Old City Jail, Charleston

3.5
The Old Charleston Jail is a site in Charleston, South Carolina. It held many notorious criminals, among them Lavinia Fisher.
The Old City Jail is located on a four-acre parcel set aside for public use from Charleston's earliest settlement. The jail, which was operational from 1802 until 1939, housed Charleston's most infamous criminals, and, during the Civil War Federal prisoners of war. The Old Jail building was constructed in 1802 and served as the Charleston County Jail until 1939. In 1680, as the city of Charleston was being laid out, this location was designated for public use. In time a hospital, poor house, Workhouse for runaway slaves, and this Jail was built on the square. When the Jail was constructed in 1802 it consisted of four stories, topped with a two-story octagonal tower. Charleston architects Barbot & Seyle were responsible for 1855 alterations to the building, including a loo rear octagonal wing, expansions to the main building and the Romanesque Revival details. This octagonal wing replaced a fireproof wing with individual cells, designed by Robert Mills in 1822, five years earlier than his notable Fireproof Building. The 1886 earthquake badly damaged the tower and top story of the main building, and these were subsequently removed.
The Old Jail housed a great variety of inmates. John and Lavinia Fisher, and other members of their gang, convicted of robbery and murder in the Charleston Neck region were imprisoned here in 1819 to 1820. Some of the last 19th-century high-sea pirates were jailed here in 1822 while they awaited hanging. The Jail was active after the discovery of Denmark Vesey's planned slave revolt. Although the main trials were held in the Workhouse, some slaves were briefly held in both the Jail and the Poor House, and four white men convicted of supporting the 1822 plot were imprisoned here. Tradition holds that Vesey spent his last days in the tower before being hanged, although no extant document indicates this. Increased restrictions were placed on slaves and free blacks in Charleston as a result of the Vesey plot, and law required that all black seaman be kept here while they were in port. During the Civil War, Confederate and Federal prisoners of war were incarcerated here. It is one of more than 1400 historically significant buildings within the Charleston Old and Historic District.
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Old City Jail Reviews
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190 reviews
Google
4.1
TripAdvisor
  • We did a nighttime tour with Bulldog tours. Randy was our guide, and he was phenomenal. He is a true storyteller who knows how to set the mood. The jail itself was interesting, historically and archit...  more »
  • I like visiting my own neighboorhood or the city the old city jail is one of those historic sights that just keeps giving you all kinds of information. The tours by the staff are well organized and ve...  more »
Google
  • We loved the tour here! So much history lies between these walls. Our tour guide was very friendly and informative. We are looking forward to coming to another tour on our next visit to Charleston.
  • We learned a lot of the truth about But we didn't have any paranormal happen to us but we had a great time.

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