The Franklin County Jail and Sheriff's house in Hampton, Iowa, was built in 1880 in the Italianate architectural style. This was the most popular Victorian era style in the United States between 1860 and 1890. The land cost the county $625, the brick building cost $6,000 and the metalwork in the jail cost $4,000. The 3,500 square foot building was built by DW Dow, and metal jail work was by J. Pauly and Brothers. The three cells in the cell block are controlled by a lever lock mechanism. The device still works and is possibly the earliest still existing example of this device. The lever lock was an innovation that J. Pauly patented in 1874. The Jail was in use for 108 years. Criminals of every kind were incarcerated in the jail until it closed in 1988.
The Franklin County jail was the last "Mom and Pop" jail to operate in the United States. Many counties in the United States use to run jails this way. The Sheriff and his family would live in the house. the Sheriff was paid a salary. His wife would cook the food for the inmates. She was paid based on how many meals she cooked. The children in the family would pitch in to clean the trays, and deliver the meals.
There was a one room women's jail upstairs in the house. The Sheriff's office was downstairs, just off of the parlor. The men's jail was three cells and cell block that was connected to the back of the house. The intake cell was used as the Juvenile detention center when needed.
This shows a layout of three cells almost identical to the cells in Franklin County jail. You can get an idea of what the origianl layout of each of the three cells originally looked like.
This is a postcard from 1882 when the jail was only two years old. This is the west side of the building on the alley side. Note the water pump. There was a cistern underneath. The brick was painted white with a darker trim. Most interesting is that the jail had no glass windows at that time. there was two layers of bars and a layer of metal wire mesh on the windows. In winter they put canvas over the inside of the windows to keep out the cold.
This is an old double image card that was made to be used with a Stereoscope. It was taken in 1887. It is the oldest picture we could find that shows the front of the Sheriff's house.
This old postcard shows the Sheriff's house on the right, and the courthouse (built in 1890) on the left. The Civil War Memorial Hall just right of it. This was taken in 1907
This interior picture of the jail was taken in about 1965. It shows the aging cell block. A few years after this pitcure was taken, the bottom of the cell door were cut off and the floor was raised using a four inch concrete layer. The sink and toilet were also replaced.
The aging and unkept jail was declared one of the worst facilities in Iowa. This is a picture of one of the cells in 1972.
In 1974 a coat of stucco was put over the original brick to try to keep it from crumbling. This was unfortunate as it detracted from the original look of the building.
This photo was taken about 1980. The pine tree was planted in 1876. In the 1980's the top broke off in a storm.
The jail and former Sheriff's house remained vacant for 27 years. This picture was taken around 2005.
In 2016 the Jail cell interior was restored to how it looked after the 1974 changes. In that year, the concrete floor was added as well as the concrete bunks.
The cell block restored to the appearance it had in 1974.
In 2019 new sidwalks and landscaping was installed.