Marion County Jail, 19??-2013
The old Marion County Jail passed away Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, after a short battle with an excavator owned by Pearson Construction Company. It is survived by the courthouse, the extension service annex, and the new law enforcement center.
Genealogical research was inconclusive: several county officials thought the jail was built in the early 1930s, but the appraiser’s office shows it was built in the 1940s. Whenever it was built, it had multiple additions over the years. The latest addition was in 1981, which added dispatch to the jail.
For most of its life, the jail was also the home of the sheriff. Mike Childs was the last sheriff to live in the jail. At the time, meals were prepared in the kitchen of the living quarters, typically by the sheriff’s wife, Sheriff Rob Craft said.
Jessie Nikkel recalls visiting her aunt and uncle, Lois and Sheriff June Jost, when they lived at the jail.
“Aunt Lois would cook for the inmates and I would get to help deliver,” Nikkel said. “We’d put the plates on the old pulley from the kitchen and then go upstairs to get it out and deliver.”
Craft said the typical inmate count at that time was two or three people, and often none at all. He said the sheriff’s living quarters were converted into office space in the late 1980s under Sheriff Ed Davies, the first sheriff who didn’t live at the jail.
The inmate population rose steadily since the 1980s, necessitating a larger and more modern jail to accommodate more inmates. County voters approved replacing the jail in March 2011.
The jail retired in 2012 with plans to relax as an office and storage building, but issues with asbestos, mold, and old utilities scuttled those plans.
– Adam Stewart