Called out at the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon

Visiting this giant piece of Charleston’s history is a must-do for any local as well as any travelers coming through Charleston. I’ve been through the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon on several tours, learning about the history throughout the building and piecing the clues together for hauntings around the city. However, going back to 1771 when the building was constructed, allows any visitor to see the connection Charleston had to our great nation.

The History

Constructed in 1771, the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon has been used as several different operations including a mercantile exchange, a post office, and military headquarters to name a few. These different operations show the exchange of hands this building has undergone since the birth of this Georgian-Palladian structure.

Another fascinating piece to this building is that you can see a sliver of the original wall of Charles Town through the Provost Dungeon.

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The original wall of Charles Town. Photo by Nicholas McGirr

The dungeon was said to have housed criminals of all sorts; men, women, pirates, and tea. Yes, I said tea, because, during the Charleston Tea Party, this is where the tea was held to keep it away from the British hidden behind a wall that no longer exists.

The Old Exchange is also one of the four locations where the Declaration of Independence was ratified, an immense part of our American and Charlestonian history. The rooms above the dungeon glorify this moment with the artifacts and staff dressed in period costumes.

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Know that through this article, I am not even touching the surface of the history of this building. I am not claiming to be an expert by any means and I encourage you history buffs to put this building on your bucket list to enjoy for yourselves. For this article, I am focused on basic history to explore any proclaimed paranormal activity.

The Paranormal Claims

There are plenty of paranormal claims to the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon including guests getting tugged, pushed or clothing pulled. Others claim that the period costumes of the staff make it confusing for the spotting of spirits because they, too, are in period dressings of their own time. Some staff claim that “staff members” are seen walking into walls from time to time.

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Photo by Nicholas McGirr

In February of 2019, a paranormal investigation was led by Grant Wilson from “Ghost Hunters”, Chad Lindbert from “Ghost Stalkers” and Carol Cleveland from YouTube’s “Haunt ME”. I could not find the evidence from this ghost hunt, but tickets ran about $185 for a meet and greet with the celebrities and then a 30-minute ghost hunt afterward.

What I will say is that the venue for this ticketed event usually comes with some merit of the legitimacy of the alleged haunted location and I trust that the pros leading the investigation came up with more than substantial evidence.

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Stairs from the original Post Office. Currently, the lead to overtopping the exposed wall of Charles Town.

My Visit

Once paying for my ticket for the dungeon tour, I immediately head downstairs where my tour guide is about to begin. I already had my spirit box app running as well as my EVP digital recorder. The EMF detector was tucked away in a side pocket of my satchel so I could easily tell if any spikes would occur during my tour.

I will say that once I hit the stairs to the dungeon, the EMF detector was active throughout my entire tour of the dungeon. The erratic lights drew so much attention to other guests of the tour that I had to turn it to face me. The lights were not patterned as I was originally suspecting. With all of the hype of paranormal activity around this building, I was honestly expecting it to be rigged, hence why I took a daytime tour with the normal historian tourists.

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Photo by Nicholas McGirr

I reviewed the spirit box app list of words after my tour and was surprised by a number of words. For those of you that have taken one of my “Stories in the Cemetery” ghost hunting experiences, you know that I find that 60-75% of the words provided are bullshit. With this list from the Provost Dungeon, not so much.

Words and phrases like “commit”, “cruel”, “he is guilty”, “violation” were all common themes throughout the word list. Check out the full word list in the picture slides below.

The words “cruel” and “violation” came through right around the time my tour guide was describing the conditions of the dungeon. Women were kept with the men without privacy, rat infestations and of course water coming over the top of the bricks from 1702. All these conditions were in fact “cruel” and were likely a “violation” of standards for prisoners.

The word that stood out to me most was my own name about 16 minutes into the tour. Just the night before, I told one of my ghost hunting guests that I would visit the Old Exchange and he texted me later that day asking how my investigation went. I showed him the list and his reply brought clarity to my work here in Charleston. He said, “They know you by name?!” Ironically, they do. I was called out just 16 minutes of my entering the building and beginning my tour of the dungeon. I have never seen any variation of my name (Nick, Nicky, Nicholas) ever brought through the spirit box app previously.

Conclusion

Upon listening to the audio from the tour, I could only find one instance where I may have heard something paranormal, but the evidence is insubstantial at this point and not worth posting until I have it analyzed. Other than that, I am pleased with the erraticism of the EMF detector (which stopped after I left the building) and the array of words I received through the spirit box app.

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I have explored the city of Charleston with my EMF detector looking for new locations to take my guests. With each passing of the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, the EMF detector usually signals for me to look further. Sometimes it’s just a blip, other times it’s an erratic display of lights screaming to be heard. I encourage you to visit the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, find an EMF app (yes, they work, just not as sensitive) and see for yourself who might be lurking in the basement of this extremely creepy structure that holds onto so much history of our country.

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Stories in the Cemetery Tours

Whether you’re a local or someone on vacation, you can take an Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience tour with me through downtown Charleston. We’ll visit many haunted locations using real ghost hunting equipment and possibly discover new activity! What will you discover on your tour?

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Inside the Julia Legare Tomb

To listen to the accompanying podcast episode visit:  Podcast episode

Believe it or not, most of the hauntings I investigate are not in an actual cemetery. But it’s always fun to tell stories in a cemetery, nonetheless. Such is the case of Julia Legare’s tomb in Edisto Island.

With so many versions of this story, it’s hard to determine if any of them are true, but the myth piqued my curiosity enough to take the short trip from Charleston. The pictures I took were gorgeous but they don’t really do the cemetery of the Presbyterian Church any justice. You’ll just have to visit Edisto’s graveyard for yourself.

The Myth

The story is simple and leaves many holes in the plot. Julia (Seabrook) Legare was buried in the tomb of her husband’s family after being pronounced dead from Diptheria. After moving the marble door to the tomb to inter another family member, it is said that the remains of Julia’s body were found near the door with scratches on the inside of the door and the tomb.

I’m not going to debunk all the holes in the myth here for storytelling’s sake, but I will point out a few things worth noting.

There is currently no door to the tomb, so all are free to walk inside and for some of us, it’s a mere curiosity of what the inside of a tomb feels like, smells like and looks like. It’s creepy to say the least, but a peaceful creepy, in case you were wondering.

The door was removed after finding it open on more than one occasion and the legend says it’s Julia pushing it open so she doesn’t feel trapped any longer. I also found websites that claim the marble door is on the ground near the tomb. I can say, as of this writing, that the door was nowhere to be found when I visited.

Julia Legare
Miniature portrait of Julia Legare

I also wanted to note that with each version of the story I was told and what I read, Julia’s age always seems to be a bit off. Some stories claim her to be a child, others at 22 or 23. It makes for a much creepier tale if it is one of a child being locked into a tomb versus a grown woman. Grapevine effect at it’s finest here, folks.

I want to point out the obvious as well; the door. It is said to be made of marble. Even though I can’t verify this because the door is absent nor is it lying nearby, I find a larger than life portion of the story that says that Julia’s nail marks/tracks were found in a marble door. Keep in mind, I’m not ruling out that Julia’s death confirmation was false and she truly was buried alive. What I am debunking is the part of the story that says human nails of a weakened sick person could penetrate marble.

If you are curious about all the other debunkings of Julia’s story and family history, I urge you to check out J’aime Rubio’s article “Stories of the Forgotten: The true legend of Julia Legare – Fact vs. Fiction”. This is an in-depth look into Rubio’s research at debunking the myth. I, as a storyteller and paranormal investigator simply sought paranormal activity of one of the great myths of the Charleston area. I am not here to fully debunk the family’s history nor to expose any secrets the family may want to have kept.

The Grounds

As I said earlier, the cemetery and location of Julia Legare’s tomb are beautiful and peaceful. The pictures below show you the amazing craftsmanship of tombstones and memorials that seems like a lost art in today’s burials.

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The gates to family plats were also of note in the cemetery. Though aged, I always stop to appreciate the time it took to craft and mangle metals to become a well-built adornment.

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The church sits slightly off the road and has a welcoming appearance as well. When roaming in our islands of Charleston, you can always get a sense of the lifestyles that once were by visiting some churches and how you feel when you’re on the grounds. The welcoming feeling here says that Edisto Island is a place for family and all are welcome to come worship here.

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Presbyterian Church, Edisto Island. Photo by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.
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Presbyterian Church, Edisto Island. Photo by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.

Inside the Tomb

Another visitor the tomb asked if I was alright with going inside the tomb itself. I chuckled as April told them not to worry. “This is what he does,”, she said.

Inside the tomb was not as creepy or spooky as you would think. Of course, dealing with death is never an easy thing, but being inside the walls of where remains lie was interesting. I was enthralled at the structured and immediately began pulling out my equipment to talk to whatever spirit that wanted to talk back.

I did receive completely random EMF (electro-magnetic field) spikes and wasn’t able to recreate any of them. They weren’t strong spikes, but just enough for someone to let me know they knew I was there. With my spirit box app running as well, the only term/phrase that was of note was when I left the tomb to explore more of the cemetery. The spirit box told me to “Come Back”.

Normally a tomb would have burials in the walls of the structure and I began to question how and where Julia and her family members were inside the tomb. I happened to notice that the cracked plate on the floor of the tomb might have been (and this is my own speculation) where a sarcophagus was kept.

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This would explain the crack on the floor with the weight of a crypt, and what looks like a cement pillow could have been a slight step in order to move the lid to the crypt. Again, just my speculation.

Since the walls are not deep enough to hold bodies, it could also be said that the family is buried below the cement slab which would also debunk the story of Julia being trapped alive and the marble door having fingernail scratches. If she was buried under the slab, then the slab would have to be moved in order to add a family member and that’s where her body would still be, only slightly moved or with evidence to show she tried to get out. Again, my mind goes to a weakened woman with diptheria and how she would have found the strength to do anything let alone come out of a cemented slab once inside a crypt in the ground.

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J.B. Legare tomb in Edisto Island. Photo by Nicholas McGirr. Cannot be used without permission.

Also inside are three headstones along the back wall which leads me to believe that these three family members are also buried with Julia below the cement slab.

I found coins of patronage to Julia’s story along the ledge of the headstones and on the stepping stone.

Summary

As to not ruin a great ghost tale of Charleston and to keep the memory of Julia Legare alive, I will not further debunk any more of this ghost story. I will say that during my time at the Presbyterian Church cemetery and graveyard, I had paranormal activity from the tomb and only inside the tomb. Whether or not it was Julia herself, I cannot be certain. With the design of the tomb and no electrical influences to my EMF detector, I can honestly say that I would like to visit again with a more thorough investigation using my grid pen, thermal camera, and live spirit box. A more private investigation might bring about more evidence of paranormal activity in this absolutely gorgeous cemetery.

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If you’d like to support this blog/podcast, you can always

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Stories in the Cemetery Tours

Whether you’re a local or someone on vacation, you can take an Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience tour with me through downtown Charleston. We’ll visit many haunted locations (including the Wagener Building) using real ghost hunting equipment and possibly discover new activity! What will you discover on your tour?

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Works mentioned in this post:

Julia Legare Picture: https://digitalcollections.frick.org/digico/#/

Article from J’aime Rubio: https://jaimerubiowriter.blogspot.com/2018/03/the-true-legend-of-julia-legare-fact-vs.html

Stories at the Sorrel-Weed House

To listen to the accompanying podcast episode: Click Here!

The great thing about visiting Savannah, Georgia is that the city seems to welcome its own paranormal history and evidence. Such is the case with the Sorrel-Weed House. It is said to be one of the most haunted locations in Savannah. April, Byron and I took the haunted tour with a great guide by the name of Graham.

The History

From the feature picture of the historical marker, you can read that the house was built in 1840 and was influenced by the French background of the original owner, Francis Sorrel. The story of his wife, Matilda and his slave mistress, Molly is what makes this location so interesting.

Molly, who had her own bedroom in the carriage house, was the mistress of Francis. After Francis’s wife was unable to find him one night, Matilda decided to ask the slaves if any of them had seen her husband. What she found was her husband in Molly’s private bedroom above the carriage house. Matilda ran away from the carriage house and into the main house. From the second-story balcony, Matilda argued with Francis while he was standing in the courtyard. Matilda fell to her death from that balcony.

It is also alleged that Molly, through all the turmoil of being discovered with Francis, that she hung herself in her bedroom. However, in today’s world and looking at the forensic evidence, a 4’11” woman was unable to reach the 8′ beams in her bedroom where she was found, nor did she have tall enough furniture to aid in her suicide. What logic also tells us about this death, is that hanging wasn’t necessarily a form of suicide in the mid-1800s, but more a way of the white man’s homicide as a form of punishment sentence. To this day, Molly’s death remains a mystery.

Multiple Haunted Rooms

Throughout the main home and carriage house, Graham was able to tell us the history of each room and some of the paranormal activity in each room. Although, after listening to the recording of the tour, I couldn’t truly put my finger on all the evidence to tie it together. Each room also had photographic or audible evidence that Graham presented.

There is a gathering room in the main house that has a giant mirror over a fireplace. Our guide was able to show us a photo of apparitions in the reflection of the mirror.

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Although we couldn’t capture any apparitions in the reflection, it’s difficult not to stare into this stunning mirror. Photo by April McGirr

The room was also decorated with ornate furniture that could’ve probably told more stories of the happenings during the prime of this gorgeous home.

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An old desk urging us to look for clues to the mystery of the deaths in the home. Photo by April McGirr

The basement we found most interesting. According to Graham, the home was bought in the 1950s and turned into an old dress shop. The shop changed out the old black slate tiles in the basement and cemented over them, ruining the originality of the home. However, when repurchased for restoration, the slate was too far ruined to be restored. Instead, the restoration turned into digging up the flooring to be renewed and artifacts from the Revolutionary War were found: buttons, red cloth, and a French Cannonball. Interestingly enough along with these artifacts, the bone capacity of 12 bodies was also found. Instead of spending restoration funds to further research the bones, the bones were returned into the earth. So, in the event, you ever visit this home, know that you are walking over the remains of human skeletons while in the basement.

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An old wheelchair found in the basement of the Sorrel-Weed House. Photo by April McGirr

There was an eerie feeling when walking into the “laundry room”. A heavy feeling came over me as I passed through the door and my depth perception began to waver. I don’t normally discuss my personal emotions and feelings from my investigations, but Graham told us later in the Carriage House that these types of feelings were normal while in the Carriage House. Odd that I felt them so much earlier in the tour.

There are claims of a “Shadow Man” in the basement as well. The staff at the Sorrel-Weed House have even given him his own breezeway since his tall shadow is often seen there. In the breezeway is one creepy old chair.

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Shadow Man’s chair. Photo by April McGirr

Other claims in the basement are that of clothes being tugged, jewelry and metals being pulled and purses being unbuckled. None of these things happened on our tour, at least no one confessed, but we found one interesting anomaly that we caught on camera. When we started looking at it again, another tourist said she captured three anomalies coming together in one of the other segments of the basement.

At first glance, it looks like the anomaly is on the camera lens, but it begins to move quicker than the motion of the camera towards the end.

A friend of ours, also showed me similar footage from his visit to the Sorrel-Weed house basement, proving the validity of this video.

I will also mention that Byron (my dappled dachshund) was also with us on this tour. He could not take his gaze off the fireplace area while Graham was speaking and telling us the history. The video above was taken after realizing that Byron was a bit uncomfortable with the fireplace.

The Carriage House

The history portion of this location is mentioned above and I’ll say again that Graham warned us that during most of his tours, at least one guest becomes nauseated, disoriented or hears footsteps while in the Carriage House. During our tour of Molly’s bedroom and the Carriage House, I did not feel any of these emotions and there were no footsteps being heard over the audio.

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Molly’s private bedroom in the Carriage House. Photo by April McGirr

However, the TAPS team of Ghost Hunters was able to capture a very distinctive yelling that lasted for several seconds. In the evidence of EVP’s (electronic voice phenomenon), it is rare that an audible piece of evidence is broken up into clear audio of screaming over a time span of a second or two. The TAPS team captured this audio without anyone in the Carriage or nearby to manipulate a different sound. Your guide will be proud to honor this audio evidence while on your tour.

As I said earlier, Savannah welcomes its haunted history. Graham later took us on a walking tour throughout the city and was able to tell us more of the haunted history. The Sorrel-Weed House welcomes paranormal groups to investigate and Graham even offered up a direct email in the event any guest captures photographic or audio evidence while on the tour.

While looking for more evidence on the Sorrel-Weed House, I discovered this video on YouTube: (pay close attention around the 2-minute mark)

Could this video be actual evidence of Matilda walking around? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this video. Feel free to leave comments below.

In future visits to Savannah, GA, I’m hoping to book a lockdown night in the Sorrel-Weed House and use my own equipment for a full investigation. There seems to be enough evidence here to last a lifetime and well, let’s face it, the Sorrel-Weed House staff will actually appreciate what paranormal investigators can bring to light.

If you’d like to support this blog/podcast, you can always

Buy Me A Coffee

Stories in the Cemetery Tours

Whether you’re a local or someone on vacation, you can take an Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience tour with me through downtown Charleston. Even though we won’t trek to Savannah, GA, we’ll visit many haunted locations using real ghost hunting equipment and possibly discover new activity! What will you discover on your tour?

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Links to references used for this post:

All photos were taken by April McGirr and cannot be used without permission.

Paranormal