Mulvane Jail

Location Class:
Year Built: 1897 | Year Abandoned: ~1930s
Status: AbandonedRestored
Photojournalist: Emily Cowan

There has long been speculation over when this jail was built with dates in between 1883-1885 being thrown out there but according to government insurance maps and newspapers, this jail first appeared in 1897. The Mulvane jail was something envied by nearby country towns as it was a two-cell jail with thick limestone walls. Each stone was hand chiseled from a quarry nearby. At one point it had a large wooden divider between cells that was removed later. The original large oak door had the initials T.I.A Dec. 23, 1899 carved into it perhaps by an inmate.

After it was done being used as a jail for the drunk and disorderly and other petty criminals sometime around the 1930s it was used as storage for the Mulvane Electric Plant. As the electric plant grew they needed a larger storage shed thus the jail was torn down and the stones moved by the Santa Fe tracks. Before its dismantling, the historical society took its measurements and numbered each stone in hopes of one day rebuilding it. As the stones sat grass grew up around them making the area untidy, the city complained to the railroad who rebutted saying they couldn’t mow because of the large stones. The city workers then came and retrieved the stones taking them to the new sewer plant being built and used them to fill in around one of the lagoons. Around 1981 the town began looking for the stones to rebuild the jail and were having no luck in finding them until they finally got someone to say they were at the sewer plant.

This angered some on the historical society and they demanded the city dig up the stones. But city administrator Ed Elam said that task could cost the city $3,000. The city did as the society wished but were unable to locate all of the stones, new ones would be used to fill in the gaps. Workers spend two weeks in July 1984 reconstructing the jail near the old Mulvane Depot that now housed the town museum.

Some stories that involve the jail are included below:

The Evening Kansas-Republican 30 Aug 1909 – An attempted wreck of No. 18 is said to have been made last evening south of Mulvane. However, two freight trains preceded 18 and it was the last of these that prevented an accident. This second freight was stopped by the engineer who saw a tie lying across the track. He knew that another freight had just passed and that the person who had placed the tie there had not had much time to escape. He therefore started on a search for the wreckers and chased a man through a cornfield where he caught him and lodged him in the jail at Mulvane. When asked the purpose of his attempt to wreck the train he foolishly said that he was feeling sick and wanted to stop the train to catch it.

The Wichita Eagle 26 Nov. 1931 – Four men held in the Mulvane jail on charges of “hoboing” were defendants in a state warrant issued in city court here Wednesday, on a complaint of a Sante Fe inspector. They are H. Grandstopher, John Sigo, Joseph Masters and Walter Rinderberg. The specific charge is entering a freight car and riding therein.

Gallery Below


“20 Jul 1982, 36 – The Wichita Eagle at”,

“20 Jul 1982, 37 – The Wichita Eagle at”,

“26 Nov 1931, 2 – The Wichita Eagle at”,

“30 Aug 1909, Page 1 – The Evening Kansan-Republican at”,

“4 Aug 1984, 44 – The Wichita Eagle at”,

“5 Aug 1897, 5 – The Sumner County Star at”,

“Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Mulvane, Sumner and Sedgwick Counties, Kansas.” The Library of Congress,,0.008,1.527,1.181,0.

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