Charleston Old City Jail is located in the heart of Charleston, South Carolina.
The jail was built in 1802 and was the Charleston jail until 1939. Most of this building is the original structure, but there are places that had to be renovated shortly after opening. The Old City Jail was known for housing some of the worst criminals in the city. The criminals here committed crimes such as murders and theft. The way that it was set up had the worst criminals all on the same floor and so on. The first floor was set up for “gentlemen” criminal, the second floor was for debtors and prostitutes, and the third floor was for murders and thieves. There were a few of these hardened criminals that were hanged in the yard at the jail. There were some criminals here that did die inside of the jail’s walls due to natural causes as well.
The Old City Jail was used as a POW camp during the Civil War. The jail actually ran out of space for all of the Union soldiers there. Some of them were forced to sleep outside because of the overcrowding. During the 1886 earthquake, the jail was damaged and had to go through some renovations.The jail’s tower and entire top floor of the main building was damaged. These parts ended up being removed from the Old City Jail because the damage was too much to repair. In 1911, the last man to be hanged at the jail was hanged. The gallows were then removed and never used again. The 1930’s saw the jail in a terrible condition. In 1939, it was officially closed after being the city’s jail for 136 years!
The jail did become a museum in the 70’s and then it was sold in the 90’s to the Charleston Housing Authority. It became the American College of the Building Arts and is used to show students about renovating and restoring historic buildings. The building is still being used and those who have come inside all have a tale to tell. Some of them have heard some strange sounds, while others have seen what they think are spirits and ghosts. We have many of their stories and would love to share them all with you!
Just like many other haunted buildings, the Old City Jail has quite the haunted history. There are thousands of people that died here and that could be part of the reason that many spirits have come back to find peace or rest. No matter what they are looking for, they have caused quite a stir around here. The jail used to be a hospital, a poor house, and then it became a home for runaway slaves. Over 10,000 people have died in this building! Cell mates died from sickness, injuries, homicides, and executions. No wonder there are some uneasy souls in here!
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