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SpookyCities blog

Highlighting America’s Haunted History

Alex Shaked
by Alex Shaked

October 27, 2021

7 minute read

All Hallows’ Eve is growing ever nearer and as the day when all things spooky come to play approaches, we are thinking about some American cities with a haunted past. Some of these old cities in the United States are rich with a history that lend themselves to ghost stories so whether or not you’re a believer in the paranormal, settle in next to a cozy fire (a real fireplace or the one on Netflix; ambiance is important), dim the lights, and read the stories of spots in these cities that go bump in the night.

 

Header: Savannah

It is widely accepted among paranormal enthusiasts that Savannah is the most haunted city in the U.S. From cemeteries to hotels and bars with dark history, there are plenty of destinations in the city that may make your spine tingle. Here is just a small sample:

1) The Marshall House is Savannah’s oldest hotel, having first opened their doors in 1851. The building has worn several hats since its inception and was only converted to a hotel in the 1990s. It had three stints as a hospital, once during the Civil War and two times in the 19th Century during Yellow Fever epidemics. Some guests have reported a cold feeling on their wrists, as if someone beyond the veil were taking their temperature.   

2) In 1821, Savannah’s first hotel opened, City Hotel. It had many famous guests in the 30 or so years it was a hotel, including the Marquis de Lafayette and naturalist James Audubon.

Since 1999, it has been the Moon River Brewing Company and is regarded as the most haunted spot in the city. Many guests report seeing the specter of a woman wearing a white dress at the top of the stairs in the restaurant. A poem about the brewery states, “The upper floors are so haunted that renovations are never complete.”

3) Burials at Colonial Park Cemetery began in 1750, making it Savannah’s oldest cemetery. There are more than nine thousand graves across the burial ground’s six acres. Tragedy in the city caused multiple expansions to the cemetery, namely the losses due to the Revolutionary War and multiple Yellow Fever epidemics. Legend states that during the Civil War, Union soldiers sheltered in vaults at the cemetery and defaced gravestones, leading to continued spiritual unrest.

Check out these haunts on our Spotlight on Savannah tour. 


Salem

In February 1692, Salem was rife with paranoia. Neighbor turned on neighbor, accusing each other of witchcraft. Men, women, and children took to the stand swearing innocence or pivoting the blame to another resident. Eventually, 20 people would go on to be convicted and executed for witchcraft and five more people died in jail. The Salem Witch Trials remain a major part of the city’s identity, with the nickname of Witch City to this day. Here are some locations in the city that boast hauntings:

1) Salem’s Old Town Hall dates back to the 1816, which makes it rather surprising that bar a couple of small fires, the building itself doesn’t have a history lending itself to hauntings. The spooky history comes from what lies beneath. In the 1800s, there was an active series of underground tunnels about 20 feet below the city streets. These tunnels hid seedy happenings from the wandering eyes above, legends say ranging from smuggling to murders. Some visitors in and around Town Hall claim to have experienced everything from flickering lights, fallen objects and shadowy figures, perhaps belonging to the shady characters of yesteryear.

2) In 1692, Judge Jonathan Corwin had multiple connections to the Salem Witch Trials. His own family got caught up in the hysteria, with one of his own children being rumored to be “afflicted” with witchcraft. Additionally, he served on courts and as a judge in the Witch Trials. His actions would lead to the deaths of 19 by hanging and five more in custody. The Witch House in Salem is the former home of Corwin and his family, and it’s the last home with a connection to the trial still standing. Some visitors claim to hear whispers of children and footsteps from the upper floor that they cannot quite explain.

3) Wicked Good Books is on Essex Street and took the place of Derby Square Bookstore in 2013. Wicked Good Books offers a much different book buying experience from its predecessor. Derby Square Bookstore had stacks of books, some as high as 10 feet, creating narrow corridors within the shop. It was difficult to navigate, and “the hunt” for a book was part of its charm. When Wicked Good Books came in and changed to a more typical business model, the randomly falling books became harder to explain. Until you consider, of course, that Wicked Good Books is just steps away from Old Town Hall; the two share the same underground tunnels and all the seedy history that lies within them.

Check out these haunts with a day trip to Salem our Spotlight on Boston tour.

 

Charleston

Charleston was founded in 1670 and has seen dark times due to natural disasters and war. It is considered one of the most haunted cities in the country. Many claim to experience the supernatural here, and the alleged spirits vary greatly. From the fallen soldiers of the Civil War to the ghost of a dog roaming the grounds of a Victorian home turned restaurant, there’s seemingly spooky stops all across Charleston:

1) It is claimed that Old Charleston Jail is the most haunted building in all of South Carolina. The jail housed many prisoners over 100 years, and over 13,000 executions took place on its grounds. From 1802 to 1939, its cells held the likes of pirates, Civil War criminals, and allegedly, the first female serial killer in the country’s history. Lavinia Fisher is rumored to have been a highway robber with her husband, John Fisher, who also ran a hotel. Lore says the hotel was a front where Lavinia poisoned men with tea to steal their belongings. Historians have questioned the validity of the murder charges, however. Nevertheless, Lavinia met the gallows wearing her wedding dress, and many claim to see the spirit of a woman wearing a white dress even now. 

2) Fort Sumter is a fort at sea, built on an island overlooking Charleston. It’s regarded as the place where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Multiple battles were held here, and the location was important to both sides of the war; it was captured by Confederate soldiers in 1861 after a nearly two-day battle and Union forces tried for years to reclaim it. The first casualty of the Civil War took place at Fort Sumter in an accident. During a salute to the flag after the Battle of Fort Sumter, a battle in which no one had been killed, a cannon misfired; the explosion killed Pvt. Daniel Hough of the 1st U.S. Artillery. Reports of people witnessing Hough’s spirit and smelling gunpowder came as early as the year of his death, 1861, and continue to this day.

3) Poogan’s Porch Restaurant has existed as a restaurant since 1976. Prior to that, it was a Victorian home. The hose was built in 1891 and remained in residential use for generations until its conversion to a restaurant. The last family who lived in the home fed a local stray dog on their porch and after they moved, the dog, Poogan, continued to visit for scraps. The restauranteurs obliged and the name Poogan’s Porch was born. Many visitors who dine outside claim to hear a bark and feel something brushing past their ankles that they can’t see.  

Visit some eerie spots in Charleston on our Southern Charm tour.

 

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