Daviess County Rotary (Squirrel Cage) Jail
The Squirrel Cage Jail is located a couple blocks just west of the courthouse in Gallatin, MO. Upon entering the jail, you will find the Sheriff's living quarters. This is the only jail to have the Sheriff's living quarters attached. The first part of the jail that can be entered is the jail kitchen. The Sheriff's wife would cook for the inmates, as well as her family. The original hand crank is still in place, as well as the "grub hole" which is where the inmates food was put through. The inside of the jail is very unique. The door still opens to let the prisoners in and out of, however it does not turn anymore. One side of the jail is still intact with the bars still up and the other side is open to where you can see and go into the actual jail cells. The walls are covered with graffiti from past inmates. The facility is suitable for visitation by all ages, allows for Service Animal visits only, and recommends a prior call for group visits or tours. The location is partially wheelchair accessible.
Backstory and Context
The Daviess County Squirrel Cage Jail serves as a visitors' information center in Gallatin,
Missouri. Its construction was completed in 1889. Its unique architectural design
provided answers to concerns about prisoner security, worries about both prisoners
breaking out and accomplices breaking in: rotary jails, where a round
"squirrel cage" divides into jail cells and spins on a single axis
inside a perimeter of stationary bars. This design was touted as a means to cut down on breakouts (and break-ins) by limiting access by the jailors to the prison cells directly.
Eight rotary jails are known to have been constructed, all variations of the patented design by the Pauley Jail Building & Mfg. Company of St. Louis.This is one of the three remaining rotating jails in the United States still standing today as visual markers of yesteryear.