just how old this little building is. Some sources argue that it may well be one of the oldest buildings in the city, while others argue that it only dates to the early 19th century. Regardless, this building can claim an inordinate amount of history, mostly as a tavern and coffeehouse, as well as ghosts.

One owner spotted the specter of an 18th century gentleman walking through the back door of the building. Later, his vision was confirmed by a psychic visitor who saw the same gentleman and some other spirits still lingering here. There are numerous stories regarding the spirits who may linger in this old tavern building. 10, 20

Thomas Rose House (59 Church Street, private) This circa 1735 home may have never been occupied by Thomas Rose, who built the house. However, this house did serve as the residence of Dr. Joseph Ladd, a poet and physician, who was killed in a duel in Philadelphia Alley (see that listing here) with his friend Ralph Isaacs. The argument between them amounted to a misunderstanding, but was played out in the local newspapers and ending in a duel. Ladd, who had the habit of whistling, continues to be heard in the house as well as in the alley where he met the grim specter of death. 18, 20

White Point Gardens (Charleston Battery) If you stand at the corner of East Battery and South Battery, look down South Battery for the large stone monument. This monument marks the spot where Pirate Stede Bonnet and his men were executed. These pirates may be among the multitude of spirits here. See my article for further information and sources.

North of Broad Street

1837 Bed & Breakfast (126 Wentworth Street) A specter from Charleston’s infamous, slave-holding past is said to haunt the rooms of this bed and breakfast. Legend holds that the spirit, affectionately named George, was a slave owned by the family that originally constructed this house. After his parents were sold to a Virginia planter, the young boy remained here. In an attempt to reach his parents, George stole a rowboat and drowned in Charleston Harbor.

The story cannot be corroborated, though the spirit’s antics continue. Patrons have reported feeling small feet walking on their beds sometimes accompanied by the sound of a whip cracking. One couple had the doors to their armoire open and close on their own accord throughout the night. 6, 8, 10

82 Queen (82 Queen Street) For 33 years, 82 Queen has been serving some of Charleston’s finest meals in its 11 dining rooms. The restaurant utilizes a building built in 1865 where diners and staff have reported fleeting glimpses of apparitions. James Caskey in his Charleston’s Ghosts interviews a former server who reported that she “once walked through a shadow which dissipated around me like smoke.” 10, 36

Aiken-Rhett House (48 Elizabeth Street) According to Jonathan Poston’s The Buildings of Charleston, this estate is considered “the best-preserved complex of antebellum domestic structures” left in Charleston. The house remained in the family as a residence until it was donated to the Charleston Museum in the 1970s. Since its opening as a museum, the house has been left as is with conservation work done only to prevent deterioration.
Aiken-Rhett House, 2012. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.
This house was constructed in 1817 for merchant John Robinson, but following a financial reversal the house was purchased by William Aiken, Sr., founder and president of the South Carolina Railroad. Aiken’s son renovated the house and added a series of outbuildings including slave quarters to accommodate his many slaves. It is noted that by the eve of the Civil War, William Aiken, Jr. was the largest slave owner in the state where he also served as governor.

Within the slave quarters, two visitors encountered an African-American woman who disappeared in the warren of rooms on the second floor. Two architects within the house in the late 1980s saw the apparition of a woman in the mirror sobbing and silently screaming in the ballroom of the house. Others within the house have taken photographs with possible paranormal anomalies. 7, 19, 20, 30

Andrew Pinckney Inn (40 Pinckney Street) Occupying a pair of historic structures at the corner of Pinckney and Church Streets, the Andrew Pinckney Inn has been described as “mind bending” after dark; with a plethora of odd noises and movements. However, the spirits are known to be friendly. 10, 20

Benjamin Smith House (18 Montagu Street, private) This late 18th century home sustained damage during a hurricane in 1811. Legend holds that as the chimney collapsed the enslaved woman who served as a nanny to her owner’s children shielded them from the falling bricks with her body. She was killed as the bricks pummeled her but the children were saved. This home has since been divided into apartments and College of Charleston students living here have encountered the enslaved woman several times. 8, 20

Bocci’s Italian Restaurant (158 Church Street) Staff members here were once cleaning up in the second floor dining room. One of the staff members saw someone who they thought was the kitchen manager crouched by one of the walls. He called the manager’s name and got no response. Approaching the figure, the staff member realized that it was someone else and the figure was transparent. Perhaps the figure may be one of people killed in this building during a fire in the 19th century.
Bocci's, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.
This building was constructed in 1868 by the Molony family who operated Charleston’s Irish pub on the ground floor. When Governor Tilman attempted to control alcohol sales in the state, the family converted the pub into a grocery with a small room in the back for illegal alcohol sales.

Reports of paranormal activity in the building mostly come from the second and third floors where doors open and close by themselves, voices are heard and there is mysterious rapping on doors. 10, 21
Charleston Library Society, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.
Charleston Library Society (164 King Street) The Charleston Library Society is the third oldest private library in the country, having been organized in 1748. This structure was built in 1914 to house the library and perhaps some of the spirits that dwell among its highly regarded stacks. William Godber Hinson, whose precious library is housed within this building, may still remain among his books. One librarian reported to the Charleston Mercury that she saw a bearded gentleman in period clothing near the Hinson stacks. Other librarians in the area have experienced sudden blasts of icy air and heard the sounds of books moving in the same area. 4, 20 21

Charleston Place Hotel (205 Meeting Street) Built in the mid 1980s, this structure replaced a number of historic structures that were torn down. Denise Roffe mentions a number of odd occurrences here happening to guests and staff alike. These occurrences include mysterious footsteps, knocking on doors and apparitions. 21

Circular Congregational Church (150 Meeting Street) The long span of Meeting Street was named for the Congregational meeting house that has been located on this site since the 1680s, shortly after Charleston’s founding. The church building itself dates only to 1891 while the cemetery surrounding the building is the oldest cemetery in the city. Within its confines is the oldest slate grave marker in the United States: a small, unreadable stone now supported by a wooden frame. Many graves are unmarked and, according to the Bulldog Ghost & Dungeon Tour, many more lie under the adjacent bank parking lot. Among the old graves here there are also spirits. Numerous ghost tours pass by and a few pass through this ancient place. Joanne Davis’ entry on the churchyard in Jeff Belanger’s Encyclopedia of Haunted Places reveals that witnesses report orbs, strange mists, apparitions and voices under the ancient oaks here. 1, 11, 17, 21, 25

Dock Street Theatre (135 Church Street) The original Dock Street Theatre opened its doors in 1736 as, quite possibly, the second oldest edifice devoted to theatrical performance in the colonies. The structure lasted a little less than two decades before fire reduced it to a hollowed shell of brick. The theatre was rebuilt and remained a theatre through the remainder of the 18th century. In 1809 the structure became home to the Calder House Hotel (later known as the Planter’s Hotel) run by Alexander Calder—an ancestor of the 20th century American artist of the same name—to serve wealthy visitors to the city. During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration cobbled together the collection of old buildings on this site into the current reincarnation of the Dock Street Theatre which incorporates an 18th century styled theatre and possibly a few brick walls dating to the original 1736 theatre.
Dock Street Theatre, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.
A man in a tall hat and overcoat is sometimes seen in the theatre’s balcony and may sit in on rehearsals. In her Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, Denise Roffe reports on a young woman who saw this gentleman standing in the balcony when she visited.

Other stories center on a spirit known as “Netty” or “Nettie.” Likely dating to the same time as the gentleman’s spirit, legend has it that Nettie was a “working girl” who provided entertainment to the gentlemen who patronized the hotel. The legend continues with her dying a violent death on the balcony of the hotel, just above the entrance. While she was out upon the balcony one evening, the steel beam supporting the balcony was struck by lightning and she was electrocuted. According to author Terrance Zepke, her spirit form has been observed by passersby and also captured on film. Additionally, she lingers in the second floor backstage hall where she apparently appears to be walking on her knees as the floor was raised during the building’s renovations in the 1930s. Netty is still walking on the original floors. 8, 20, 21, 26, 27

Embassy Suites—Historic Charleston Hotel (337 Meeting Street) This building that dominates one side of Marion Square hardly looks like a typical chain hotel. This building was constructed as the South Carolina Arsenal in 1829 following the slave insurrection led by Denmark Vesey in 1822. The South Carolina Military Academy was founded here in 1842. The school, named The Citadel thanks to this structure, moved to its present site on the Ashley River in 1922.

Guests and staff members of this hotel have encountered the spirit of a Citadel cadet who remains in this building. He appears dressed in the school’s military uniform that remains unchanged from its original appearance. The only detail that indicates to the living that this is a ghost is the fact that the top of this young man’s head is missing. 8, 29, 38

Francis Marion Hotel (387 King Street) The most commonly told legend about this early 1920s-era hotel involves a young businessman from New York City. In 1929, after meeting and falling in love with a lovely lady from Charleston, Ned Cohen asked to be assigned to South Carolina by Florsheim Shoes. The young lady visited him at the hotel but left while he was asleep leaving a note saying that she could not carry on the relationship. In grief, he tucked the note in his suit pocket and jumped from his room to die on King Street below.

Guests in Ned Cohen’s former room have reported the window opening by itself. Cohen’s distraught form has been seen in the halls of the hotel while others have been disturbed to see someone falling past their windows. When they look out, everything is normal below. James Caskey reports that a search for documents to back up the story has proven fruitless. 8, 10, 19, 20

Husk (76 Queen Street) Now housing Husk, one of the more exclusive of Charleston’s restaurants, this Queen Anne styled house was built in the late 19th century. James Caskey published the account of a couple who saw a small, fleeting black shadow while dining here. 10, 20

Jasmine House Inn (64 Hassell Street) The only documented paranormal incident to take place in this 1843 house is rather humorous, though I’m sure the businessman involved did not see it that way. A gentleman staying in the Chrysanthemum Room some years ago was awakened to find the spirit of a woman within his room. When he tried to leave the room she blocked his way and shredded his newspaper. The guest was able to get to the phone and call the front desk to summon the manager. When the manager arrived, the shaken guest was alone in the room, but his mail had been tossed about and his newspaper lay in pieces on the floor. 10, 20, 23
Joe E. Berry Hall, 2012. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.

Joe E. Berry Hall – College of Charleston (162 Calhoun Street) This modern building stands on the site of the Charleston Orphan House, which was built in 1790. A story is commonly related that the orphanage was the scene of a fire in 1918 that killed four orphans, though there is no evidence of this. The orphanage was torn down in 1951 and a commercial building erected on the site. After the construction of Berry Hall, the building has been plagued with fire alarms problems. Even after replacing the system, the problems persist. Additionally, there are spectral sounds heard within the building including voices. 8, 10, 19
Mad River Grille, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.
Mad River Bar & Grille (32 North Market Street) The Church of the Redeemer was constructed in 1916 to replace the Mariner’s Church that was damaged in the Great Earthquake of 1886. The building’s use as a church ceased in 1964 and the building became a restaurant. Evidently, the spirits residing in the building do not approve of the building’s use as a restaurant. Bottles behind the bar have been thrown off the shelf and broken and electrical problems often occur with the restaurant’s system and computer systems. 9, 20, 21

Magnolia Cemetery (70 Cunnington Street) In the mid-19th century, this cemetery, located outside the bulk of the city of Charleston, became the primary burying ground for the best of Charleston’s citizens. Denise Roffe reports that there are some wandering spirits among the magnificent funerary art here. See my post, “Locked In,” for further information. 21

Meeting Street Inn (173 Meeting Street) When it opened in 1982, the Meeting Street Inn was one of the first bed and breakfasts to open in this city during the tourism boom of the 1980s. Guests staying in Room 107 have been awakened to the specter of a woman while Room 303 has had its deadbolt lock while guests are out of the room. 20, 23

Mills House Hotel (115 Meeting Street) The current Mills House Hotel is a reproduction of the original that was constructed on this site in 1853. By the early 1960s, the building was in such a severe state of disrepair that the original was torn down, but replaced with a reproduction that includes an additional two floors. The spirits here don’t appear to really know the difference and continue to reside here.
Mills House Hotel, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.
Denise Roffe reports that several children’s spirits have been reported here along with the specter of a man in a top hat. Confederate soldiers have also been seen prowling the corridors, hearkening back to the hotel’s use as a base for Confederate forces during the Civil War. 3, 10, 20, 21

Old Charleston Ghost Shop (168 Church Street) Sadly, this store is now closed, but it was a great place for all things creepy in Charleston. Of course, the shop also had some mischievous spirits that are reported to pull pictures from the walls, rummage through the cash drawers left over night and cause the occasional spectral racket. 10

Old City Jail (21 Magazine Street) In recent years, this formidable building has become a mecca for ghost hunters and tours within the city. Sadly, much of the legend surrounding the old jail is either exaggerated or total bunk. While many deaths likely occurred here, the number of 40,000 used by many guides is highly inaccurate. Also, the stories told about the crimes and execution of Lavinia Fisher are mostly fictional. Yes, Lavinia Fisher was held here and she and her husband were executed, but her crimes and rebellious demeanor on the gallows are the product of a later writer. If Lavinia Fisher does haunt this place, it is likely only in an attempt to clear her sullied name.

See my other articles on the jail for further information and sources. 2011 article and 2011 tour.
Old Slave Mart Museum, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.
Old Slave Mart (6 Chalmers Street) Now a museum devoted to the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, this building was originally constructed as Ryan’s Mart, a slave market, in 1859. The last slave sales occurred here in 1863, but the misery induced by those few years of sales remains. According to Denise Roffe, museum employees have had run-ins with shadowy figures within this building. 10, 20, 21

Philadelphia Alley (Philadelphia Alley, between Cumberland and Queen Streets) The name Philadelphia, meaning “brotherhood,” contradicts this space’s occasional use as a dueling site. The sounds of dueling remain here accompanied, according to some reports, by a faint, spectral whistling. It was here that the duel of Joseph Ladd and Ralph Isaacs commenced and the whistling has been attributed to Ladd’s sad spirit. See the entry for Ladd’s former home, the Thomas Rose House at 59 Church Street, for further information. 10, 16, 20
Pink House, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.
Pink House (17 Chalmers Street) This quaint house is among the oldest buildings in the city, having been constructed around 1712. This house is believed to have housed a tavern in that time that was owned and operated by female pirate Anne Bonny. Geordie Buxton suggests that the feminine spirit here may be her shade. 2, 19, 20

Poogan’s Porch (72 Queen Street) Poogan, a local pooch, adopted the porch of this restaurant around the time this house was converted from a residence into a restaurant. Upon his death, the restaurant owners afforded him a prime burial spot just inside the gate. One author witnessed a child playing under his parent’s table one evening. The way the child was laughing and cavorting with something unseen. The assumption was made that the child may have been playing with the spirit of Poogan.

But it is the spirit of Zoe St. Armand who dominates this restaurant. St. Armand was one of a pair of spinster sisters who lived here for many years. The wraith of Zoe has been spotted in the women’s restroom and lingering at the top of the stairs by patrons and staff alike. 10, 19, 21

Riviera Theatre (225 King Street) This Art Deco landmark opened in 1939 and closed as a cinema in 1977. After being saved from demolition in the 1980s, the theatre was purchased by the Charleston Place Hotel which uses the space for a conference center and ballroom.
Riviera Theatre, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
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Denise Roffe writes that during the theatre’s renovations, a worker had tools disappear only to reappear some days later in the exact spot where he had left them. She also mentions that a young woman touring the building had an encounter with a spectral cleaning woman. She only realized the woman was a ghost when she realized the figure was transparent. 21, 37

St. Philips Episcopal Church (146 Church Street) With a commanding view of Church Street, it’s hard to miss St. Philips. The building’s massive portico protrudes into the street and the steeple acts as a stern finger warning the city of the wages of sin. The clean and stringent Classical lines of the church seem to set the tone for the remainder of the city. The first structure on this site was a cypress structure constructed in 1682. It was replaced in the early 18th century with an English Baroque church. The current structure was built after the Baroque church’s destruction by fire in 1835. Because of its architectural and historical importance, St. Philips is now a National Historic Landmark.

Around this church lies an ancient churchyard that serves as the final resting place for many prominent Charlestonians and a stopping point for numerous ghost tours. To address the ghost tours, just inside the gate to the left of the church building is a small sign stating, “The only ghost at the church is the Holy Ghost.” One of the more recent paranormal events took place in 1987 when a photographer snapped a few pictures just inside the gate. When the pictures were developed, he was shocked to see the image of a woman kneeling on a grave. Further research has indicated that the grave is that of a socialite who had passed nearly a century before. The photograph was taken on the anniversary of her death. 6, 20, 21, 35

Southend Brewery (161 East Bay Street) As you pass the Southend Brewery, look towards the third floor windows. Ill-fated businessman, George Poirer was looking through these windows as he took his life in 1885. His body was discovered hanging from the rafters here after being seen by a passerby the following morning. Poirer was upset over losing his fortune when a ship he had invested in burned on its way out of Charleston Harbor.
Southend Brewery, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
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This building was built in 1880 for F. W. Wagner & Company. Paranormal activity has been reported throughout the building after its conversion to a brewery and restaurant. In addition to the occasional vision of someone hanging on the upper floors, restaurant staff have heard spectral voices and experienced odd breezes. 7, 10, 19, 20
Tommy Condon's Irish Pub, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
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Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub (160 Church Street) On the floor around the bar of this Irish pub, a metal track still runs reminding visitors of this building’s original use: as a candy factory. According to Denise Roffe, this building is apparently a warehouse for ghosts. She notes that a certain section of the restaurant feels very uneasy to guests and staff alike, while the women’s restroom and the kitchen also play host to spirits. 21

Unitarian Church and Churchyard (4 Archdale Street) A lady in white walks through the garden-like churchyard here. Over the years, a story has arisen saying that this woman was one of the loves of the great American writer, Edgar Allen Poe. Poe did spend some time here and the connection has been made that the woman was celebrated in Poe’s poem, “Annabel Lee.” There is no real connection that can be made, but the Lady in White still takes regular strolls through the churchyard here.
Interior of the Unitarian Church, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV.
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This historic churchyard is one of the most magnificent places to sit and contemplate in the city of Charleston. Be sure to also see the interior of the church here. The fan vaulted ceiling is magnificent. 10, 20, 24

Urban Outfitters (formerly the Garden Theatre) (371 King Street) Walk in to this store and look up at the magnificent ceiling. This building was once the Garden Theatre, a vaudeville theatre built in 1917. The theatre was restored in the 1980s as a theatre, though most of the fitting were removed when the building was converted for commercial use in recent years. The spirit of an African-American man, possibly a former usher, has been seen within the building. 7, 20, 21

Further Afield

Angel Oak Park (3688 Angel Oak, John’s Island) Considered one of the oldest living things on the East Coast, it is hard to not feel the benevolent energy emanating from this mighty tree. There is evidence that this tree has served as a meeting spot for Native Americans, slaves and slave owners whose spirits still remain among the massive branches. See my article for further information and sources.

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge (US 17 over the Cooper River) Rising over the old buildings of Charleston is the majestic Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, the third longest cable-stay bridge in the Western Hemisphere which connects Charleston and Mount Pleasant. This bridge replaced two bridges: the John P. Grace Memorial Bridge opened in 1929 and the Silas N. Pearman Bridge which opened in 1966.

The John P. Grace Memorial Bridge was the scene of a terrible accident in 1946. A drifting cargo ship rammed the bridge ripping a 240-foot section. As the ship destroyed a section of the bridge a green Oldsmobile with a family of five was traveling over. The car dropped into the water killing the family. The bridge was repaired and continued to be used for many years, though there were reports of an odd green Oldsmobile seen on the bridge with a family of five inside, all staring straight ahead with lifeless eyes. Since the bridge’s demolition, the sightings of the car have stopped. 10, 22, 31, 34

Drayton Hall (3380 Ashley River Road) Of all the great homes in Charleston, perhaps no house is described with as many superlatives, and deservedly so, than Drayton Hall. The form nominating this structure to the National Register of Historic Places describes it as “without question, one of the finest of all surviving plantation houses in America.” The house remains in a remarkable state of preservation having been changed very little since its construction in 1738.

According to Ed Macy and Geordie Buxton’s Haunted Charleston, a psychic visiting this home in 2000 saw the bodies of four men dangling from the branches of the majestic oaks that line the approach to the house from the Ashley River. She stated that these men had been hung on orders from William Henry Drayton for their fealty to George III, during the American Revolution. Drayton’s spirit may also be among the spirits still wafting about this estate. Docents and visitors have reported seeing a man peering from the windows of the house and walking the avenue of oaks. 8, 28

Fort Sumter (Charleston Harbor) On April 12, 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired here when Confederates led an attack on this fort in Charleston Harbor. Interestingly, no one was killed in the initial bombardment of the fort. After the surrender, the Union commander, Major Robert Anderson, asked that his men be allowed to perform a 100-gun salute to the American flag before it was lowered. During that salute a pile of cartridges exploded wounding six men, two of whom died later of their injuries. One of those men, Private Daniel Hough is believed to return as a smoky form. His possible visage can also be seen in the flag of the Palmetto Guard that was raised in the flag’s place. 15, 26, 32

Patriot’s Point – USS Yorktown (40 Patriot’s Point Road, Mount Pleasant) Just days before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the keel of this fighting lady was laid. Just two years later, in 1943, this grand grey ship entered service. She fought in the Pacific during World War II and the Vietnam War. Since the ship’s retirement in 1973 and its donation to Patriot’s Point, guests and staff have had numerous paranormal experiences. See my article for further information and sources.


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26 Bull, Elias B. (2 January 1972) Dock Street Theatre.
27 Dillon, James. (August 1976) Drayton Hall.
28 Fant, Mrs. James W. (16 May 1970) Old Citadel.

29 Aiken-Rhett House Museum.” Historic Charleston Foundation.
        Accessed 12 May 2015.
30 Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
        Accessed 12 May 2015.
31 Battle of Fort Sumter.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed
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32 Ghost Sightings.” Battery Carriage House Inn. Accessed 31 October
33 John P. Grace Memorial Bridge.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
        Accessed 12 May 2015.
34 Our History.” St. Philip’s Church. Accessed 22 February 2011.
35 Queen Street Hospitality.” 82 Queen. Accessed 12 May 2015.
36 Riviera Theatre.” Cinema Treasures. Accessed 12 May 2015.
37 South Carolina State Arsenal.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
        Accessed 12 May 2015.
38 Theodosia Burr Alston.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed
        12 May 2015.