Williamson County Jail - Marion, Ilinois
Posted by: BruceS
N 37° 43.818 W 088° 55.696
16S E 330077 N 4177642
Quick Description: Historic former jail now museum in Marion, Illinois.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 6/7/2009 5:49:18 PM
Waymark Code: WM6HW4
"The building served Williamson County as a jail for almost sixty years. During its operation as a jail, it housed prisoners involved in significant events in Williamson County's history and the history of Illinois. The Construction and design of the building reflect the national movement for the improvement of prisoner conditions during the Progressive Era. The Williamson County Jail served the citizens of the county from 1913 until 1971, when it was closed...
The architectural firm of N.S. Spencer and Temple of Champaign, Illinois, were chosen to provide the working drawings and specifications for the new jail. George W. Ashby, an architect from Berwyn, Illinois, who had down other jobs in Marion also made a presention to the county board. Spencer and Temple have two building listed on the National Register. They are the historic Inman Hotel in Campaign and the Mohomet, Illinois, grade school.
The design included three floors and a basement. The facility housed not only prisoners, but also the sheriff and his family. The sheriff's living quarters and offices were in the front section of the first and second floors. Cells reserved for male prisoners were located behind the sheriff's quarters on the first and second floors. A smaller cell area on the second floor was reserved for female prisoners. The four cell blocks each had five cells and housed four male inmates per cell. The facility was built to house 81 men and 6 women at one time, with a total prisoner capacity of 87. The third floor contained space for sequestered juries, as well as a children's playroom." - National Register Nomination Form
Williamson County was a very violent area of the country in the the late 1800' into the 1930's. The county was a hotbed of labor violence due the growth of coal mining in the county. It also became a strong location for the Ku Klux Klan violence and gang violence attributed to bootlegging during Prohibition. With this level of violence the county became known as "Bloody Williamson" and the jail often was filled to near capacity or more than capacity to accommodate those awaiting trials.
After the jail closed it was sold for $1 to the local historical society and is now a history museum.
105 S. Van Buren St
Open to the public: Yes
Thursdays 9 am - 3 pm
3rd Thursday of month - 9 am - 8 pm
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