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frederick jail

Frederick Jail

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Built: N/A | Abandoned: N/A
Status: Abandoned
Photojournalist: John Wise

The Frederick Jail is an amazingly preserved example of a single cell jail from the early 1900s. These small jails were typically made of concrete, built to last decades and deter the most rambunctious prisoners from escaping. These cells were oftentimes called calabooses, hoosegows, or bastilles along with city jail. These were used to hold criminals that committed smaller crimes such as drunkenness, petty theft, and disturbing the peace. Most were discontinued throughout the 1930-50s when they were used almost solely as drunk tanks. Comfort was not in the design plans for these tiny jails, prisoners melted in the blistering heat and most of the time had nothing but wool blankets in the winter. If the city had enough money when the jail was built some included a heated stove but not many.

This one in particular shares a design I haven’t often seen of creating an actual cell within the building. Most calabooses would use the entire building as the “cell” instead of having metal cages inside to separate them from the building. The reason for the design could be to allow space for a jailer to sit and keep watch over the prisoners or allow for use of both spaces to increase capacity.




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Emily Cowan

Emily is a two-time published author of "Abandoned Oklahoma: Vanishing History of the Sooner State" and "Abandoned Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World". With over two hundred published articles on our websites. Exploring since 2018 every aspect of this has become a passion for her. From educating, fighting to preserve, writing, and learning about history there is nothing she would rather do.

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