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Forgotten Bluffton: the town jail

You've walked past this door and probably never gave it much thought

Door to the Bluffton town hall jail

You’ve walked past this door and never gave it much thought. It’s one of the oldest pieces remaining from the original 1887 town hall construction. What do you suppose is behind the door?

The answer today is a brick wall. The original answer was the town jail.

As you can see, there’s plenty you don’t know about the Bluffton town hall. And, we’ll get to much of that in future columns.

For now, let’s talk about the jail, which, you may have never known existed in the first place.

The jail was located in the corner of the town hall’s first floor opening to Elm Street. It was behind the room housing Bluffton’s famous 1920s-era fire truck that kindergarteners today ride in during Fire Prevention Week. Can you believe that?

Today, on the town hall’s second floor police department there exists a holding room for persons under investigation, but it’s nothing like the original jail on the first floor.

This writer recalls peeking into the jail during an elementary class tour of the building in the late 1950s. I seem to recall two very small cells with black metal bars. And, a door.

While the outside door leads to a brick wall today, once upon a time, it was outside door to the jail. And, historic-minded people kept the door in place with its original door lock, for us to admire today.

The town hall had many renovations in its 133-year history. The jail was part of the original structure, as you can see in an early town hall photo below.

Prior to the 2007-08 total renovation of the building, the jail portion of the building was remodeled and became the village administrator’s office. Larry Core, Steve McFadden and Jamie Mehaffie had the pleasure of going to jail every while on the job as village administrator.

The photos accompanying this story show the outside door today, plus some photos taken inside during the 2007 renovation and a pre-automobile day photo of the building.

Today, the town hall jail is simply a part of forgotten Bluffton.

Town hall today


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