The Old Jail
The Old Jail was the third county jail to be used, and was constructed in 1927. The bottom floor was composed of two bedrooms, one bathroom, one living room, a kitchen, and another room which was sometimes used as a third bedroom or a dining room, depending upon the size of the family living there. From the beginning, the County Sheriff or his Deputy and family occupied the living quarters on the first floor and the inmates were housed on the second floor. This was the custom followed until the Old Jail was abandoned in 1980.
The Old Jail was unused for many years except for when the occasional piece of evidence was stored there by the Sheriff's office. In 1996, the Chairman of the Montague County Historical Commission, Melvin Fenoglio, went before the Commissioners' Court and asked if the Old Jail could be used by the Historical Commission for their meeting place. The Court rents the Old Jail to the Commission for $1 per year and will do so until the year 2046. With the exception of a new roof, the jail looks much like it did in the early days. Many of the interior walls on the first floor have been painted, and some torn down. A bathroom was added to the northwest corner of the building, as well as a small kitchen area. What used to be two bedrooms and a bath is now one meeting room.
On the top floor were four cells, each measuring 9' x 8'. There were four metal bunks attached to the walls, two on each side of the cell. Thus sixteen inmates could be accommodated in these four cells. In addition, there were two juvenile cells, each 8' x 11'. Each of the cells had two metal bunks, allowing four juvenile offenders to be housed at the same time. A female cell was built as part of the top floor. Some were housed here, but long term female inmates were sent to the Wise County Detention Center, since few female prisoners are on record during that period of county history.
The Old Jail was considered adequate for its time. Its outside measurements are approximately 39' x 28' and is constructed by brick veneer with windows for ventilation. It has no air conditioning. Heat was provided by radiators which were coal-fired from the basement of the courthouse. The Old Jail withstood the test of time, but it could no longer meet modern jail standards, and a new jail was constructed to replace it. Prisoners moved from the Old Jail to the new jail on August 26, 1980.
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