Charleston, South Carolina is known as the Holy City because of its tolerance of different religious affiliations. It is the leading peach producer in the United States and has a lot of picturesque locations. There are also famous landmarks here like Ravenel Bridge, Forts Sumter and Moultrie, the Angel Oak Tree, mansions, fountains, and lighthouses.
It is also famous for the Dock Street Theatre. The venue hosts plays and concerts but it is also known as a building where people interested in paranormal activities go to. There have been stories about ghosts living in this theatre and if you want to know more, read on.
The outside of Dock Street Theatre. (Link: https://www.wheretraveler.com/charleston/dock-street-theatre)
The History Of Dock Street Theatre
In 1740, the building where Dock Street Theatre is now was destroyed by the Great Fire, which also destroyed most of the buildings in the French Quarter of Charleston. The construction of the original Dock Street Theatre started sometimes in 1735 and the opening was on February 12, 1736. The theatre lasted for only four years because a fire burned down the theatre. Another theatre was built and it was open for 40 years. It was shut down because of another grand theatre built around the corner.
The original Dock Street Theatre. (Link: http://www.halseymap.com/flash/window.asp?HMID=14)
In 1809, the same location was where the Planter’s Hotel was built. Because of the Civil War, the hotel was demolished because it could no longer be used as such. Sometimes in 1935, the construction of the second Dock Street Theatre began. Then-mayor Burnet Maybank and other notable citizens teamed up with the Works Progress Administration project. They used what was left of the Planter’s Hotel to construct the Dock Street Theatre. The hotel’s grand foyer became the grand foyer of the theatre and the hotel’s dining room became the theatre’s lobby.
The Dock Street Theatre was modeled from eighteenth century London playhouses. The following year, another renovation worth $350,000 was done. The grand opening of the second Dock Street Theatre was on November 26, 1937.
The Dock Street Theatre sign. (Link: https://scaresandhauntsofcharleston.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/the-dock-street-theater/)
In 2010, the Dock Street Theatre once again opened. The three-year renovation was worth $19 million this it became one of the state-of-the-art theatre during the 21st century. Now, it is owned by the City of Charleston and continues to cater to the public.
It takes pride as the last Antebellum hotel still standing and the Dock Street Theatre is said to be a symbol of its people’s desire for life. Despite this desire for life, the Dock Street Theatre is one of the most haunted buildings in the whole of Charleston.
The Dock Street Theatre now. (Link: https://www.pinterest.ph/pin/206250857909713615/?lp=true)
The Ghosts At The Dock Street Theatre
A lot of people who have gone to Dock Street Theatre or just passed by have their own stories as to the ghosts they have seen in the area. Some say they were failed actors, long time admirers of the theatre, or are simply lost souls who have found residence at the Dock Street Theatre.
The first ghost sometimes spotted belongs to Junius Brutus Booth. Accordingly, Booth died in Louisville, Kentucky so it is unclear why he haunts the theatre. He did perform at the theatre in the past with his group and there were rumors that he even tried to kill a manager some time ago so it could be possible that these are what tie him to the Dock Street Theatre.
Junius Brutus Booth in an undated photo. (Link: https://boothiebarn.com/picture-galleries/booth-family/jbb/junius-brutus-booth-loc/)
Another ghost belongs to a woman allegedly named Nettie Dickerson. Locals called the ghost Nettie but others say her name is not yet identified. She frequents the Dock Street Theatre more often than Booth. She was not a guest or a member of the then Planter’s Hotel but she was in and out of the hotel because she worked as a prostitute. She is usually seen gliding around the theatre and some people who saw her claimed she wore a vibrant red dress but it was tattered and if you read on, you will know exactly why.
The story of Nettie Dickerson is rather tragic. She arrived in Charleston around the 1840s to find love and excitement. She also dreamed of happiness but because her status in life was not wealthy and her age was already past the preferred age of the wealthy men in the area when looking for someone to marry, she had to work as a clerk at a church. She later felt she did not belong and wanted to have a better standing in the society. She saved money and when she was able to save enough, she left her job and went to an expensive store in Charleston. She bought the most expensive dress they had, which was the red dress she is reportedly seen wearing.
Nettie started getting married men to pay her for sexual favors. However, Nettie confronted the wives of the husbands who paid her in the past whenever she was provoked by how the wives looked at her when she went to church. Later, lesser men wanted to be her customer because of that trait so she became penniless. She was so distraught that she went out to the second floor balcony of the Planter’s hotel and shouted remarks against the high society of Charleston. Later, Nettie was struck with lighting, which killed her.
Do you want to see Nettie in her tattered red dress?