Jail, 1950s (History of the Town of Hillsborough)
Circa 1930 photo, view north across the Eno River. The jail is the two-story building to the right.
While a handsome Neoclassical Revival building, previous reports of this building's demise have been greatly exagerated. Stuart Dunaway notes in his "History of Town Lots - Addendum 2015" rather emphatically that "the building shown on the post card does not exist today."
The building was constructed in 1925-26 as a replacement for the old (fifth) jail and Mayor's office (with its jail cells) that stood to the south of the 1845 courthouse on courthouse square. The architect was Milburn, Heister, & Company (of Durham), and the contractor was W. H. & T. H. Lawrence (also of Durham). The plumbing contract was awarded to John L. Foister, the heating to T. C. Miles, and the electrical to the Clinard Electric Company. The jail cells and related security features were constructed by the Pauly Jail Building Company of St. Louis, MO.
From the September 11, 1925 Chapel Hill Weekly:
“This building will embody the most modern ideas in jail construction. It is to stand just to the east of the courthouse and across the street. On the exterior it is of Colonial design, with brick walls and a columned porch, harmonizing with the courthouse. The plans of the architects, Milburn, Heister and Co., show the entrance from the broad front porch to a reception hall. On the left of this is the living room. Back of these two rooms are the jailer’s office and the kitchen. Above, at the front of the building, completing the accommodations for the jailer and his family, are the bedrooms. A brick wall, stretching from the top to the bottom of the building, separates the family quarters from the jail section on both floors. On the upper floor the wall is not broken at all. On the ground floor it is broken by one steel door leading from the jailer’s office to a corridor, and across this corridor is a steel barrier beyond which are the cells. On each floor the cell section is fitted out with ample baths and sanitary facilities, and there are corridors for promenading. In the basement are located the heating plant and a room for confiscated property. Confiscated property, in this section of the country, consists almost entirely of stilling apparatus.”
From the February 12, 1926 Chapel Hill Weekly:
“The contractors for the new jail in Hillsboro are expected to turn the completed building over to the Orange county authorities by about the 15th day of March—certainly by the 1st of April. The outside walls, roof, chimneys and cornices are complete, and the carpenters are now engaged upon the inside finishing. All of the steel for the cell blocks is on the ground...and the steel fitters from the Pauly Jail Co., which has the contract, will start upon their part of the job next week. The heating and water system is nearly finished; the heat has been turned on for about two weeks now. Altogether the building has gone ahead smoothly, with few complications or delays."
The jail was first occupied in May 1926.
1943 Sanborn map, showing the county jail.
The structure was damaged in an explosion/fire on May 3, 1974, when a fuel delivery truck (driven by Johnny Edwards) was filling the jail's 1,000 gallon gasoline tank and the tank leaked and was ignited by a spark. Luckily, nobody was killed or injured. There was approximately $15,000 to $20,000 worth of damage to the structure.
Looking south, May 3, 1974 (photo taken by Harry Moore of The News of Orange and is via www.orfd.net)
May 3, 1974 (photo taken by Harry Moore of The News of Orange and is via www.orfd.net)
May 1974 (photo taken by Harry Moore of The News of Orange and is via www.orfd.net)
From the National Register nomination:
"Constructed as the Orange County Jail, this impressive two-story, Neoclassical-style building faces the Orange County Courthouse to its west, but has been significantly enlarged and altered at the north and east. The building is three bays wide and six bays deep with four brick pilasters supporting a wide entablature and a pedimented gable on the façade. The pediment has a denticulated cornice and bulls-eye window with brick voussoirs and keystones in the gable. Two-bay-wide, pedimented wings project slightly from the right (south) and left (north) elevations and there are two interior brick chimneys. The building has nine-over-nine and six- over-six wood-sash windows with a single eight-over-eight window on the left end of the second-floor façade. The nine-light-over-one-panel door on the right end of the façade has a four-light transom and is sheltered by a full-width, hip-roofed porch supported by square columns with a denticulated cornice at the roofline and a low railing at the second-floor level. A number of windows on the side and rear elevations have been bricked in or boarded over. A one-story, flat-roofed wing on the left elevation connects to a two-story, front-gabled brick wing with a pedimented gable which connects in turn to a two-story, side-gabled wing with an inset entrance on the north elevation and a one-story, flat-roofed addition at its rear (east). The building has also been enlarged in 1996 with a series of one- and two-story, flat-roofed sections at the rear, one of which connects to a large gabled wing with projecting gables along East Margaret Street. The side and rear additions have nine-over-nine windows and there is a metal fire stair at the north end. The east addition has a wide cornice and small six-light windows at the basement level. Historically, the deputy lived in an apartment above the jail.
07.31.2016 (G. Kueber)
The 1925 builder's plaque (photo by S. Rankin, 02.10.2022)
The Chapel Hill Weekly, September 11, 1925.
The Chapel Hill Weekly, February 12, 1926.
Lloyd, Allen A. and Pauline O. History of the Town of Hillsborough 1754-1966. Self-published.
The News of Orange, May 5, 1974
Sandbeck, Peter. A Brief History of the Old Orange County Jail, built 1925-26. OCDEAPR, 2014.