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Called out at the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon

stories in the cemetery old exchange and provost dungeon charleston sc

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.

More than just a Blog

This is episode 25 of the Stories in the Cemetery podcast.

E42: The Stone Tape Theory and Lodge Alley Stories in the Cemetery

This episode discusses The Stone Tape Theory and uses Lodge Alley in Charleston, South Carolina as a study for the theory. You can always become a sponsor the Stories in the Cemetery Podcast by going to Anchor.fm and searching the name of the podcast. Sponsorships buttons are available. See the blog post for this episode on http://www.storiesinthecemetery.com along with our other Ghost Hunting 101 posts and Paranormal Investigations. Or if you'd like to see/hear more about the Interactive Ghost Hunting Experiences, visit the same website and click the "Let's Go Ghost Hunting" tab.  Resources used to create this episode and blog post:  References for The Stone Tape Theory Bos, P. B. (n.d.). The Stone Tape Theory. Retrieved June 6, 2022, from Haunted Walk: https://hauntedwalk.com/news/the-stone-tape-theory/ Danielson, L. (n.d.). Using GIS to Analyze Relationships to Explore Paranormal Occurrences in the. Retrieved from http://gis.smumn.edu/GradProjects/DanielsonL.pdf Lucia. (2020, March 9). How Does It Work?: The Stone Tape Theory, Residual Hauntings and the Deep Influence of Memory and Emotion. Retrieved from Ghost in the Machine: https://theghostinmymachine.com/2020/03/09/how-does-it-work-the-stone-tape-theory-residual-hauntings-and-the-deep-influence-of-memory-and-emotion/ ParaPedia. (n.d.). Theory behind Limestone Quartz and Magnetite. Retrieved June 6, 2022, from ParaPedia: http://www.panicd.com/encyclopedia/theory-behind-limestone-quartz-and-magnetite.html Potter, C. (2004, October 14). Were Pittsburgh's original finished roads and streets paved with cobblestone, Belgian block or some other type of brick? Retrieved from Pittsburgh City Paper: https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/were-pittsburghs-original-finished-roads-and-streets-paved-with-cobblestone-belgian-block-or-some-other-type-of-brick/Content?oid=1336413 References for Lodge Alley SC Picture Project. (2022). Lodge Alley. Retrieved from SC Picture Project: https://www.scpictureproject.org/charleston-county/lodge-alley.html Zierden, M., Calhoun, J., & Paysinger, E. (1983). Archaeological Investigation at Lodge Alley. Charleston, South Carolina. Retrieved from https://www.charlestonmuseum.org/assets/pdf/ArchaeologyReports/Lodge%20Alley%201983%20-%20AC%205.pdf References for Cesium Foist, L. (n.d.). What is Cesium Used for in Everyday Life? Retrieved June 22, 2022, from Study.com: https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-cesium-used-for-in-everyday-life.html Nelson, R. (n.d.). Cesium FAQ. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from Rochester: https://www.cs.rochester.edu/users/faculty/nelson/cesium/cesium_faq.html U.S. Geological Survey. (2018, June 14). Mineral Resource of the Month: Cesium. Retrieved from Earth Magazine: https://www.earthmagazine.org/article/mineral-resource-month-cesium/ — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/storiesinthecemetery/support
  1. E42: The Stone Tape Theory and Lodge Alley
  2. A Few Announcements
  3. E41: Types of Hauntings with BONUS Audio
  4. E40: St. Augustine Lighthouse; St. Augustine, Florida
  5. E39: New CoHost Amy Smart and Interview from Hillbilly Horror Stories Podcast

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