When planning a visit to Charleston, South Carolina, the first thing you need to do is book a room. Well, I suppose this is the case when visiting most places, even if you have family living in the area. (then book one of our ghost tours)
As you consider your options, perhaps look beyond the hotel chains for something quintessentially Charleston. If you’re looking for something a little more exciting and memorable than some quaint B&B, then you are in luck. Charleston is home to one of the most haunted inns in the south.
That inn is of course the Battery Carriage House. According to some who have stayed the night, you just may get more than you bargain for, as some have reported awaking from a deep sleep only to find a restless spirit lying right next to them.
Whenever someone talks about haunted Charleston, you can bet one of the first locations to be mention will be the Battery Carriage House. The inn has been featured on countless lists of top haunted places, and is backed up by endless paranormal experiences.
The Inn’s haunting story, like most places in the south is heavily tied to wars. In the case of the Battery Carriage House, the war that left it scarred and battered with supernatural energy was the Civil War.
Upon staying at the Inn, you would be wise to just accept the fact that you are a guest staying in a house owned by ghosts. So, remember to mind your manners, if you wind up staying the night at the Battery Carriage House, as it would unwise to offend any ghost let alone a South Carolina ghost.
The Batter Carriage House (located at 20 South Battery) is not only one of the most haunted establishment in Charleston, but also one of the city’s most historic hotels. The inn’s existence began in the 1840s, on the 7th of June in the year of 1843 to be exact. It was on this date, that a man by the name of Samuel Stevens purchase the land for what would become the foundation for the famously haunted inn.
Stevens bought the property for 4,500 dollars, a sum that he could well afford, as he had become wealthy from his position as a commercial agent for owners of plantations.
The house which was constructed by Steven is not exactly the structure you’ll find standing today. But, anything coming up on 175 years of age is bound to be a little different. One thing that is the same is that 20 South Battery is still located near the waterfront. And, unless Lex Luthor switches gears from California to South Carolina (plot from ‘78 Superman), and sinks the state into the ocean, I don’t envision the inn’s location changing.
Originally, the home was built in the way of many other houses that can be found throughout Charleston, with the city’s trademark neoclassical style. One of the biggest differences, the structure was basically a single house.
Around 1859, just about 16 years after Stevens built his house, he sold the property in which the structure stood upon to John F. Blacklock. Blacklock, went on to move his own house, located at 18 Bull Street to his new land at 20 South Battery.
Unfortunately, shortly after Blacklock moved into the new and improved 20 South Battery, the Civil War began. Blacklock was forced to abandoned the house, and never again called it home. He sold the property in the year of 1870 to the Yankee Colonel Richard Lathers.
Following the war, Charleston’s economy fell on hard times, with many of the city’s southern merchants having lost everything. Many properties sat vacant, as there weren’t enough buyers willing to invest in the crumbling Charleston.
Lathers, was one person who was willing to bet on the city. The Yankee Colonel, hired the architect John Henry Devereux, a former Confederate Captain, to renovate the 20 South Battery house with the modern (of the era) Second Empire styling which was commonly found in New York.
Some of the features added to the house included a library, and a ballroom. The initial premise of the ballroom was for dancing (duh), but it quickly became utilized as a conference room instead.
Always trying to drum up business for Charleston’s struggling economy, Lathers would frequently invite his friend from New York, some of whom were politicians and financiers. He would take his friends on a tour of the city, to meet with the people of Charleston and to witness the great potential the city had to offer.
Despite, Lathers efforts, the wounds of the Civil War were too great, and the locals were unwilling to trust businessmen from up North. This mindset lead to the city's stagnant economy, even while cities like Atlanta were able to reconcile and progress.
The people of Charleston grew tired of the Yankee Colonel and his influences, and did not hide their displeasure. Lathers, grew tired himself, tired of trying to help a city uninterested in modernizing and unaccepting the Union. With his frustrations peaked, he decided that it was time to leave the City of Charleston.
In the year of 1874, Lather sold the house he spent years renovating to Andrew Simonds. Simonds was a member of the Calhoun family, one of the most respected and cherished families in South Carolina.
The Calhoun family was one of the few South Carolina families able to weather the Civil War storm, and continued to grow their wealth.
Simonds like his family was quite successful in his business ventures. Most notably, was his establishing of the First National Bank of South Carolina and the Imperial Fertilizer Company. In addition to his bank and fertilizer company, Simonds had a fleet of ships for trade.
For all of Simonds independent success, his personal life suffered. His son, his namesake, was unable to follow in his father’s footstep, after a love for alcohol and partying landed him into a sanatorium in Baltimore.
As for Simonds’ marriage, on the surface it seemed idyllic, his beautiful wife Daisy Breaux was known for throwing lavish parties at the Villa Margarita. His family’s flamboyant lifestyle at times was too much for Simonds to handle. So, in order to find peace amidst his family’s chaos, Simond delved into world of art.
The Simonds family sold the house in 1912, and from there on, 20 South Battery would become home to numerous occupants. One of the first to call the house their home was the Society for Preservation of Old Dwellings. The society, is believed to be the oldest one in the country.
The society’s goal was in direct contrast to efforts lead by Col. Lathers. While, Lathers was all about creating new, the society worked tirelessly to preserve Charleston historic landmarks before they vanished.
During the ‘40s, Charleston was transformed into a Navy town. Much like New Orleans, this was an era of “OG” activity, and we’re not just talking about drinking. No, we’re talking about gambling, nightclubbing, strippers, and prostitutes too.
Legend has it, during this time, future President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, took part in the wild ways of Charleston, at the top notch Fort Sumter Hotel.
In the ‘60s, Charleston slowly started regaining its once respected reputation. Shying away from the wild partying types, 20 South Bowery underwent another renovation. This time around, it was converted into apartments for college kids, because as we all know college kids don’t party (wink).
The Battery would only serve as apartments over the next two decades, as by the 1980s it once again became a hotel, the hotel that you will see today upon your arrival. Now known as the Battery Carriage House, the inn is owned by the 2nd great-grandson of Andrew Simonds, Drayton Hastie.
Despite the Battery Carriage’s age, and haunted reputation, you will be surprised upon entering this flawless throwback, as it seems to be unravished by time. This is the result of the inn’s beautiful restoration and management’s work to properly preserve the structure.
But, make no mistakes, the inn’s picturesque atmosphere does not disway the ghostly sort into looking for a more prototypical location for them to inhabit. One with rotten floors and cobwebs in every corner. No, the ghosts are perfectly content to remain at the Battery Carriage House.
One of Charleston’s most paranormally active locations is the Battery Carriage House. The hauntings at the Inn, actually date back in time to just after the Civil War. Today, there are said to be numerous spirits that roam about the Battery Carriage.
Guests and employees alike, have reportedly had run-ins with these spirits. The paranormal disturbance that occur at the inn, are so profound, that the happenings on the grounds have converted many skeptics who have stayed the night over the years.
Some of the ghosts at the inn are apparently creatures of habit, as for one reason or another they tend to stick to their designated areas within the walls of the house. As such, if you are hoping to have a supernatural experience, there are three rooms in particular where you are more likely to have an encounter.
The first of these three haunted room, ironically is Room 3. One of the most infamous stories to take place in the room, happened sometime ago, when a married couple had decided to spend the night at the inn.
Tired from a long day, the couple went straight to bed, unfortunately for them a peaceful night rest was not in the cards. The two were suddenly woken up sometime after midnight, by the husband’s cellphone. Cellphone, so what? Well, I’ll tell you what, the phone wasn’t ringing, it was making a loud and odd noise, moreover the husband had shut his phone off prior to going to bed.
The couple also apparently witnessed an orb floating around the room on their first night, and again spotted the orb on their second night. The husband claimed that on the second night there appeared to be even more glowing shapes orbing about the room.
After the couple’s second night of restless sleep, they met with a psychic, who was also a guest at the Battery Carriage. The couple asked her to check out the room, and upon her entry she did indeed feel the presence of multiple spirits. At the couple’s request the psychic asked the spirits to leave the room.
The following morning, the couple met up with the psychic, and informed her that the spirits must have actually left the room, as for first time and three nights they were able to sleep soundly.
The honor of most ominous room in the Battery Carriage goes to Room 8. The ghost that haunts this room is one you certainly do not want to encounter, Those who have, have recounted their night in the room, as one that continuously comes alive in their nightmares.
So, what is so terrifying about the ghost in Room 8. Well, for starters this isn’t your typical apparitions, at least not like ones that you can commonly find in the South. As the typical southern ghost tends to be either a lady in white, a Civil War soldier, or a small child.
This unusual ghost that has sent people running for their cars, is said to appear before guests sound asleep in the middle of the night. Inevitably, making some strange noise to wake those with heavy eyes up from their deep slumber. The ghastly sight the guest awakes to is the inexplicable sight of a floating headless torso.
In the year of 1993, a skeptic had booked Room 8. Upon telling others of the room in which he had planned to stay the night in, he was warned repeatedly to switch to a different room or book with another hotel altogether. The skeptic was unphased by the warnings given to him, in fact he Laughed them off.
That night he checked into the inn, and went to his room for the night. Like most ghostly encounters at the Battery Carriage, the skeptic was awaken by a disturbance, and it was then that his non-believer status suddenly change. For it was at that moment he saw the headless torso. Brazenly, he even decided to reached out to touch the lumbering spirit. Only to retract his hand, upon hearing the animalistic growl the spirit let out.
You’re best chance to see a ghost at the Battery Carriage is in Room 10. Now, this is not one of those especially scary ghosts, as his name clearly indicates. The Gentleman Ghost, a moniker given the to spirit by the inn’s staff, is known for graciously sharing his room with any and all guests.
People who have seen the apparition of the Gentleman Ghost have described him as a grayish shadow. He usually appears to be of average height and built, and tends to glide about the room rather stylishly.
The ghost is quite fond of the bed, and has been known to startled guests by laying peacefully on the bed. Despite his peaceful demeanor, you can’t blame someone for being surprised upon discovering a ghost asleep in their bed, like some spooky Goldilocks.
Not all of whom, who have stayed the night it Room 10 have had experiences with the Gentleman Ghost. Some have instead experienced rather strange occurrences in the room, such as the feeling of a watchful eye of an unknown presence gazing over them as they unpack their suitcase.
One woman was apparently so unnerved by her stay in the room, she spent the whole night reading the bible. She eventually drifted off, awaking the following morning with her bible still clutched in her hands.
There are many rumors as to who the ghosts once were. Some theorize the headless torso could have been a Civil War soldier, who died a viciously painful death.
As for the Gentleman Ghost, it is believed that he was likely a college kids from the days when the Battery served as apartments for university students. The student was apparently depressed and committed suicide in his room.
There are plenty of more ghosts waiting to be encountered at the Battery Carriage House Inn, but remember to be cautious when staying at 20 South Battery.