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.