Haunted Charleston - The Old Jail

Visit one of the most Haunted Charleston locations!

The Old City Jail is a beautifully gloomy, castle-like structure standing tall in downtown Charleston. While nearby streets boast pastel-colored homes, historical churches and stunning gardens, there also sits this aging gray building with a dark history that contrasts dramatically to the Holy City’s otherwise romantic air.

Constructed in 1802, the building served as the county jail until 1939. In its 137 year existence, over 14,000 people died on the ground’s four acres. Overpopulation of the jail caused particular misery and disease, and living conditions weren’t fit for any living being. It’s no wonder that so many spirits allegedly continue to roam about the jail still today, upset and unsettled about the horrors they experienced many years ago.

According to Bulldog Tours’ guide Sean Pike, a plenty of prisoners were falsely imprisoned at the jail, but William Marcus wasn’t one of them. Marcus, a.k.a. Crazy Willie, came to Charleston from Cincinnati and married a local businessman’s nanny, Maggie Stone. Things went sour when Marcus accused his wife of cheating. His jealousy landed Marcus in the slammer after he stabbed Maggie 47 times with an ice pick and dumped her body in the sea at Folly Beach, 11 miles from downtown Charleston. At their house, Marcus waited for the police to arrive, never attempting to cover up the murder. “He told them she deserved it,” Sean tells tour goers when relating this gruesome tale.

Marcus was convicted and jailed on the third floor where the “worst-of-the-worst” criminals were housed, many of whom were mentally ill. He died at the gallows behind the jail. Ever since, the destructive spirit of William Marcus has haunted that third story-room. “He’s been known to throw things around,” Sean begins, and since the jail is the current residence of the American College of the Building Arts, projects have been known to get ruined. Sean goes on to explain, “If he doesn’t like the project, he’ll destroy it.”

While third-floor guests often feel cold breezes or experience a racing heart, downstairs the spirit of Cedric has made itself known to plenty of visitors. A group of paranormal investigators discovered Cedric’s spirit, and Sean dug through state archives to confirm their findings. He found that, yes; there had been an evil guy of that name working in the infamous jail, a German immigrant who was employed as the warden in the 1830s. His services were no longer needed after he was cited five times for abuse of prisoners.

Though it was the job of the wardens to punish and flog the criminals, Cedric’s sadistic brand of torture crossed the line. A guard’s journal claims that Cedric once dumped burning embers onto someone’s private parts. “He’s the most violent spirit we have in that jail,” Sean says. In fact, one former Bulldog guide encountered Cedric on the ground floor of the jail once — but once was all he needed. The guide encountered a cold spot, felt someone grab his shoulder, and heard a voice tell him to get out.

There are many spirits lingering at the Old Jail, many of which don’t mind making themselves known. Bulldog Tours takes guests into the jail each night at 7, 8, 9 and 10 pm for tours filled with historical facts and, many times, frightening experiences.  Join Sean Pike, or one of Bulldog’s other knowledgeable guides and experience The Haunted Jail – if you dare!

For tour reservations, call 843-722-8687 or visit www.bulldogtours.com.  If The Haunted Jail sounds just a little too scary, Bulldog Tours offers a wide selection of exciting tours of Historic Charleston.