There are over 450 licensed walking tour guides in Charleston and we chose to take two tours: a ghost tour and a historic tour. Usually Tripadvisor leads me in the right direction but, despite many rave reviews, the ghost tour with Tricia from the Ghostwalk was a disappointment for me.
Personally, I tuned out after she spoke about General Robert E. Lee haunting the Mills House Hotel (supposedly he’s been spotted running down the hallway). From what I’ve read about Lee, he was in Charleston for a short period in 1861. I’m guessing he would be haunting Gettysburg or Appomattox not the Mills House Hotel. Her story speculated the ghost of General Lee has also been seen on the balcony waiting for the CSS Hunley (submarine) to return. The dates don’t match up though ~ the Hunley sank after sinking the USS Housatonic in October 1863. To be fair, General Lee did watch the fire of 1861 engulf the city (start of the fire is unknown) from the balcony of the Mills House. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the story we were told.
Tricia seems like a very nice person but her tour was a mix of disjointed storytelling and lack of historic perspective. Mostly she showed photos with “orbs” that she considered to be ghosts. If you’re looking for a tour which is actually looking for ghosts, dwells on flickering lights and possible misty photos then she’s the tour guide for you.
Having taken Ghost Tours in many cities such as Quebec City, Alexandria (VA), London, Edinburgh and the Queen Mary (Long Beach, CA), which were all excellent, I was expecting more Charleston history included in the haunting tales.
The History of Charleston tour with Anne Middleton Herron was much more informative and interesting. Anne is a 13th generation Charlestonian and her family dates to the original settlers of 1670. Both her parents grew up on Church Street and Anne grew up in Charleston. She shared not only her extensive historical knowledge of the city but also her personal experience of roaming the city as a child. Her personal anecdotes and perspective added so much to the tour. She’s smart, easy-going, and kept us all interested throughout the two hours. It rained quite hard for the first hour but we were all so enthralled, we barely noticed. The tour ended at her parent’s home on Church street and we were treated to lemonade in the garden. Click here for more information and to make a reservation. A few photos from the walking tour:
Dock Street Theater ~ originally opened in 1736 but was most likely destroyed in the Great Fire of 1740. A hotel was built on its site but fell in disrepair. In the depression, it became a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project and a new theater was built within the shell of the Planter’s Hotel. The theater underwent a three-year, 19 million dollar renovation in 2007 and reopened in 2010. Next time I visit Charlesotn, I plan to see a production in the theater.
Prerevolutionary Brick House
If you take only one walking tour in Charleston, I highly recommend Anne.