Macoupin County Jail in Carlinville, Illinois (1869-1988)
The historic 1869 Macoupin County Jail was designed by E.E. Meyers. It was built using the "cannon ball" method which prevented jail breaks by making it nearly impossible to remove the blocks. This unique medieval-inspired fortress housed many lawbreakers during its 119 years of use, but only one prisoner escaped. He was soon apprehended a few blocks from the jail.
The interior is designed in the "jailer residence" style, a popular 19th century prison design, requiring the jailer and his family to reside in an apartment above the jail. The cell block ceiling, walls and floor are constructed of one-inch iron plates with 20 inches of solid stone above and below.
The jail was built to house 16 male prisoners and one female, but at one time it held 33 prisoners, four of whom were accused murderers. This historic structure was finally retired when the new county jail was built and dedicated in 1988.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.
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