Wagener Building

Charleston, South Carolina



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The Wagener Building is located at 161 East Bay Street in Charleston, South Carolina.

Today the Wagener Building is home to the Southend Brewery and Smokehouse restaurant, but back in the early 1800's it was home to offices. The office in the corner of the third floor facing East Bay Street was used by a cotton merchant. This man had borrowed too much money, and he was having debt problems. He finally caught a break and thought he would be able to repay his outstanding bills with a huge cotton shipment. However, the night the cotton was being shipped away, he looked out of his office window and saw smoke rising from his ship in the Charleston Harbor. The ship hauling his cotton had caught fire! He watched his one hope of paying his debts burn up and sink. He didn't know what he could do - the bill collectors were running out of patience. He decided there was only one solution. He pushed all of his office furniture up against the wall to clear up the room, with the exception of a leather chair. He then took bailing wire and tied one end around his neck. He stood up on the leather chair and tossed the other end of the wire over the rafters and tied it there. He then kicked the chair out from under his body, ending his life and smashing the office window. However, this was no normal hanging. Since he used wire instead of rope he didn't suffocate or snap his neck...the wire sliced through his flesh and he was decapitated! The blood pooled on the floor, and dripped down to the second floor. It pooled there and dripped down to the first floor. Early the next morning a paperboy noticed seagulls flying in and out of the smashed third floor window. When he looked closer, he noticed they were carrying strips of human flesh in their beaks. The police came and found the man's body, along with a note that said "I had no other choice."

Legend has it that the blood stain on the first floor could never be removed. The buildings owners scrubbed it so much over the years that today there is an indentation in the floor. If you look close at the indentation, you may notice small red flecks of dried blood. Also, people dining in that corner of the third floor witness silverware being moved on it's own, and sometimes even chairs are moved.

A big thank you to Tad, our tour guide on the Bulldog Ghost Tours for sharing this story. If you're ever in Charleston, I definitely recommend this tour!



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