Sabine County Historic Jail Museum Repairs Approved | Way of life
(Sabine County, Texas)
The Sabine County Historic Jail Museum has been closed for nearly a year. Damage from the 2021 ice storm damaged the museum and made it unsafe for visitors. Without intervention, the historic building would probably not survive much longer. The library and museum are owned by the county.
After exhausting several grant options to repair the structure, commissioners agreed on Monday to fund the project. The cost will be $22,000.
Sabine County Historic Jail Museum, names still etched in paint
The names are engraved on the walls of the tiny cells upstairs. Who knows how many people served time in the historic Sabine County Jail. Recognizing some of the surnames is indeed a little scary. The large red-brick structure stands on the west corner of the courthouse plaza serving the county for nearly 80 years. If the walls could talk, they would have incredible stories to tell. Once prisoners get to the second floor, the raw iron bars and tower on the third floor look a bit like a dungeon from a European countryside.
The “Noose” still hangs from the ceiling below the tower, and from the outside it appears as a magnificent piece of architecture. From the inside, the third-floor tower is an eerie reminder of the past. How lonely it seems to stand at the foot of the gallows and the cold concrete walls.
Handmade bricks were used in the construction of the Old Sabine County Jail, which began in 1903. The jail was completed in 1904 and remained in use until 1983.
“The Sabine County Historical Commission received permission in 1986 to restore the jail and operate it as a museum,” said local historian Weldon McDaniel.
One of the standout features is the interior suspension installations. “Other gallows have existed in various places in the courthouse plaza, but no remnants of them remain. An exterior gallows stood just outside the Texas Street entrance to the prison museum “, did he declare. McDaniel added that a cast iron panel on the main entrance vestibule wall marks the location of the lever that released the hatch.
The noose hanging from the tower must have served as a deterrent, as only one hanging is confirmed. “In 1922, a man named Mr. JL Snell was hanged on the rope for slitting his daughter-in-law’s throat, when he disliked the way she worked in his field. A piece of the rope used in the hanging is on display in the museum’s Speights-Boswell-Vanderbilt room,” McDaniel said.
Upon entering the Historic Sabine County Jail Museum and Vergie Speights Memorial Library, the “Bull Run” is the first room. “Visitors can see the original trap door, once located under the prison noose, just above the door above the spiral staircase leading to the prison cells.
After Texas banned hanging as a death sentence in 1924, the prison’s hanging facility could no longer be used. McDaniel said rebar was installed through the hatch opening and the opening was cemented.
In the years since the opening of the historic Sabine County Jail Museum, many descendants of pioneer families have donated treasures, household items, farm implements, pictures, documents, newspapers and other artifacts, resulting in a rather impressive collection.
The Sabine County Historical Jail and Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is located in the Sabine County Courthouse Plaza. Admission is free, venture out and take the tour.