Old City Jail
Serving as the Charleston County Jail from 1802 until 1939, the Old City Jail is a historic jail that is said to be haunted by the prisoners that once lived there. Whether you believe in ghost stories or you’re simply interested in learning more about Charleston’s history, the Old City Jail is a great place to add to your list of attractions to see during your vacation. Read on to find out more about the Old City Jail!
An Iconic Attraction in Charleston
The Old City Jail first began its life as part of a 4-acre plot of land set aside in 1680 during the founding of Charleston. Over the centuries, a hospital, a poor house, a workhouse for runaway slaves, and the Old City Jail were all built on this plot of land, with the Old City Jail being constructed in 1802.
The Old City Jail is distinguishable by its gorgeous Romanesque Revival architecture and its octagonal rear wing. Within its walls, the likes of notorious prisoners such as Charleston Neck robbers and murderers Lavinia and John Fisher, who were said to have lured their victims to their inn before robbing them and poisoning them with tea or dumping them from their beds into a pit of spikes, spent their last days. Other notable prisoners included some of the last pirates of the 19th century, Union and Confederate prisoners of war, and several hundred slaves and 4 white men who were convicted of planning to participate in a revolt led by church leader Denmark Vesey. The fallout of the failed revolt led to the hanging of Denmark Vesey and greater restrictions on freed black people and slaves alike, which included keeping all black seamen at The Old City Jail while they were in port.
In modern times, the Old City Jail is now used by the American College of the Building Arts. However, tours of the building are offered nightly, with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas, through services like Bulldog Tours.
You’ll find the Old City Jail in downtown Charleston at 21 Magazine St., Charleston, SC 29401. You can also reach Bulldog Tours to reserve your spot on a tour at (843) 722-8687 (TOUR).
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