Old Charleston Jail
The Old Charleston Jail was built in 1802 and was shut down in 1939. Before the jail's construction, the four acre lot that the jail was built on was set aside for public use for the construction of several buildings, including a hospital, poor house, and a workhouse for runaway slaves. In 1822, an architect named Robert Mills designed a fireproof four-story wing, but was demolished in 1855 and was replaced with an octagonal wing created by the architects Barbot & Seyle. However, in 1886, an earthquake damaged the rear tower as well as the fourth floor of the jail, which had the be removed. In its 216-year history, about 10,000 prisoners have died in the jail from execution, injury, or illness. It was said that the jail was meant to house 130 inmates, but it often held 300 people or more. After its doors have been shut in 1939, the jail was left empty until the American College of the Building Arts bought the old jail in 2000, but it is still off-limits to the public except for ghost tours. To many citizens in the city of Charleston, it is rumored that the jail is haunted and some Charleston tour companies have access to the jail for ghost tours.
Backstory and Context
Other prisoners included pirates, abolitionists, Union and Confederate soldiers, thieves, murderers, and others were imprisoned in the jail. A pirate named Jacque Alexander Tardy, also known as Tardy the Pirate, had an interest in poison and had a penchant of poisoning those who he had problems with. Another prisoner named Denmark Vesey, a freed slave who started a slave rebellion, was tried and hanged along with 35 other blacks. During the Civil War, Union soldiers from the 54th Massachusetts Regiment were held as prisoners of war. The movie Glory is based on the story of the regiment.
In 1911, a murderer named Daniel Duncan was the last prisoner to be hanged by the gallows until they were later dismantled. In the 1930s, the jail was in its decline and the city of Charleston wanted to build new low income apartment buildings across from the jail. After its decommission in 1939, the jail was bought by the Housing Authority of Charleston, but was left abandoned until it was bought by the American College of the Building Arts in 2000.
Old Charleston Jail - Charleston, South Carolina. SC Picture Project. . . https://www.scpictureproject.org/charleston-county/old-city-jail.html.
Student, Diane. History Goes Bump in the Night. July 09, 2015. . http://historygoesbump.blogspot.com/2015/07/hgb-podcast-ep-55-old-charleston-jail.html.
Old Charleston City Jail. Atlas Obscura. . . https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/old-charleston-city-jail.