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luray jail

Luray Jail

Location Class:
Built: 1916 | Abandoned: ~1970s
Status: Abandoned
Photojournalist: Kip & Mary Thorson

The Luray jail cell was manufactured by E.T. Barnum Iron Works a reputable jail company in the frontier days. It is a single cell made of strap iron with two pull-down beds. The cell while unsure just exactly when it was ordered sat in the City Building off Main Street for many years. It was mostly used as a drunk tank and holding cell for those waiting to be transported to the county jail. It was last used by an inebriated occupant in the late 1970s-80s.

In the late 1990s, the City Building had a growing hole in the roof and a ton of items at risk of being ruined by its collapse and the elements. With nowhere else to put the items the only option was to have a city auction on August 17, 1996, the Old Luray City Jail was one of the items to be auctioned off. At the auction, a gentleman named Gordon Mast of Waldo purchased the jail moving it to Waldo. This is where the confusion comes from about the cell being from Waldo. After Mast passed away at his estate sale, Jack O’Leary wanted the jail but did not bid and the cell ended up going to a man in Hutchinson. Jack couldn’t stand the thought of the Luray Jail cell not being in his possession and not in the town, he reached out to the Hutchinson gentleman and purchased it. The cell was then moved to sit at the Yellow Dog Saloon, back in Luray once again. It was cherished by the O’Learys and the town even using the cell once for the local Friendship Day event.

Unfortunately, after years Jack made the decision to sell the jail. Kip and Mary Thorson, owners of the renovated 1930s Shady Grove Cabins in Downs, purchased the cell in 2019 from the O’ Leary family. When asked what their interest in the jail was the Thorsons said, “We just like old unusual things. The MOTEL sign out front of the property came from the old Rock City Motel in Minneapolis, KS. We have been in the antique business for thirty years and gravitate to the odd and unusual.” It is amazing that this piece of history along with the cabins and so many other unique things have been saved and preserved so wonderfully by Kip and Mary Thorson.



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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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