In a historic city that preserves remnants of the past, it seems natural that former inhabitants would still lurk about. In Charleston, you’ll find that spirits are just as much a part of the city as the living. Known as “Charleston’s most haunted inn,” Battery Carriage House Inn is reportedly home to several ghosts. Though my wife and I have not seen these ghosts, guests and employees alike have had odd encounters — many that are eerily similar. Some may attribute these occurrences to the peculiarities of an old house, but several otherwise skeptical guests have experienced these ghosts and are sure it was real.
Our first reports came in 1992, both about the “gentleman ghost” and the headless torso. Now tour guides often mention these Charleston ghost legends in their stories. The gentleman ghost could be a young man whose family owned this house earlier in the century. He was a sensitive and cultivated college student who, for no reason known to anyone, jumped off the roof and killed himself.
Another of our infamous ghosts of Charleston, the headless torso is likely a man from the Civil War era. The Battery was an active artillery installation during the siege of Charleston, and all the houses in this area were damaged and abandoned during the four-year bombardment. There is no evidence that the torso intends harm, although guests have naturally felt threatened. Guests have also experienced light energy and other strange occurrences, as you’ll read below.
A Ghostly Congregation
A married couple was staying at the inn when they were awoken in the early morning hours by noise and blinking from the man’s cell phone. The phone had been turned off and received no signal in the room, so this seemed very odd. The couple also saw what they described as a “giant firefly glow” — coming from the bathroom on the first night, and then from the sitting room on the second night. They were sure they weren’t dreaming, and they could see these different energy masses in varying shapes and sizes. The man said the shapes seemed to move about the room.
As for the cell phone, he said he checked it but saw that it was completely turned off. This happened several times throughout the first night, and whenever it did, the bathroom faucet would also begin dripping profusely. Then on the second night, it seemed as if several figures of different shapes and sizes were congregating in the sitting room.
During their stay, the couple met a clairvoyant from London named Susan who was also a guest at the inn. She came to the room and indicated that she felt a great energy presence there, and then she summoned the spirits to depart. After this, the couple reported that the last night was much more peaceful.
The Headless Torso
In August of 1993, I got a call from a man who had stayed at the inn a year ago and wanted to talk to me about it. He asked if anyone had ever experienced anything unusual at the inn. I said I didn’t understand. He explained that he was an engineer: a very practical person who didn’t believe in unusual things that couldn’t be explained, but he’d been very bothered by an experience he had at the inn. He said that on their walk back to the inn from dinner, he and his wife saw cats, which are supposedly drawn to the spirit world.
In the middle of the night, the man had the sensation he was being watched. Though he wasn’t sure if he was awake, the man said he could see the torso of a man with no face in front of him. He said the man was strong and barrel-chested and wearing several layers of clothing. He said he recalled reaching out and touching the coarse material of the apparition’s overcoat. The ghost’s raspy breathing became a kind of threatening moan when the guest touched his coat.
He then felt afraid and was worried the ghost might do him harm, so he tried to scream out and remembers waking up at that point. His heart was pounding and he was frightened, but there was no one else in the room.
He knew, despite never seeing hands, legs or even a face, that there was something in the room, though not an actual physical presence. Paul also said he had a sense that the man was not a nice sort of person, and he recalled the carriage operator telling him about how they used to publicly hang pirates from the trees in the battery. He said his sixth sense told him to be fearful and not trust this entity as benign.
On the night of August 17, Mrs. S stirred from her sleep between the hours of 2 and 3. Looking up to the door, she saw one of the interior shutters moving up and down. First it was the top shutter. After a few moments, the two bottom shutters started moving at the same time. Then the two top shutters. A shadow moved over just the top two sets without casting a shadow over the bottom two. Next, the bottom left shutter closed, then the bottom right, and then the top left, leaving only the top right open. After this, Mrs. S got out of bed and turned on the bathroom light so the room would not be completely dark if the last set was closed. She woke a few more times that night and the upper right set remained open. In the morning Mrs. S mentioned it to her husband and Mr. S had surprisingly seen something as well. Prior to the shutters moving, Mr. S had turned over in bed and looked into the mirror. To do this he had to sit up and he doesn't recall what prompted him. In the mirror he saw a “frosty” apparition of a human face. He could make out the eyes, nose and mouth, but could not tell the gender. After a few seconds, the face disappeared and Mr. S fell back asleep. Neither of them knew the inn was haunted before this.
The Gentleman Ghost
In celebration of our birthday, my twin sister DS and I decided to treat ourselves to an overnight stay at your well-known “Carriage House Inn” on the Battery in Charleston, South Carolina. The date was May 19, 1992.
The décor of the room was furnished in the lovely antique style furnishings of the 1800’s. D and I both love historic places so we were pleased with the atmosphere of the historic “Carriage House.” We were given room #10.
We retired for the night about 11pm. I placed one of the antique chairs in front of the door, telling D that if anyone tried to enter, that the chair would be a barrier. D fell asleep almost immediately. I was restless and couldn’t fall asleep. I was lying on the right side of the bed, facing the door. I noticed a wispy gray apparition appearing to be floating through the closed door, and through the chair, entering the room. The configuration was of a man with no features being visible. His height was about 5’ 8”. No special clothes were visible, just a gray wispy shape of a slightly built man. He moved in an upright gliding motion over to my side of the bed. He lay down in a 12 inch space beside me on the bed. He placed his right arm around my shoulders. I didn’t feel any pressure from his arm touching me. I wasn't frightened because he didn’t seem threatening.
I wanted to wake D to let her see what was happening. I called her name several times before she woke up. She asked me what was wrong. When I tried to answer her, the figure disappeared more suddenly than he had appeared. I didn’t say anything else to D, but relaxed and fell asleep and didn’t awake 'til 6 AM I then asked D if she had seen or heard anything in the night. She said she hadn’t. I related my story of the visitor during the night. She was disappointed she hadn’t seen him herself.
I wished I had remained quiet and not spoken, because I feel I frightened him away. I feel that possibly his home was being disturbed by the restoration and renovation of the main house. He was looking for a place to rest and thought we might share our bed for the night.
I would love to return someday and spend another night at the “Carriage House Inn” to see if my Gentleman Visitor” revisits me.
Very Truly Yours,
Gentleman Ghost or Other Experience …
Recently during Spoleto my parents and I had the pleasure of staying at your inn. I requested room 10 because I had heard about the Gentleman Ghost and also about the headless torso in room 8, so naturally I picked room 10.
I had a very strange experience the first night at the inn. Right from the start I had the feeling that I was being observed. Even while I was unpacking my bags I could almost swear someone was behind me. Anyway, as the night progressed I was feeling more and more unnerved. So I read some passages from my Bible, hoping that would calm me down. I picked the 23rd Psalm and I read it aloud about 10 times. I put particular emphasis where it says “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will feel [sic] no evil”. During the time I started reciting the psalm, the whole feeling of the room changed. It went from a really weird feeling to one of extreme negativity. I had to quit reading the Bible because the whole feeling of the room went from bad to worse. Needless to say, I even slept with my Bible, but I got very little sleep that first night. I sincerely thought that if I feel asleep all hell was going to break loose!
The next morning I was walking down the balcony to the stairs around 7:00 am and as I rounded the corner to the stairs, I distinctly heard heavy footsteps coming towards me on the stairs, and as I thought it might be another guest, I turned to say good morning but as I turned around the footsteps stopped, so I waited for about 4 seconds and then as I turned back towards the stairs and started down them, I distinctly saw someone come around the corner, and when I turned to greet them, there was no one there. Looking back I truly believe that something or someone followed me out of the room. But at the time I just shrugged it off as seeing my first ghost at your inn. Well, the second night went just fine. Room 10 and I had a silent pact, that everything would be fine as long as I didn’t start reciting my bible out loud.
I know from past experiences that ghosts use doors, hallways and stairways to go from the past to the future. Also they seem to be drawn to attics and they don’t like to be disturbed. I do have to ask you, was there ever a door to the main house where the TV console now sits? I believe there was one once. If so, then that is where the Gentleman Ghost comes through the wall.
I would love to stay at your inn again even in room 10 because now I know what not to do in the room. If I can be of service, please feel free to call---thanks again for an unbelievable experience. The Staff at the inn, especially N, K and B were very knowledgeable about the history of the inn and also of Charleston itself, and they deserve a pat on the back. I would highly recommend the inn to anyone wishing to stay at an elegant resort.
My family spent the evening of Wednesday July 6, 2005 at your inn. We had seen the television specials regarding the gentleman ghost who liked women, and so my daughter and I reserved room 10. When I made the reservations, the girl on the desk, I think Gena, who was wonderful and very helpful, told me about another ghost in room 8. We reserved that one for my husband.
Upon checking in, we took a video camera into room 10. I had hoped to video the gentleman ghost coming later in the night. My husband made a taunt that if there were any ghosts in the room there was no need to be scared of a camera.
Later in the evening when my daughter and I were prepared for bed, I set the camera in the window sill, opposite the front door to record the door and the bed. I turned the camera on and climbed into bed. We watched TV for a while then turned off the lights and went to bed. The camera had two hours of video tape. The only light was from the television. When we turned the television off, the only light in the room was the nightlight in the bathroom, which gave no light whatsoever to the bedroom.
We saw and heard nothing during the night, which was disappointing to my daughter and myself. I was reviewing the tape before we left, and I noticed blurring but I thought nothing of it. I packed the camera and drove home to Florida.
When we got home and unpacked before going to bed we rewound the tape and watched it from the beginning. Almost the moment I turned the camera on there is something going on. As you know a stationary camera will focus only when something passes between the camera lens and the subject being recorded. Perhaps it was the taunt of my husband, but something is continually in front of the camera lens, blurring the picture, for almost the entire 2 hour video. At one point the picture is so distorted you cannot tell that you are looking at two women in bed watching television.
When the lights are off and the room is dark, the bottom of the bed and the bed clothes seem to glow, then it gets dark and later the glowing happens again, several times. It also appears like several orbs are circling the room. Later there is tapping and it sounds like someone tapping directly on the microphone of the camera. Then if you listen carefully you can hear what appears to be faint labored breathing.
I am not disturbed by this; we wanted to see a ghost. We did not see exactly what we went for but I believe we have evidence of one on video.
Since these things have been covered on your inn, would you know of any organization that does paranormal research that could view and authenticate the tape? I appreciate your assistance. I will be happy to get a copy of the tape to you, as soon as I get one made.
Gentleman Ghost Sighting
“My husband and I recently came to Charleston in March to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. We chose to stay at the Battery Carriage House Inn for several reasons, one of which was the story of the headless torso in room 8. We were immediately taken with the charm of the inn and the surrounding grounds. We were booked into room 10.
After being at the inn for one night and being totally pampered by the experience, my husband went down to the front desk to ask some questions about local attractions. I remained in the room and was relaxing on the bed enjoying the cozy robe provided in the room. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a shadow going by the window so I turned to look. The shadow was clearly that of a man, slender in build and about 5’ 11” to 6 feet tall. The shadow passed in the room by the bed where I was lying and settled onto the closet door that adjoins the main house before fading into the door. I assumed it was my husband coming back to our room. I had also smelled the scent of a freshly bathed person (not a modern day after shave or cologne smell but a clean soap smell) as the shadow passed by me. Again, I assumed it was my husband getting ready to enter the room. After a few moments when he did not come into the room, I got up and went to the door to see if he was enjoying the view of the courtyard. He was still not there. I still did not give much thought to the occurrence but did feel it was somewhat odd.
When my husband did come back to the room I told him about the occurrence. He went back outside to see if indeed someone walking on the porch back to the room would create a shadow in the room. It did not. At this point we both began to wonder if something unique had happened to me. We went into town to do some touring. One of the stops we made was at the Old Exchange. While in the gift shop we picked up a book called The Ghosts of Charleston written by Edward B. Macy and Julian T. Buxton III. As we were looking through the book, we came upon the Gentleman Ghost of the Battery Carriage House Inn. I can tell you we both were speechless when we read of the account. I had chills all over me. I truly feel that I was visited by the gentleman ghost at the Battery Carriage House Inn. I feel honored to have experienced this occurrence.
We hope to return to your inn next year. We enjoyed the wine and cheese in the afternoon and the amazing breakfast served by your exceptionally courteous staff. Thank you so much for a wonderful weekend.
Dear Inn Keepers,
We want to thank you for a lovely night in Charleston. We stayed in room 8 on August 9th and wanted to first tell you how lovely and hospitable your staff was and how much we loved the atmosphere and gardens of your inn. As soon as we pulled up, we felt transformed back in time to a way of life that was slow to take in.
Also, we wanted to share our experience with the ghost. (I will write you a formal letter about this as well, with an incredible photo of the torso in the doorway of the room.)
My husband, B, could feel the ghost’s presence and was constantly being awakened by a feeling of someone hovering over him. He was the skeptic and I the believer. I took lots of photos and got quite a lot of reflective lights dancing around, as well as orbs (big for ghost hunters). I went outside after B fell asleep to take photos around the property and room and when I downloaded my pictures, I saw something in one taken from the courtyard looking up at the door to our room. It is an outline in light of a torso. You can see where the neck is and shoulders and body, even the body looks dimensional and shaded. It looked like what was explained to us as what has been seen. Just an upper man’s torso. Maybe it was condensation or a shadow, but there were other pictures taken and there was nothing around to make that shape. I will print out some copies and send them to you, as well as the orbs and lights flashing around the room. Some may be easily explained, but the torso outline is quite coincidental to what people have seen floating out the door. One other thing. About 2am, my husband was awoken, scared to death by a loud crackling sound that he described like a wooden chair being smashed against the wall, or even perhaps, the toilet seat, that would not stay up, being crashed down. He jumped up and woke me up and got up to look around, since the noise he said definitely came from in the room and not thunder. I am not sure if it rained that night.
These experiences, as well as soft sheets and bedding, delicious breakfast and good coffee in the gardens and a cool breeze to walk all over the water front and historical Charleston made for an event packed overnight excursion to your fair city. The staff was courteous and the AC was powerful. Thank you so much and please use this email letter and the letter and photos I send as you wish, but please keep me posted and involved. We will be back.
Very Truly Yours,
R and BF
To discover other Charleston ghost legends, please visit the links below.