Cursed pillar.

The Cursed Pillar

Field review by the editors.

Augusta, Georgia

It may be that curses are proclaimed every day to keep objects where they are. At least two have successfully maintained the status quo for over a century: the obscure Hoo Doo Marker of Maryland, and the surprisingly popular Cursed Pillar of Georgia.

The Cursed Pillar was once part of a downtown Augusta market. According to its accompanying plaque, an evangelist wanted to preach next to the pillar but was forbidden by the authorities. He declared that the market would be destroyed, and that the pillar beside him would be the only thing left standing.

Haunted Pillar of the Lower Market historical marker.

A freak tornado then blew through Augusta, doing exactly what the preacher had said would be done.

But the curse wasn't through. The story continued that if anyone tried to move the pillar, they would die immediately, or at least very soon. Accounts up until the late 1950s tell of unfortunate Augusta highway workers who were struck by thunderbolts or crushed by their machinery when they tried to move the pillar.

And the pillar's power has only grown with time. Some accounts now say that the pillar will kill anyone who even touches it.

We decided to ask a convenient pillar expert: Bill Prince, who runs Bill's Place liquors across the street. According to Bill, he's seen the pillar from behind his cash register nearly every day since 1961. "There's a lot of Yankees come here to take pictures of it," said Bill. "I don't know what the hell they expect to see."

The Haunted Pillar along Broad Street.

The pillar certainly looks like it could be cursed. It's cracked and chipped, made of cement-covered brick stained with age, and stands alone and surprisingly inconspicuous on a busy street corner. Its historical plaque refers to it as a less-terrifying "haunted" pillar, and reduces the hellfire curse to a passive prediction. But the plaque is in the highway median, a distance perhaps calculated to be outside its radius of malignancy.

Bill doesn't buy any of it. "People touch that column every day," he said. "They lean against it, wrap their arms around it, climb on top of it. It's just amazing how people react to that column."

Bill recalled one visitor to his store who said that he would knock the pillar down. "He goes two doors over to the pawn shop and gets him a sledgehammer, then he goes over there and starts whalin' on that column," Bill said. "I thought he was kiddin' at first, but the third time he hit it I called the police."

That unchallenged attack would suggest that the Cursed Pillar's vengeful mojo is finally spent. We prefer to believe that its capacity for retribution is endless, and that the horrible fate of its assailant was simply not swift enough for Bill to notice. "The police drove up and the guy's still knocking on the column," Bill recalled. "So they arrested him, and then they come over here and gave me the damn sledgehammer."

The Cursed Pillar

Address:
214 Fifth St., Augusta, GA
Directions:
Downtown. On the east side of Fifth St. just south of US Hwy 1/Broad St., at the edge of the parking lot for a water store named The Source.
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October 24, 2014

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