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Wilson Jail

Wilson Jail

Location Class:
Built: 1907 | Abandoned: 1963
Status: Restored
Photojournalist: William Coolidge

On May 10th, 1907 a contract was let between the owners of the nearby Powers and Tobias Building, W.B. Power and Joseph F. Tobias and the City of Wilson. The contract outlined the construction of a water tower for the city for fire and sprinkling and leased a tract of land eighteen by eighteen feet. The contract was good for 99 years or as long as the City of Wilson were to use the building. As payment for the lease of the land the City of Wilson provided free water to the Powers and Tobias Building. Construction on the water tower didn’t take long with a two-story cylinder-like structure being erected within the year. Built of large cut native stone blocks, one entry doorway on the ground floor and three windows. On the second floor were a supply tank and pump to transfer the water both have since been removed.

In 1956 the building took a rather unusual new purpose, as the Wilson jail. The bottom floor was redesigned to house petty criminals with bars added to the window, a sink, and toilet facilities. Used mostly as a drunk tank or a holding cell for those waiting to be transported to the county jail. The building was used as a jail until 1963 when the brand new fire station/jail was built and there was no longer any use for the building. But all use for the building might not have been over, it’s been alleged that at some point the building was rented to a man by the city for just a dollar so that he could have temporary housing.

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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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