Old St. Johns County Jail
The Old Jail in St. Augustine was built by Henry Flagler in 1891 and has been largely unchanged though it has undergone renovation. It was originally built to house up to 72 prisoners and operated for over 60 years, finally closing in 1953 and becoming a museum soon after. It was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1987. Visitors can take guided tours throughout the jail and learn about the prisoners and the practices that took place, as well as about the Sheriff and his family lived. A visit in enhanced by actors dressed up as deputies from the early days. The Old Jail is one of just a few prisons of its kind still standing.
Backstory and Context
The two-story northern wing of the jail has a general population and maximum security area, a women’s section, and a lower level kitchen. The maximum security section held the worst prisoners and those condemned to die. During the jail’s history, eight men were hung from the jail’s gallows.
The overall conditions of the jail were very poor. Prisoners bathed infrequently and each cell had one bucket to use as a toilet. The prisoners had very poor diets and sometimes supplemented their food with animals they caught while working the fields. The southern wing of the jail consists of an office for the sheriff and living quarters for his family.
"Authentic Old Jail & St. Augustine Historical Tours." St. Augustine Attractions. Accessed October 15, 2015. http://www.staugustineattractions.net/attractions.php?id=10768782855460.