19 July 2010

Old Charleston Jail

Old Charleston Jail, Magazine St., Charleston, S.C.

After a brunch at the Queen St. Grocery on Sunday morning, my friend Becca offered to walk us through her new office - in the old Charleston Jail. Oh yes, yes, yes. I've taken pictures over the wall but was itching to get inside to explore.

The American College of Building Arts is currently using the jail for their offices and studios but other than being structurally stabilized it remains very much as it was left.
The Old Jail housed a great variety of inmates. John and Lavinia Fisher, and other members of their gang, convicted of robbery and murder in the Charleston Neck region were imprisoned here in 1819 to 1820. Some of the last 19th-century high-sea pirates were jailed here in 1822 while they awaited hanging. The jail was active after the discovery of Denmark Vesey's planned slave revolt. In addition to several hundreds of free blacks and slaves jailed for their involvement, four white men convicted of supporting the 1822 plot were imprisoned here. Vesey spent his last days in the tower before being hanged. Increased restrictions were placed on slaves and free blacks in Charleston as a result of the Vesey plot, and law required that all black seaman be kept here while they were in port. During the Civil War, Confederate and Federal prisoners of war were incarcerated here.

Naturally there is a popular ghost tour. The Bulldog Tour site claims, "This is quite possibly the scariest place you will ever go. The experience is NOT recommended for small children or men that cry easily."

Sing along now....

Down in Charleston Jail
(Sergeant Johnson)

When I enlisted in the army,
Then I thought 't was grand,
Marching through the streets of Boston
Behind a regimental band.
When at Wagner I was captured,
Then my courage failed;
Now I'm dirty, hungry, naked,
Here in Charleston jail.

cho: Weeping, sad and lonely,
Oh, how bad I feel!
Down in Charleston, South Carolina,
Praying for a good square meal.

Rip off. I don't see any ghosts in my pictures.


  1. What a creepy yet appealing building. Very well shot.

    Darryl and Ruth : )

  2. I always loved this building, not that I would have ever wanted to live there. I am glad to see that it still stands and is being re-purposed. Does the housing project still surround it?

  3. I see ghosts in these pictures! A fine photographer/artist depicts souls who lived the history of places like this in their images, and that's exactly what you have done!

    More! More!

  4. I just recently took this tour (at night) and it was a lot of fun. It's great to see what it looks like in the day light! Great pictures!

  5. Darryl & Ruth - thank you! We are lucky the building is still here.

    Les - Yes, the housing project is still there. A friend of mine said there used to be a gallows in the yard when they played there as kids.

    MrScribbler - It's always obvious that you are the writer! Thanks.

    de - I bet it was. A tour bus stopped while we were there. Boo!

  6. Anonymous1:39 PM

    Great post as always Joan.....Glad to see Mr Scribblers comments again, I missed them :( Enjoy your wit. Sally

  7. My favorite building in Charleston!! I was thrilled when Bulldog started their tours there! I could finally go in!! I would love the opportunity to go in the daytime! Lucky, lucky!

  8. This jail is beyond cool. History like this so foreign for me being a native Las Vegan. A nerd like me (who doesn't really love the Strip) is a history-hound! I would spend like 5 hours at that place no prob. Hiring for a bail bondsman anywhere out in the SC area? Lol


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