Arts & Culture, Discovery

Charleston’s Spooky Side

Halloween is approaching frighteningly fast. That means it is time for pumpkin carving, costume parties, candy corn and of course, getting spooked! Charleston is one of the oldest cities in the United States and has been named one of the top ten most haunted so it is the perfect place to get into the Halloween spirit. In this blog post, you will learn about some of the spookiest sites in Charleston. Stop by on your next visit to Charleston…if you dare.

Old City Jail
Located at 21 Magazine Street is the Old City Jail, arguably Charleston’s most haunted location. It was operational from 1802 to 1939 and was featured in an episode of the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures”. Denmark Vesey, famous for leading a slave rebellion, and 19th-century pirates were jailed here before being hanged. The most intriguing tale regarding the Old City Jail involves Lavinia Fisher, the first female serial killer in the United States. She and her husband, John Fisher, operated a hotel called the Six Mile Wayfarer House. After many male travelers were discovered missing after last being seen at the hotel, it was discovered that Lavinia and her husband were robbing and murdering their guests. The couple was sentenced to hang on the gallows behind the Charleston Jail. Before being hanged, John prayed that his soul be saved while Lavinia was anything but repentant. Lavinia requested to wear her wedding dress and yelled “If you have a message you want to send to hell, give it to me – I’ll carry it” before jumping off the scaffold herself. Today, the Old City Jail is an official “Save America’s Treasures” project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the White House Millennium Council.

Provost Dungeon
The Provost Dungeon is located at 122 East Bay Street beneath the Old Exchange Building which was used as a customs house and post office. Soon after taking control of Charleston in 1780, the British started housing local criminals and insubordinate soldiers beneath the Exchange Building. Pirates and deserters were also housed in the “dungeon”. Some people were only held here for a short time before being transferred to other jails or prison ships but others remained until their death. Today, costumed guides lead you through a piece of history that tells the story of what it once was like to be condemned and confined in terrible conditions.

U.S.S. Yorktown
Now decommissioned and docked at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, the aircraft carrier known as the U.S.S. Yorktown was active during WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam. Over the years, there have been a number of reports of unexplainable noise, sightings and activities from visitors, employees and area law enforcement officers. The spirits of those who lost their lives while aboard the ship seem to still be on active duty. The U.S.S. Yorktown was featured on the Syfy Channel’s “Ghost Hunters.” Their findings include ghostly figures caught by thermal imaging, unexplained footsteps and voices. The U.S.S. Yorktown is now offering guided ghost tours that detail these findings as well as other accounts.

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Arts & Culture, Discovery, Featured

Spring Blooms in Charleston

When the sun begins to cast warm rays on the city’s historic buildings and backyard gardens blossom vibrant splashes of color, you know spring is finally here. Charleston is known for its quiet and charming secret gardens, Palmetto trees and local flowers sprinkled throughout the city. While the Holy City has a long list of reasons for travelers to explore, spring brings a variety of floral delights; the most breathtaking regional flowers including Azaleas, Wisteria, Tea Olive, Magnolia Trees and Camellias.
Wherever you turn in Charleston, you will surely see Azaleas blooming in hues of pronounced pinks, brilliant reds and warm purples, adding sweet, rich pigment to secret gardens and public parks. Azaleas, also called “the royalty of the garden,” are from the rhododendron family and one of the most sought-after shrubs locally, producing brilliant full color.
While its arrival is shortlived, Wisteria, a wispy, willowing vine that climbs and wraps around historic stone buildings and arching iron gates, welcomes visitors with it’s pretty purple color and slightly sweet scent. The curious vines of a wisteria can reach as high as 65 feet above the ground and spread out 32 feet wide.
The fragrant Tea Olive’s dark glossy, green leaves and dense foliage can be discovered all throughout Charleston in the form of well-manicured hedges providing shade and privacy. These sweet shrubs bloom tiny but amazingly fragrant, creamy white flowers which give gardens a crisp and fresh aesthetic.
Jasmine, an evergreen that climbs walls, posts, arbors and more, signals the start of warmer weather ahead. It’s rich, intoxicating scent envelopes the city each spring, a true favorite of locals and visitors alike.
You can also find beautifully strong and tall Saucer Magnolia Trees blooming light pink flowers. Part of the Magnolia family, these can grow as tall as 80 feet at full maturity. Often selected for their joyful robust tulip-looking blooms, the tree also provides cool shade for Charlestonians on warm spring days.
Camellias, another Southern favorite, come in many different shapes and sizes, yielding hues of red with colors ranging from stark white to rich pink ombré. These gorgeous trees, growing up to 65 feet tall, can be seen at Middleton Place, which is home to the oldest Camellias in North America. Charleston Place is currently offering an exclusive, behind-the-scenes experience at Middleton Place, home of the oldest formal gardens in America.

Floral insights were provided by Bloom at Charleston Place. Utilizing local product as much as possible, Bloom provides stunning floral arrangements for weddings and events, creating some of the most breathtaking arrangements inspired by the city of Charleston itself.

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Arts & Culture, Discovery, Featured, Sip & Savor

Staff Picks: Why We Love Living in Charleston

As you meander throughout the Holy City, each turn promises to be an awe-inspiring discovery. Whether it’s our historic homes, gardens and antebellum charm or our glistening waterways and easy way of living, there is something to be loved by every local and visitor. And, who could forget our show-stopping culinary scene that captures the heart of even the most refined foodies? Consistently named the No. 1 City in the United States and Canada by the readers of Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler year after year, read on to discover why our staff adores the place they call home. “I love Charleston for its geographic beauty; imagine 12 months of something in bloom, and a constant breeze carrying those scents across the peninsula. Also, anywhere you turn you’re greeted by water whether it’s a beach, river, estuary, or marshland. And if Charleston’s beauty isn’t special enough, the people who live here genuinely envelope and exude a gentle sweetness that is Southern hospitality.”-Shelley, Operations Manager at The Spa at Charleston Place “Food and history, hands down. Our restaurant scene is unlike anywhere else in the US—we have some of the best restaurants in America right at our fingertips, and our Lowcountry cuisine is as rich in flavor as it is in tradition. You can’t get that anywhere else. In addition, we have 350 years of history right in our very own backyard. I love visiting iconic sites and landmarks, plantations, and more.”-Steven, Executive Chef at The Palmetto Cafe “My two favorite seasons in Charleston are the spring and fall. The moderate temperatures, beautiful blooming flowers, and exciting festivals make it impossible to stay indoors. Also, I welcome the slower pace of the South, where it encourages one to take time to enjoy life rather than rush through each day.”-Catherine, Digital Marketing Manager “We live in the perfect size town where it’s big enough to take part in different events and festivals around town, but small enough to feel like you’re a part of a family and can support local businesses. One of my favorite things to do on the weekends is to visit our local farmers market—they always have an abundance of South Carolina-sourced produce and handcrafted goods from local artisans.” Megan, Charleston Place Event Manager Our culture and history, mouthwatering cuisine, preserved traditions, beautiful blooms and beaches are just a few of the many reasons why our city is beloved by so many. This year, we invite you to experience the Holy City for yourself. Located at the very heart of downtown Charleston, in the historic district and within walking distance of all the major attractions, Charleston Place, A Belmond Hotel is the perfect base for your adventure.
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