Old City Jail
* Charleston, South Carolina *
Just on the fringe of historic downtown is one of Charleston’s most infamous sites, especially amongst ghost and pirate tours is The Old Charleston Jail. It was well known as the melting pot of some of America’s most heinous criminals in the founding days such as civil war prisoners, 19th century pirates, and infamous criminals such as Lavinia Fisher. The Jail operated from 1802 until 1939. It was also the County Jail until 1939. When Charleston was laid out and built, a 4 acre section of land was set aside in 1680 here for public use. It eventually became a site of a poor house, a hospital, workhouse for runaway slaves, and finally the jail was built on the square in 1802. Originally it was 4 stores wit ha two story octagonal tower. It was stamped Fireproof by Robert Mills in 1822. In 1855 renovations and alterations added a rear octagonal wing, main building expanded, and Romanesque Revival details were added. The 1886 Earthquake damaged the tower and top story which were eventually removed for safety. During the Civil War, confederate and federal prisoners of war were incarcerated here. After sitting vacant for 61 years, the American College of the Building Arts acquired the jail from the City in 2000 and preserved its history with emergency stabilization aid. Today it serves as an inspirational living laboratory and classroom for ACBA students. Bulldog Tour’s Haunted Jail Tour takes patrons through the cells, hallways, and rooms as it is presumed haunted by the spirits of deceased prisoners who died in the jail.