In a city with as much history as Charleston, SC you are bound to have a few lingering residents from a past era. The Dock Street Theatre is no exception. It is a great place to pop in for a show and possibly experience a ghostly visit from one of the residents of earlier times gone by that some believe still roam the Holy City today. This incredible building was erected in 1809 and was originally used as a hotel, the Planter’s Inn. The hotel received its name from the visitors who frequently stayed at the location–planters from the middle of South Carolina traveling through Charleston during horse racing season. Technically speaking, the theatre is known as the last surviving Antebellum Hotel in Charleston.
In the 1930s the Inn was no longer in operation and the building was left vacant and in need of serious repairs. The city of Charleston, along with the Works Progress Administration (WPA), began working to restore the building. To the rear of the original hotel they attached an additional structure, that was from the city’s first-ever theatre located on Dock Street and which featured both an auditorium and stage. Interestingly enough during the Planter’s Inn heyday, it would frequently host theatre groups that were set to perform at the original Dock Street Theatre. Even John Wilkes Booth’s father, Junius Brutus Booth, stayed at the hotel and supposedly almost killed the hotel manager after a night of rage. Some say that his lost soul still haunts the theatre and you can see him lurking behind the set.
The real ghost of the Dock Street Theatre however is legend to be Nettie Dickerson. Nettie was a prostitute in the mid-1800s and frequented the hotel often. Nettie longed to be loved, but due to her low social status and advanced age (she was only 25 but at the time, young wealthy men looked for brides in their teens), she was not able to achieve this goal. After years of rejection, Nettie tried one last time to capture a husband and have a happy marriage. She went to the most expensive store in the city and purchased a gorgeous red dress hoping to be noticed. But on one stormy night, after more rejection, she snapped. She made her way to the second-floor balcony of the inn and was shouting “you can’t save me.” Coincidentally, fate had plans for Nettie and at the moment a lightning bolt struck her dead. Today it is said you can still see Nettie’s lost soul roaming around the property in her red dress.
Whether you are a longtime local or planning a trip to Charleston there are plenty of historic sites where you just might have a spooky encounter of your own … or for the adventure lover, you can even take a guided ghost tour! Book your next trip to the Holy City and stay at one of our historic downtown rentals and let our Concierge team help you plan a visit to the Dock Street Theater, the Old City Jail or one of Charleston’s other notorious locations sure to deliver the fright of a lifetime.