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The Ghosts of Charleston's Old City Jail

August 13, 2019 - Posted in Palmetto Scene by Tabitha Safdi

Built in 1802 and operational until 1939, the Old Charleston Jail housed the city’s most notorious criminals. Among those criminals, John and Lavinia Fisher and members of their gang were kept there until their execution in 1820. Among other famous prisoners, Denmark Vesey, accused of planning a slave revolt in 1822, Jaque Alexander Tardy, pirate, and Civil War POWs. 

In 1886, the devastating earthquake that rocked most of Charleston badly damaged the Old Jail. Originally four stories, the building now sits at three stories after the fourth had to be removed due to damage. In 2000, the building was acquired by the American College of Building Arts and used for their primary location until 2016, when they moved to a larger location. 

In 2003, the tour company Bulldog Tours, founded by John LaVerne, started daytime and nighttime ghost tours through the building. It has been featured on multiple programs, including: Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, and the Travel Channel. Bulldog Tours has contributed over $1 million to the restoration of the historical building. Many visitors have claimed to have experienced supernatural encounters. Would a tour through the Old City Jail at night be enough to make you a believer?

Video by Charles Dymock and Tabitha Safdi

Edited by Murphey White

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