Photography . . . Travel . . .

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Exploring the Low Country - Part 4 - Charleston Ghost Tour

On the evening of June 10, 1987 a local Charleston amateur photographer named Harry Reynolds poked the lens of his camera between the wrought iron bars of the fence around the graveyard at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina to get some shots of the tombstones. Afterwards, he sent his film in for developing, and when it came back he was in for quite a surprise. In one of the frames a cloaked “ghost” figure was supposedly visible, kneeling over a grave. The film was examined by experts at Kodak and it was determined that this was no hoax. Further research at the time revealed that June 10th was the 99th anniversary of the 1888 death of the stillborn child of one Sue Howard Hardy, who herself died just 6 days later. The cloaked figure was kneeling over the grave of Sue Howard Hardy. The story circulating ever since is that the cloaked figure was in fact the ghost of Sue Howard Hardy.

Heather and I knew nothing of the story of the ghost of Sue Howard Hardy when . . . .

. . . . on the evening of June 4, 2012 I poked the lens of my camera between the wrought iron bars of the fence around the graveyard at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina to get some shots of the tombstones. Thanks to the magic of digital photography I didn’t have to wait for film to be developed. When the first image popped up on the screen Heather let out a little scream, saying something about a ghost. We both laughed, and then thought no more of it. Sure enough though, if you look at the small tombstone in the back right portion of the frame, just under and to the right of the left side window, you can see what appears to be a face.

Neither of us had ever heard of Sue Howard Hardy, Harry Reynolds, or the ghost. We never did take one of the many “ghost tours” offered in Charleston. What caught our attention was this sign, positioned just inside the fence. We had no idea what it meant at the time. We found out a few minutes later.

Just as Heather mentioned the "ghost" in my first shot (the one above), we noticed that we had an audience. About 15 people had walked up in a group – it was an actual ghost tour. I was kneeling on the ground propping my camera on the low stone wall at the base of the wrought iron fence. The guide started to tell the story of Sue Howard Hardy, and even had a convenient prop (me) when he got to the part about the amateur photographer “taking photos of the tombstones, much like this gentleman right here”. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few patrons thought I might have been a plant.

Later we moved across the street to another part of the graveyard, where we spotted a trio of dark gray cats. Two of them found a cool spot to lounge on one of the stone vaults, and Heather asked if I could get a shot of them. It was pretty dark, but I tried a bit of light painting  with my pocket flashlight, which illuminated them just enough to make them look like ghosts. The camera's flash would have totally ruined the nighttime effect, so I didn't bother with that.

Here's a closer view of the Ghost Cats of St. Philip's.

On our first night in Charleston I had spotted an interesting view through a dark corridor alongside the graveyard at St. Mary's Catholic Church. I took a couple of shots, but they were somewhat blurry since I didn't use any sort of support for the camera in the low light. I decided to go back the following night to try for something better. Here's what I got on the second visit.

On the first visit, however, I did get something a bit more interesting, even if not quite as sharp. Look closely in this next image and you can see the Ghost Cat of St. Mary's running from right to left just in front of the statue.

With the lights in the church off at night, the red glow of the votive candles made for an eerie picture across the graveyard.

Next time we're in Charleston we'll have to take a real ghost tour - I'm sure there must be more stories and more ghosts.


  1. Oooo... spooooookeeeeeee. The ghost tours sounds like a lot of fun. The face of the tombstone is pretty cool. Heather has a knack for spotting the paranormal.

  2. The ghost tour could be fun I'veaken the Old Town one and Sterling even got a picture of a ghost in the Whaley House! These are all great images Frank. I enjoyed this evening!


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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage. You can also see more on my Instagram page @frankbaiamonte.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.