Albuquerque
 Albuquerque
Atlanta
 Atlanta
Austin
 Austin
Boston
 Boston
Buick
 Buick
Charleston
 Charleston
Chicago
 Chicago
Dallas
 Dallas
Denver
 Denver
Detroit
 Detroit
Kansas City, MO
 Kansas City, MO
Los Angeles
 Los Angeles
Memphis
 Memphis
Miami
 Miami
Minneapolis
 Minneapolis
Napa
 Napa
New Orleans
 New Orleans
New York
 New York
Oakland
 Oakland
Philadelphia
 Philadelphia
Phoenix
 Phoenix
Pittsburgh
 Pittsburgh
Portland, ME
 Portland, ME
Portland, OR
 Portland, OR
Raleigh-Durham
 Raleigh-Durham
San Diego
 San Diego
San Francisco
 San Francisco
Seattle
 Seattle
Washington, D.C.
 Washington, D.C.
Roundtable

Roundtable

Hidden gems from Charleston's ultimate insiders.

Shrimp and Biscuits

Shrimp and Biscuits

Shrimpin' and bakin' in the South.

Hootie and the Tour Guide

Hootie and the Tour Guide

Music and history is good for the soul.

The Fine Print

The Fine Print

A destination for literary fans.

Artistic Roots

Artistic Roots

Art and culture in the Holy City.

Insider Profiles

Connecting With Charleston's Past Through the Paranormal

John LaVerne"Charleston is not a stage, it's a living, breathing historical town where people live in 300-year-old houses and the business takes place in the same places it has for hundreds of years, the same families have gone to the same churches for centuries."


John LaVerne has never seen an apparition, but that doesn't mean he doesn't believe in ghosts. In a city with a 300-year history, the presence of things past is bound to make itself known. "Especially in January, when it's cold and quiet and there's not a soul in sight, I've had the very distinct smell of pipe or cigar smoke come past the group," recalls LaVerne. "That's unexplainable yet pretty common, to smell or hear something strange."

As owner and tour guide of Bulldog Tours, LaVerne runs one of the largest tour companies in Charleston. He frequently strolls the city after dark, sometimes stopping at its more haunted locations, like the Old Jail. But while there may be any number of otherworldly visitors wandering Charleston's cobbled streets and off-the-beaten-path alleyways, LaVerne is personally interested in stories and experiences of the present-day people who live in this historic place.

"Charleston is not a stage, it's a living, breathing historical town where people live in 300-year-old houses and the business takes place in the same places it has for hundreds of years, the same families have gone to the same churches for centuries," he explains. "I tell people to leave their car, park it in the garage and get out. Walk around, ride a bike — get lost in the back alleys and city streets."

Church Street runs from Charleston City Market to the strand of land at the harbor known as The Battery. When he needs to recharge, LaVerne treads this well-worn path past antebellum homes down to the view of Fort Sumter. He quips that the beauty of Charleston being a pedestrian-friendly city is that residents can walk off all the delicious Southern cooking they enjoy. Dixie Supply Bakery & Cafe still serves stone-ground grits, tomato pie and Charleston chews, brownie-like cookies that are a local delicacy and very popular with Bulldog's staff. The Eclectic Chef, in the suburbs of the city, "is a staple in our family for traditional recipes with a twist," says LaVerne.

Even though he steeps in Charleston's history on a daily basis, LaVerne still loves to drive a few miles out of town to visit some of the former rice plantations abutting the city. He actually lives in the plantation district on property once owned by a man that local lore says was the inspiration for Rhett Butler in "Gone With the Wind." "There are four open [plantations]: Middleton Place, Magnolia Gardens, Drayton Hall and Boone Hall," explains LaVerne. "I'm a native and I do this for a living and I still go. They're about 10 miles from historic downtown, but a million miles away and a great place to decompress."

So how does a paranormal enthusiast find a ghost in Charleston? Explore a part of the city after dark. "Come back to a street at night because it will feel like a different place," says LaVerne. "The night adds to the magic of the city, especially on the quiet residential streets where it's easy to transport yourself back hundreds of years."

Check out John's Charleston.