The Haunted Dock Street Theater has plenty of spine-tingling ghost stories to tell as America’s first theater? Find out more about the tales, secrets and legends that cloak this historic theater.

Step inside the Dock Street Theatre in the historical and haunted city of Charleston in South Carolina, perhaps one of America’s most haunted cities and you will be met by centuries of eerie legends and tales about the ghosts that haunt the building. 

Visit this historic theater to discover its bone-chilling stories of unexplainable occurrences, from sightings of a spectral figure roaming the corridors to mysterious sounds emanating from unseen sources.

America’s First Theater

The building that is now the Dock Street Theater was built in 1809 in the French Quarter in downtown Charleston as a hotel where most of the ghost stories originate from and converted to a theater in 1935. It is also known as the last remaining Antebellum Hotel in Charleston. 

But the original Dock Street Theatre opened all the way back in 1736 and is the oldest surviving theater of its kind in the United States and has welcomed many famous names 

The Haunted Dock Street Theater has plenty of spine-tingling ghost stories to tell as AMerica’s first theater? Find out more about the tales, secrets and legends that cloak this historic theater.
Dock Street Theater: The downtown theater has been used both as one of America’s first theaters as well as operating as a hotel from where the ghost stories from the place stems from.//source: Brian Stansberry//wikimedia

Along with hearing tales of ghostly sightings, you may just stumble upon additional, unexplainable phenomena while roaming the theater’s hallways.

The Ghost of Junius Booth in Dock Street Theater

Visitors, staff both on stage and off stage have several times been describing their interactions with ghostly apparitions, phantom voices and other otherworldly phenomena. From disembodied footsteps to mysterious moving shadows, these chilling recollections have been compiled over years of research and exploration of Dock Street Theatre’s many nooks and crannies.

One of the ghosts haunting the Dock Street Theater is said to be Junius Booth, the father of the assassin John Wilkes Booth who murdered Abraham Lincoln. Why he is haunting this exact theater is unknown as he wasn’t even in Charlesville when he passed away. 

He did however perform at the building in the time it was a hotel called Planter’s Hotel with his theater troupe. Rumor has it that he tried to kill the hotel manager in a fit of rage, but nothing else. 

Read about more Haunted Theatres: Here

Nettie the Ghost in the Red Dress

Many of the ghost legends have been shaped by events that happened long ago, such as a tragic fire or some sort of terrible event that occurred within the theater itself. It’s believed that many of these past occurrences may be connected to why certain ghosts still remain there today.

The ghost that most people report on seeing in the Dock Street Theater is that of Nettie and she has her own story to tell. Most likely it was a name given to her after she was spotted as a ghost, but there are theories that her name was really Nettie Dickerson.

Nettie the Ghost lived in Charleston in the 1800’s in the time it was Planter’s Hotel, working there as a prostitute when she was alive. The hotel was a definitive go to place in terms of alcohol, parties and prostitutes as well as gambling. 

The local legend is said that she was a 25 year old country girl who had moved to Charleston in the 1840s, dreaming of a city life with more exciting days than in the countryside. She was also looking for love, but at 25 she was well past her prime for marriage and not really highly sought after. 

From Church Clerk to Hotel Prostitute

Before becoming a prostitute she worked as a clerk in the church, a life far from where she ended up. She was friendly with the priest and did well at her job, but in the end, she wanted more and went to the Planter’s Hotel for it. 

Nettie went to the shop and bought herself the most expensive red dress to wear and to get a man in. Although she gained many customers and money at first, her lack of discretion made her lose it all just as quick. Besides, the men she went after, didn’t look at her as someone to marry. Poor and desperate, she went into a storm out on the balcony on the second floor. She started screaming, letting her bitterness of Charleston and her situation out. 

The priest she got along with tried to reason with her and get her down safely. She shouted to him that he couldn’t save her, and as legend goes, she was struck by a bolt of lightning in the head and died.

It is said that to this day, you can see the ghost of Nettie, roaming in her red dress inside the Dock Street Theater. 

Read about more ghost stories about Woman in Red.

The Lady in Red of Bang Pakong River

Sitting on the railing in her red dress, the ghost waves her victims closer, urging them to jump to their death. This is the tale of the Lady in Red of Bang Pakong River. 

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The Dock Street Theater Air of Mystery

There are plenty of folklore and local stories that have been passed down throughout the years about the Dock Street Theatre, a place old, riddled with mystery and the spectacle that a theater can give. The legends of the Dock Street Theater are a mix of fact, fiction, and personal experience and sometime you have to experience yourself. 

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