Hunting for abandoned places in South Carolina? You’re in the right place. Below are 13 of my favorite abandoned places across the state.
Abandoned Places In South Carolina
1. South Carolina Lunatic Asylum
This massive lunatic asylum was designed by the famous architect Robert Mills who designed the first Washington monument in 1827. The South Carolina Lunatic Asylum was first only available to paying white patients, but would allow admit some African Americans, even when slaver was still legal.
As time went on the campus would expand to accommodate the demand, but like nearly all institutions during this time, the site was underfunded and understaffed. Funding issues continued to plague the hospital throughout the 70s and into the 90s. The hospital was last a geriatric care facility before shutting down for good in 2015.
The architecture is ornate, and still holds a timeless Renaissance feel even in its current state of decay. The Department of Health and Environmental Control still occupies one of the buildings while the remainder of the campus sits empty but officially for sale.
2. Cypress Garden Ruins
The Cypress Garden Ruins are home to some of the oldest remains of early American life in the country. The large ruins commonly seen in photos are part of the Dean Hall rice plantation built in 1750. The land was purchased for duck hunting where the plantation buildings were neglected and vulnerable to flooding during the Depression era.
In 1963 the property was donated to the city, but when Hurricane Hugo ripped through the area some 20 years later the city didn’t want to put the work in to restore the site. The site was now in the care of Berkeley County where restoration work took place.
In 2015 floodwaters forced the site to close down once again. Today, the organization in charge of it’s restoration offers tickets to tour the grounds after receiving FEMA assistance to help repair the damages.
The ruins submerged in the swamp creates a unique picturesque atmosphere you won’t want to pass up. You can choose to visit this location by purchasing tickets, making this one of the best legal abandoned places in South Carolina to explore.
Even if you’re a seasoned explorer, you’ll want to snap some shots of this place especially if you have good lighting.
3. Old Charleston Jail
The Charleston Jail operated between 1802 and 1939 imprisoning everyone from Civil War solders to coastal pirates. Unlike many abandoned places in South Carolina, the old jail has continuously had people pushing for its preservation throughout the years.
The jail is in great shape with many of its original architectural features still in tact. If you’re looking for a simple place to explore legally, the jail is a great option. More seasoned explorers looking for a more genuine urban exploration experience might consider passing up on this place.
4. Castle Pinckney
This now ruined castle was built in 1810 on top of the much older ruins of a 18th century coastal fort. After the war of 1812 the fort was abandoned and left to the elements. 20 years later the fort was reactivated as a network of defensive positions to protect the coast.
The fort was home to over 28 different cannon all varying in size and capability. It was briefly used during the Civil War as a prison for Union solders, but it was clear the fort was much too small to house all 154 troops. After a fire broke out the fort was left in a state of decay. Several attempts were made to restore and preserve the fort but all attempts failed to secure funding.
If you a raw hands on experience, look no further. The ruins are just as they were when they were abandoned. Due to its isolated location any maintenance was practically impossible. If you’re up for a challenge it could be a fun place to visit. Since Castle Pickney is on an island, this is one of the more difficult abandoned places in South Carolina to explore.
5. Glendale Mill
In it’s heyday, the Glendale Mill boomed from 1830 to 1876 with over 1200 spindles and 24 looms that were powered by a nearby water wheel. By 1922 the number of spindles grew to over 38,000 manned by 350 fully time employees.
Sadly in 2004, the mills was engulfed in flames and burned for what seemed like days. Rather than demolish the ruins, the community embraced them. If you’re interested in the fully history of the Glendale Mill, be sure to check this full write up on the site.
The redbrick ruins are consumed by mossy green vines making this a great place to explore during the summer. The town of Glendale is a bit out of the way, but if you find yourself not too far off I’d definitely consider stopping by. Many mills of this era are either completely preserved or gone entirely.
The town has numerous homes and company buildings that are also abandoned, so be sure to hunt for those while you’re in the area.
6. Fort Sumter
Unlike Castle Pinckney, Fort Sumter is a better example of a persevered abandoned sea fort. The fort was initially built to defend the coastline during the war of 1812, but wasn’t finished in time. The fort was seriously damaged during the war and left in ruins much of its early years.
The fort would live to see more fighting thanks to its new upgrades and reinforced foundations. The fort was reactivated to defend the coastline during the Civil War, but was nearly destroyed by the end of the war. It’s roles throughout history secured its places as a National Historic Park
The foundation of the fort is still visible along with a few monuments. Rising sea levels continue to threaten site, so if you’re close by it might be worth checking out.
7. Sheldon Church Ruins
The ruins you see today were originally part of of the Prince William’s Parish Church built sometime during the mid 1700s. The church was set ablaze during the Revolution War, and the to add insult to injury, was set on fire again during the Revolutionary war.
The damage was significant, so residents left the stone shell and reused other material for their nearby homes and businesses.
The ruins are open for anyone to explore and photograph. While ruins aren’t anything new for many explorers the massive stone pillar and large oaks make this place truly something unique.
8. Lando School
Lando School is a historic schoolhouse build around 1905. It has a very unique Renaissance Revival architecture not seen in many school houses of it’s time. The school was primarily built to support the children of the workers at Marietta Mill. While the mill operated until 1991, the school closed in 1951.
The outside of the building is gorgeous, especially if you’re a fan of Renaissance Revival style. The interior is nothing special, with many of the rooms gutted and tasteless graffiti sprawled across the walls. If you’re close by its worth at least shooting the exterior.
9. Freestyle Music Park
The Hard Rock Park opened in 2008 featuring the Eagles and the Moody Blues playing during opening day. The park had different sections dedicated to famous rock artists and iconic times such as “Lost in the 70s”, and the “British Invasion”.
The grand opening received mostly positive reviews, but the park was having trouble paying its debts. A low marketing budgeted and lower-than-expected attendance put the park in serious trouble. With investors writing off their funding as a loss, operational funds for the park dried up fast.
Under new ownership the park took on the name Freestyle Music Park, where the new owners attempted to keep the same theme, just not under the Hard Rock name. This didn’t work out at all. A consultant for amusement parks (yes that’s a thing) said: “It’s probably the largest catastrophe in our industry. Quite frankly the park shouldn’t reopen.”
The park has been abandoned and suffered from numerous “suspicious fires.” A good amount of the buildings still stand but nearly all rides have been removed and sold. If this is your first abandoned amusement park, you might want to check it out.
10. The Boynton House
In the early 1900s The Boynton family owned the land where it served as a plantation and ranch for their cattle. They built the iconic Victorian-style house around this time. Not a whole lot is known what happened during its early history, but the land was eventually sold to a company called Duck Unlimited during 90s.
In 2005 the land was sold to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the home became part of the park land.
The Boynton House is now a part of the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, and even has a trail dedicated to it. It’s mix of history and backwoods atmosphere makes it a great place for both new and seasoned urban explorers alike.
11. Atalaya Castle
Atalaya was built by stone masons in the early 1930s and completed in 1933. The home was built to be a winter retreat for Anna Huntington who suffered from tuberculosis. The sturdy stone walls houses 30 different room with an enclosed courtyard at the center
The hardy home came in handy during World War II when the Huntington’s left their home and provided it to the Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1946. When Mrs Huntington died in 1973 the land was leased to the state and was turned into a park.
The castle is quietly crumbling but still in excellent condition. It’s an impressive structure, despite its lack of a thrilling history.
12. Charleston Naval Hospital Historic District
The old Navy Yard was established in 1902 which served ships at port and had several medical bays and sick quarters. The base saw rapid expansion, especially as World War I began to kick off. However a lack of funding and mounting maintenance costs left the emergency hospital shuttered.
In 1970 the renovation of a new modern 500-bed hospital was unveiled. This brought improved military care throughout the 1970s until the 1990s. In 1996 the North Charleston Naval base was closed, leaving the hospital’s future in the balance. Over the years parts of the hospital would slowly scale back and close, until the building was closed in 2006.
The building is massive and the total property spans just under 100 acres. If you’re in the area you won’t want to miss exploring this piece of American military history. This is personally one of my favorite abandoned places in South Carolina.
13. Landsford Canal
The Landsford Canal was used as a navigation channel as early as 1823 to aid in local transportation. The Canal had five different locks that stretched over the course of two miles. Like many canals during this era, it was built by Irish laborers and masons.
The Canal wasn’t as popular as it’s designers hoped it would be, and failed to bring any lasting economic purpose. This created a lack of funding which led to the canal becoming inoperable due to mounting repairs.
Today the old mossy canal is park of the Landsford Canal State Park (how fitting). Alrhough I’m not a huge fan of classifying parks as urban exploration, I do love this place in the summer. The mossy wall and old ruins make for a great casual explore.
Go out and explore!
That concludes our list of abandoned places in South Carolina, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to find. Take the back roads, follow train tracks, and find some places for yourself. There are plenty of places I kept off this list so get out there and explore.