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 is the oldest picture we could find of the jail It is an old double image card that was made to be used with a Stereoscope.
This old postcard shows the Jail on the right, and on the left the courthouse (built in 1890), and the Civil War Memorial Hall.
This old postcard shows the Jail on the far right, the courthouse, and Central Avenue.
The aging cell block
The aging and unkept jail was declared one of the worst facilities in Iowa. This is a picture of one of the cells in 1973.
A coat of stucco was put over the original brick to try to keep it from crumbling.
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.
Jail cell interior restored to how it looked after the 1973 improvements.
The exterior of the building with new sidewalks and landscaping.
The lever lock box and heavy door into the cell block. Escape would be difficult.