Address: 216 North 5th Street, Jacksonville, OR 97530
The historic Jackson County Jail stands on the site of three previous jails.
The original jail, built in the 1850s, was a simple structure. It was replaced in 1875 with a sturdy brick building reinforced with “4,000 pounds of iron spikes for strength.” Seven inch thick wooden planks lined the masonry walls and separated the cells. The building burned to the ground in 1889, taking the lives of the three inmates housed there at the time.
The structure was replaced with a larger jail boasting a concrete floor and a corrugated iron ceiling. Five 5-ply steel-plated jail cells slept four inmates each in hammock beds. At the end of the corridor separating the cells, a one seat “privy” and a cast iron wash sink served sheriff and inmates alike.
By 1910, this jail was deemed old and inadequate. It was torn down to make way for the current jail built to house 25 prisoners. The historic jail that we know was completed in 1911. Heavy iron cages lined the first floor; two reinforced cells and a number of padded cells were constructed on the second floor. The jail continued in service until the county seat was moved to Medford in 1927 and a new courthouse and jail were constructed there.
In the 1960s, the Southern Oregon Historical Society converted the structure into a hands-on Children’s Museum of Pioneer History. The Children’s Museum was a popular Jacksonville fixture until SOHS closed it in 2010. In 2011, SOHS partnered with Kid Time, consolidating the Children’s Museum exhibits with Kid Time activities in the new SOHS History Center in Medford.
The historic Jail is currently serving as gallery space for periodic events hosted by local artists and art groups.
Upcoming events include A Taste of Summer (June 11, 2011) and the Annual Artists’ Workshop Show and Sale (late August).
For information on upcoming events and the historic Jail’s rental availability and fees, contact the Jacksonville Heritage Society at email@example.com.