Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First Salem Jail

First Salem Jail
Walking up Main Street in Old Salem north of Winkler Bakery you will visit the A. Butner Hat Shop. Does it look like a Jail to you?

Adam Butner, best know as operator of Salem Tavern, started out as a hatter in a shop constructed in 1825 on Main Street North of Winkler Bakery. Following the incorporation of Salem as a town on March 10, 1857 the new board of commissioners rented the former Adam Butner Hat Shop on Main Street at $30.00 per year to be used as a “Hall and Watch-house.” (This building was reconstructed by Old Salem, Inc. in 1965 and operated as an adjunct to the bakery, before opening as a museum retail store in 2008.) F. Fries was commissioned to build a lock-up in the lower part of this building of 12 feet square of 2 inch oak planks with a good and substantial iron-grated door.

June 23, 1857 – The Board met for the first time in Commissioner’s Hall. Desks, chairs and benches had been purchased and installed and the walls of the building whitewashed.

April 7, 1858 – Since the lockup below the Commissioners Hall was probably the most secure building in Salem, it would have been used for holding slaves as well as criminals. At this meeting the Mayor proposed rules for use of the lockup by slave owners including the amount they were to be charged for feeding and the responsibility for cleaning the lockup when they left.

This building being inadequate, discussion was started almost immediately about building an appropriate building but wasn't addressed for many years.

During the Civil War in 1862 a Mr. Hughes requested to use the Commissioner’s Hall for cutting cloth for soldier’s uniforms. The request was granted. In January 1864, the agreement with Mr. Hughes was rescinded since Hughes was not cleaning up the Hall before the Commissioner’s were supposed to meet.

Former Jail Building as Reconstructed Left of Winkler Bakery

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