We were looking to do a scary nighttime tour in Charleston one day, so we called Bulldog Tours for some input. Their suggestion was the Haunted Jail Tour. We decided upon the 10 pm tour and were given directions on how to get there. The Old City Jail housed some of Charleston's most infamous criminals, 19th century pirates, and Civil War prisoners.
The weather was perfect and the atmosphere was just right with a slight bit of a haze in the air, no wind blowing, and a dark sky. We took some pictures of the outside of the Old City Jail while waiting for the tour to begin. The weather-worn brick and age-stressed structure crumbling in random places set the mood for the stories to come.
The tour began outside centered around the buildings history and executions by hanging. We entered the building through an old creaky and rusty iron door. The guide talked about the high death rate among the inmates because of the living conditions, disease, and sweltering summer heat. A story about one of the heavy doors flying off its hinges and almost hitting a guide was a bit of a stretch, according to my skeptical estimation.
At one point, the lights were turned off while the guide told the story about one of its only female inmates. You will have to do the tour to the find out the moral and climax of the story. The guide also pointed out the significance of the steps leading to the upper floor. Unfortunately, some areas we passed contained a few reminders of the present, such as ladders and paint cans from some current restoration, which somewhat diminished the eerie aspect of the jail.
It takes a good deal to scare me because I don't believe in ghosts, although the old House on Haunted Hill movie really frightened me. So, how would I answer the question as to whether it was truly scary? I will decline and leave it up to your judgment after you have taken the tour. It is one of the many historical tours offered in Charleston and is billed as one of the scariest.
The Old City Jail's imposing structure and aged condition makes for some good pictures, and if you free your imagination, you will be entertained. It is definitely not a tour to take little children on.
In conclusion, "If you have a message you want to send to hell, give it to me--I'll carry it."
Old City Jail is located at 21 Magazine St, Charleston, SC. Bulldog Tours is located at 40 North Market St, Charleston, SC or call 843-722-8687.