Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Old Bullitt County Jail, Shepherdsville, Kentucky

Located in downtown Shepherdsville, Kentucky, this neat sandstone structure is the former Bullitt County jail.  Constructed in 1891, the jail was in constant use until its replacement in 1947.  Originally built in an open area, it has seen the community grow up around it, and nowadays it is nested in the backside of another county building.

Visible as a black square in this photo, the old jail is surrounding on three sides by the new county building.
Other side of jail, facing city street.  The benches are a modern addition.
Built over a period of a few months in 1891 at a cost of $4,000, the jail was a surprisingly long lived structure.  In use for 56 years, the 22 foot square structure was designed to hold a total of 16 people, four each in its for cells.  Lighting and ventilation was provided by the narrow slit windows, and water and toilets were not installed until the 1930s.

Door of jail, constructed of plate steel, riveted together.  This heavy door is original to the structure.  Note the large crank handle located to the left of the door.
Interior door, located just inside the plate door.  By opening the main door but locking this one, inmates could receive extra light and ventilation.  The silver colored repairs are evidence of escape attempts over the years.
Interior shot, showing the hallway.  Two cells are located on each side, and the small stove was to provide heat.
This complex looking screw mechanism opened and closed the doors on one side of the hallway.  When the exterior crank handle was turned, the screw would push or pull on this mechanism, opening or closing the doors.
Another shot of the door mechanism, attached to each of the two cell doors.
Interior of one cell.  The bed is a more modern addition.
Another cell, featuring wood bunk beds. 
An original window grill, replaced during a restoration done recently.  The replicas mimic the original exactly.
Interior shot of cell, showing these window grates.  The walls are constructed of sandstone slaps that are almost two feet thick.
Located on the outside of the jail, this small cell was supposed to be a "hotbox" for punishing bad prisoners.  I am suspect.
The door on the right is supposed to have been an earlier fireplace, used to heat the building.  According to the legend, the warmth generated by the fire would create discomfort for the rowdy prisoners, without putting them in mortal danger.  It looks more like a wood storage locker to me.
Another exterior shot, showing the encroachment by modern buildings.  Not the chisel and drill marks on the soft sandstone, still left from its construction.
A shot of the historical plaque on the side of the building.  If you are in the area, its worth seeing.  It is unlocked during normal business hours, and features a tape recording that plays when you walk inside.
For more information, check out this page about the old jail at the official website of the Bullitt County History Museum.

To keep up with our posts, be sure to "Like" us on Facebook or follow us on blogger.  Thanks again!


  1. There's one just like this in Bedford, Ky and it was still in use about 10 or 20 years ago. There was a woman in there screaming to people outside. For all I know they still might be using the archaic structure.

    1. We've seen the one in Bedford, it's pretty cool. Its on our list to visit again, and would be neat to get inside at some point.