Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Celebrate Fairview jail's 100th anniversary

After Fairview’s incorporation as a city in 1908, the newly elected city government was busy.

“For some reason in 1915, they started passing a flurry of ordinances,” said Lael Larger, East County Historical Society member at large and former board member. “All these ordinances (included) fines or the possibility of jail, but (the city) had no jail.”

So later that year, the Fairview City Jail was built just to the side of old Fairview City Hall at 60 Main St. OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The historic Fairview Jail is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and the East County Historical Society would like to see the structure placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“At the time it was considered state of the art,” Larger said of the original City Hall, built just three years prior in 1912. “It had a really nice dance floor, and people came from all over the county to use the dance floor.”

The jail’s 100-year history will be celebrated from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19. The public is invited to take part in the celebration, which includes tours, refreshments and photo opportunities of the defunct jail.

The jail is 10 feet by 20 feet, and 8 feet tall, holding two cells. Larger noted that what is especially interesting about the jail is that at the time, Mayor E. A. Whitney ran on an anti-vice platform, despite the lack of vices in the city itself.

“The rule was there was no alcohol to be used or served in this town (when it was set up),” she said. “They didn’t have a big problem.”

Based on her research, Larger thought those decisions can be attributed to growing pains.

“It came out of the city growing up,” she said.

Once built, however, the jail was rarely used. Rumors have circulated of the jail being used to hold pranksters overnight, but Larger said she only found one entry in 1916 of an actual arrest.

“They held him overnight in the little jail and then turned him over to the sheriff,” she said. “But there’s no mention of what kind of crime he committed.”

During the Great Depression, the jail was used to house homeless people. At some point, there was also a man jailed for breaking into a store and drinking vanilla extract for the minor amount of alcohol it contained.

Once it was abandoned in 1962, store owners would sometimes rent the jail for storage.

These days, the East County Historical Society (ECHO) oversees the jail, which is open intermittently for tours. In conjunction with the anniversary event on Saturday, Larger and ECHO are working on an application to place the building on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It’s something I’ve kind of been working on for the last several years, but I have a lot of other projects, so it kind of gets put to the back burner,” she said. “But recently we’ve put a surge to get this in for Nov. 2.”

The historic register committee meets three times a year. In order to get on the list for consideration in January, the application must be submitted in November.

“That’s what we’re shooting for,” Larger noted.

The focus of the submission will be the history behind the jail, rather than what it was actually used for.

“The significant part about it was the fact that Fairview was really a very small city, mostly a farming community, but once they became incorporated, they started having these growing pains,” she said. “They started making all these ordinances and thought it was important that if jail was part of the penalty, they need to build a jail.”

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.