- Built by the same company that built Alcatraz.
- Funded by Henry Flagler.
- Designed to look like a Victorian home.
- Scary night tours available with Ghosts and Gravestones tour.
This historic jail served the city of St. Augustine from 1891-1953. Visitors can take tours of the jail during the day or night, experiencing history as inmates in period dress guide them through the women’s cells, men’s cells, and the maximum security cells where only the most dangerous criminals were kept. Chilling night tours are provided with the Ghosts and Gravestones tour offered by the Old Town Trolley. Hear unique stories about individual inmates that once occupied the cells of this historic jail, and acquaint yourself with the sheriffs that presided over it.
Tickets are available on-site and online. Please arrive 15 minutes priopr to the departure of the tour as all tours leave promptly. Nights tours are 30 minutes long, and are offered through the Ghosts and Gravestones tour. The site also includes a depot for the Old Town Trolley, The Oldest Store Museum, The Florida Heritage Museum, and a gift shop. The Old Jail is open all year except on Christmas Day.
In 1891, with the opening of his Ponce de Leon hotel, Flagler wanted to ensure a safe and pleasant environment for his patrons by creating a secure fortress to house criminals. It was important to Flagler that the exterior appearance of this fortress wouldn’t disrupt the majestic atmosphere of the Ancient City. In order to accomplish this, it was designed with a Romanesque Revival style that gave it the distinct appearance of a Victorian house without the interior comfort and charm. It was almost unrecognizable as a jail apart from the barred windows.
Also, the original jail was too close for comfort at the time, so Flagler asked that the new jail be built at a further location. P.J. Pauley Jail Company, the same people responsible for building Alcatraz in San Francisco, were employed to construct the prison. The jail served the city of St. Augustine until 1953. It held some of the most violent and masochistic criminals and carried out capital punishment on a set of gallows on the property.
In 1954, only a year after the jail closed, it was transformed into a local attraction. The building underwent restoration in 1993 by owner Henry L. “Slim” McDaniel. Today, the Old Jail provides guests to St. Augustine with a glimpse into the history of the penal system and the daily life of its prisoners. The St. Augustine Old Jail was added to the U. S. National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
The Old Jail is located on San Marco Avenue, north of Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum.
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