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This museum preserves the history of the first rotating jail built in the United States and is the last of three remaining rotary jails in the country. Owing to numerous injuries to inmates, the jail closed in 1973. The jail was then converted to a museum and re-opened to the public in 1975.

Inside the rotary jail.

Inside the rotary jail.

In the spring of 1881, architect William H. Brown and iron foundry owner Benjamin F. Haugh of Indianapolis filed a patent for a jail with revolving cells. The main objective was to produce a jail where prisoners could be controlled without the necessity of personal contact between the guards and the inmates. The design aligned a two-tier cylindrical cell block with one main column that served as both support and plumbing for the individual toilets in the cells. Each tier had eight wedge-shaped cells, but the whole structure has only one door. When a guard rotated the hand crank, the cell block spun, and sent the prisoners on a disorienting carousel ride past the access point.

Crawfordsville, IN: Rotary Jail Museum that still rotates, November 17th 2019. Accessed November 17th 2019.

'Hedrick, Nick. Escape room opening at rotary jail, February 13th 2019. Accessed October 8th 2019.

Morton, Ella. Carousels of Criminals: The Revolving Jails of the Midwest.