Old Charleston Jail
I spent quite awhile wandering around this old old place on a quiet afternoon. There was no one about. I was captivated by the architecture, the old stones, bricks, the ironwork, the arches, the bars on the windows...all the history. I am so proud of how my photos turned out. These are some of my favorite of all time I've done.
But.........Did we go in? Nope!
Are we gonna?...ha ha NOPE!
First of all, I spend hours researching and photographing all things historical in our city and area. Neighborhoods, church ruins, forgotten corners, old buildings, monuments, and mansions, ancient streets, churches, peaceful cemeteries, war history, old gardens,amazing alleys, old maps, etc. All my cup of tea.
And there's not a night goes by that we don't happen upon small groups of people, usually tourists, walking the streets on the popular 'ghost tours'.
But I had never given the old jail any thought and not studied it at all, never photographed it. So when I was there concentrating on the amazing old Romanesque Revival architecture and lines of the place I certainly wasn't thinking about anything "scary".
After I came home and looked at my photos I was intrigued, as I always am. When I make pictures then I want to KNOW about the places and the history. I love to dig and dig and DIG until I find out neat and interesting things. And I sure enjoy sharing those things.
So after I looked at my photos...I found out these things.
The prison has an awful reputation...LOL It was built around 1802 or so. But long before it was built, the land it sits on had been other things....in the 1600s....a poorhouse, a hospital, and even a jail for runaway slaves. The first known woman serial killer who would also be the first SC woman to get the death penalty died here. I think she was hanged in 1820.
So you can imagine all the 'ghost stories' about this place. And wow, it sure does look "spooky", doesn't it? LOL
There even used to be a castle-like turret tower room back towards the middle/back of the structure. I'm not sure it it was a room for prisoners, or maybe a watch tower? An earthquake took it out many years ago.
Alot of what I read claims much of the (scary) history is just tall tales, fabrications, and people's imaginations.
The real facts are that indeed, this place WAS the city's prison, back in the days when prisons housed mentally ill people, pirates, highwaymen and hoodlums, murderers, and just all kinds of criminals and serial killers. It was a wild, violent, and untamed city in the early days....and many of the peaceful and beautiful streets we calmly STROLL these days, and enjoy, were rough and full of bad people, scary people, and many duels were fought on our sidewalks and in our alleys. Charleston was, and is a port city...hundreds of pirates ended up in this jail. It is estimated that well over 10,000 inmates died here.
We talk today about how our prisons are overcrowded...wow...the conditions in a prison such as this one make today's prisons look like Disneyland, LOL No heating, no air conditioning and if you live in or have visited Charleston in the heat of the summer you know what I am talking about.
Cramming all those criminals and sick people into tiny dark cells, many with no windows at all and certainly no breezes. No medical care, poor food, huge rats, no restrooms, dirty water.The place was full of disease. Just as many of the prisoners that were sentenced to this jail died from the violent and sickness plagued conditions of the place,---- before they even got to their executions. Back then the prisoners didn't just 'live there'....many were tortured as well, and most of them were in chains. Yes, it was CRUEL AND INHUMANE treatment. But they were in there for a REASON. Thiefs, robbers, murderers of women and innocent children, rapists.
I guess if prisons had remained like the old Charleston City Jail....I'd venture to say that we would maybe have alot less crime...if they knew THIS WAS THEIR FATE. (what do you think?)
this is the "mild" link to the old jail. (in other words...not too scary, mostly historical)
the old charleston jailhouse
if you're braver and not "scared of no ghosts" , and want to read more, google it yourself and find lots more. LOL ha ha