Lydias Assistant April 27th, 2007
At the corner of Broad and Fifth streets stands one of Augusta Georgia’s most famous relics. A humble 10 foot tall piece of concrete Augustans call The Haunted Pillar.
The story of the pillar got its start way back in 1830. That year a new Farmer’s Market was built over what was then called Center Street. The pillar was part of a row of columns that held up the large front Greek portico. And so it stood, until a freak tornado struck downtown Augusta in February of 1878. The entire farmer’s market was destroyed, except for the one remaining column.
Shown above – The Haunted Column
Now tornados are rather rare on the east coast, especially in February. The legend began…Local lore claims that if you happen to touch the pillar, you will be struck dead.
The most commonly heard tale is that a traveling preacher, angry at being prevented from giving a sermon at the market, cursed the building, “A great wind will destroy this place except for one pillar… and whomever tries to remove this remaining pillar will be struck dead!”
Others claim that slaves were sold at the market, and that the slaves were chained to the pillar and whipped. A slave woman cursed all the market, causing it’s destruction, and the stain of that curse remains in the haunted pillar. However, there is no evidence that any slaves were ever sold at the market.
At any rate, most Augustans of the time were glad to see the market gone. The decor had not fit the tastes of the time. Even worse, the building had blocked off what is now Broad Street, causing exasperating traffic jams as horse-drawn buggies slowly made their way past huge freight wagons loaded with produce. As one local newspaper put it, ”It was, at best, an unsightly edifice and marred the grand boulevard upon which it was mistakenly located.”
Strangely enough, the pillar we see today is neither ‘real’ nor is it in the original spot. It was destroyed in 1935 in an automobile incident. The column was rebuilt by local business owners, and a year later was moved to the corner of 5th and Broad street, where it can be seen today.
Friday the 13th, 1958, a cotton bale fell off a passing truck and knocked the pillar over. It was quickly re-erected. No one was injured on the truck or on the construction crew. That we know of, anyway.