Excerpt 11 – The Battery Carriage House

The following is one of many entries from the Phantoms Fill The Southern Skies book. I am producing it here from the original manuscript file for visitors to sample and see if they would be interested in the full text available on Amazon.

Please respect the copyright owners – Jeff Lawhead, J.S. Lawhead and 23 House Publishing – and do not reprint or reproduce any portion of this text on any monetized formats and without permission. Reproduction for hobbyist or academic interest (as well as “fair use”) is ok as long as sources are explicitly cited. Contact me at Meteo.Xavier@gmail.com for any permission inquiries regarding this or any other excerpt.

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Haunted hotels are a dime a dozen here in the South. Anywhere from a secluded bed and breakfast to the Best Western down the street may have something there, depending on the veracity of local lore, but few accommodations in our corner of the country are said to be haunted with pirate ghosts and departed gentlemen. The Battery Carriage House Inn of Charleston, South Carolina is one of those very few.

If legends are to be believed, Charleston is already stuffed to the gills with spirits wandering freely throughout the city, so it takes more than a little bit of notoriety for a building to win the title of “Charleston’s Most Haunted Inn” year after year. Many first-hand accounts have come out of the Battery Carriage House and continue to do so as the hotel proudly remains in business to this day. They even list the rooms reported to be haunted on their own website.

Well before all that had been established folklore in Charleston, the Battery Carriage House was property that had been purchased in 1843 by wealthy commercial agent Samuel N. Stevens for a sum of $4,500. He apparently lived in the building and renovated it until 1859 when he sold it to John Blacklock, who soon abandoned the house once the Civil War began advancing down on South Carolina. He still owned the house and sold it in 1870 to Colonel Richard Lathers of the Union, who went on to renovate it further after its damage during the war. Despite his efforts to fit in and use his new property to bring peace between the North and South by inviting leaders from both sides to break bread with each other, Lathers was not well liked in Charleston, and it soon found yet another new owner with phosphate mining businessman Andrew Simonds. His descendant, Drayton Hastie, now owns the property and, according to the history of the property as written on the website, it seems to have had a reasonably happy history with no murders or unusually tragic deaths occurring inside the hotel.

So what exactly makes this the most haunted inn in Charleston?

The answer to that seems to be as puzzling to the staff as it would be to anyone else. It is said that many small abnormalities take place all throughout the property – window shutters opening and closing by themselves, glowing lights, footsteps, being watched by those that can’t be watched back… standard features of a hotel haunting that do not seem to have easily identifiable sources.

Then there are three hotel rooms that are said to have concentrated activities, as reported, again, by the hotel itself. Room #3 seems to have once been either a portal or a meeting site for many random spirits to gather in, as one couple found out. At an undisclosed time, a man and his wife were sleeping in the room when the man’s cell phone started blinking and making noise the first night they were staying. Stirring from their sleep, they remembered the phone had been turned off and they were not able to get a phone signal in the room when it was on. Soon after that, something started illuminating from the bathroom while the faucet began to release water on its own, and the night ended with the both of them watching shapes and energies float in and around the room presumably until morning or until they fell asleep. On the second night (yes, they were brave enough to stay a second night), the activity started up again with the glowing form appearing in the sitting room and the other shapes and energies joining it. Again, the brave couple simply stuck it out through the night. Some time later, by some wild stroke of luck, they ran into another guest at the hotel, named Susan, who was clairvoyant and offered to help them restore some order in their room. Susan went with them to Room #3 and found there really was an enormous spiritual presence there. She commanded the spirits to leave and the couple reportedly had a much more peaceful night. This account ends on that note and it appears that that room is no longer haunted, but whatever the entities were, or why a medium with that kind of power would only exorcise one room are different mysteries altogether.

I would suppose one reason for that is that a more famous haunt of the hotel is known affectionately as the “Gentleman Ghost” of Room #10. He is not a threatening spirit in the least, though his general activity may be quite scary all the same to the women who stay there. It is said the Gentleman Ghost has a habit of wanting to crawl into bed with any woman who sleeps alone in Room #10, and if the woman protests or screams (who wouldn’t?) the entity will simply exit the bed, go back to his business through an entertainment unit that used to be the original door to the room, and not bother the lady any further. I’m not sure how this ghost qualifies as a gentleman for that habit, nor was I able to find out what happens if someone does share the bed with him, but he seems to carry a reasonably pleasant presence all the same and is even said to smell like fresh soap (somehow).

But the entity haunting Room #8 is no hygienic cavalier, he’s a headless torso wearing clothes from centuries past that appears on the bedside to any guest unfortunate enough to wake up and see him. It is said that this ghost has a menacing personality, rasping and growling at the living without the need of his head, and can even be touched. One man, who stayed in the room in 1993, woke up to find the terrifying shade in front of him on the bedside, reached out to touch the figure in front of him and felt the fabric of his overcoat (described to be something like a coarse burlap). The man screamed when the headless torso started growling, but before the entity could do anything harmful, it apparently just vanished before the guest’s eyes; leaving him thoroughly shaken by the disturbance and no longer skeptical of the supernatural.

There are two ideas as to who the headless man could be – one is that he was a Civil War soldier who lost everything above his neck in a munitions accident, and the other is that he might be the pirate ghost of Stede Bonnet, “The Gentleman Pirate”, from the early 18th century who was captured by Colonel William Rhett and eventually executed for his crimes. Stede is said to haunt several places around Charleston already after his appeals for a pardon failed to generate anything but a hanging for piracy. Apart from the ghost having old clothes, though, there doesn’t seem to be any way to properly guess his true identity.

Complicating matters further is a second account reported on the hotel’s website – another couple was staying in the room when the wife was woken up by the sounds of the window shutters moving on their own. Suddenly, a shadow moved over the shutters and she went into the bathroom to turn the light on, presumably so she could see what it was that just moved through their room. Later, the husband got up and found there was a frosty-looking face in the mirror that soon disappeared. Whether or not this was a different entity or a strange manifestation of the headless man’s identity is just as inexplicable as everything else going on at the Battery Carriage House, but now we start to see how the hotel keeps its title.

One has to wonder if there is more to the history of the inn than the official public version wants to share. The Gentleman Ghost, for example, is said to be the spirit of a college student who jumped off the roof of the building to his death, yet the same management that openly admits to the hotel being haunted does not mention this in their account of the building’s history (for obvious good reasons). It is rather unusual that the most haunted inn in Charleston would be clean of the human calamity that typically inducts spirits into the physical world in the first place.

Then again, if their afterlife is as constantly depressing as the entities we experience sometimes make it out to be, maybe ghosts just need a vacation sometimes like we do.

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Images used in this post do not belong to me or 23 House and are not part of the original manuscript. They were pulled from Google Images or Snappy Goat and only serve as graphical decoration. They are not being used for any monetizing purposes whatsoever.

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