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Hoyt Jail

Hoyt Jail

Location Class:
Built: 1911 | Abandoned: N/A
Status: Restored ~2017
Photojournalist: Kerri King Lana Dillner

In March of 1911, The Hoyt Sentinel reported, “There has been a rumor in circulation that the city paid $300 for the two old creamery lots. The fact is the city has not invested a dollar in lots. Mr. [Ernest] Pringle offered the lots for $75, so the city would have a place for a pound to build a Hoyt jail, which the city will need sooner or later. There is a well on the lots, worth nearly as much as the price asked for them. Now, for argument’s sake, say the city did buy these lots for $75, and a good concrete jail can be built for $150, that would make $225. We have about 300 people in Hoyt. That would be about 75 cents apiece, or if we took two years to pay for them that would be 37 1/2 cents apiece. The best one of these lots could be sold for $50 and that would stand us but $25 for the one lot.” John Wallace was then awarded the contract for constructing the calaboose. On May 11, 1911 excavations for the foundation were made with rapid progress after to complete the structure. It is made of concrete with a barrel roof, containing one cell and two windows on each side. In January 1914 the Hoyt City Council ordered a wood stove be put in the city jail which still exists today. This was to prevent those staying from freezing during the winter months when temperatures fell below freezing at night.

Per an ordinance from February of that year it was established that, “When any person shall be arrested in the night time by the Marshal or Policemen, with or without process, such person shall be committed to the City Calaboose until the morning session of the Court..” This was a common use for tiny jails, merely holding cells for petty thieves, drunks or those needing to be transported to the county the next day.

Years ago when Lana Dillner took over as the City Commissioner of Hoyt parks she thought to herself, “Too bad this place doesn’t have a nice place to sit and enjoy.” This started her journey of making the Hoyt Jail something to experience rather than just view. She had found money that was donated years prior for a bench in Robinson Park that was never used. Using social media Dillner found a gentleman named Greg Johnson who made benches out of wood and inquired about having one made using a local tree. This was just the beginning of the journey as she thought to herself again, “As I sat on the bench I thought well, we need more to look at.” She brought flowers from her own yard and created two huge flowerbeds along the north side of the historic jail. She nurtured Iris’s, Daylilies, Live Forever’s, a Crabapple Tree, Ninebark bushes, Rose Sharon and more. And still, she had more ideas for the property, “I wanted something in the SE part so I had the Horticulture class at the school bring in the dirt for a berm. I had a wishing well planter that had never been used moved to the SW corner. I wanted to put dirt in it but our city guy said it would rot in no time so I got a large planter and fixed it in there so now we have flowers there.” The park has been a go-to for Eagle Scout projects, one taking place soon to redo the pebble walkway to the jail with stone. The journey seems to be continuing still with plans for a cleanup of the flower beds and the addition of a cement picnic table in the Spring of 2022.




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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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