By GINA KINSLOW
Glasgow Daily Times
An effort is under way to return a historic building in Metcalfe County to the way it looked at the turn of the 20th century.
The Metcalfe County Historical Society is in the process of renovating the building that once served as a jail in downtown Edmonton.
The building is located on East Street off the public square near the Metcalfe County Justice Center.
“It’s really an unusual building and it’s just a shame to let it sit there,” said Kay Harbison, president of the historical society.
The two-story structure, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1861 and is of early Romanesque Revival style. It is constructed of blocks that are 24 inches wide and 20 inches high on the first level and blocks that are 20 inches wide with decreasing height on the second level, according to the National Register of Historic Places’ narrative description.
The building was used as an actual jail up until the 1980s, before being closed permanently.
Renovation work is being done in two phases. The first phase will involve replacing the windows, iron bars on the windows and the electrical wiring.
Thomas Brothers Construction received the bid for the work.
“Right now we are replacing the windows,” said Harbison. “A lot of the windows have been blocked up or concreted up, so we are opening all the windows, putting wooden windows back in, keeping with the time period.”
New bars are being installed on the windows because many of the original ones have rusted through or have been patched several times.
“We’re saving any that can be [used],” she said. “There may be one or two that may be salvageable, but most of them will have to be totally redone.”
As for the electrical work, Tri-County Electric has installed a utility pole near the building so the construction company workers can see, but the rewiring of the building is not slated to begin until after the first of the year.
Work to replace the windows will begin in the next two to three weeks.
“They [the windows] had to be special ordered and then they were stained and a preservative put on them,” Harbison said. “So there should be some work seen in the next two or three weeks around the jail. Work has been going on, but it has been behind the scenes.”
The first phase is anticipated to cost about $43,000, she said.
The second phase will involve the removal of the duct work and the modern plumbing, the scraping of the interior walls so they may be painted, the painting of the exterior roof, the uncasing of a staircase so that it will be open as it once was and the installation of a banister.
The top floor of the building will remain as it is. The building still has cells that were constructed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The bottom floor being used as a type of county archives.
The work is being done a little at a time when the historical society has the money to fund it.
The organization received a $10,000 donation from Edmonton State Bank, which was matched by the Metcalfe Fiscal Court to help finance the project.
The historical society also hosted a book fest in the fall and managed to raise about $500.
In addition, historical society members have been soliciting donations from local business people and selling calendars featuring pictures from long ago of Metcalfe County. The calendars are still available for $10 each and can be found at the Edmonton-Metcalfe County Chamber of Commerce office, the Metcalfe County Public Library, the Metcalfe County Extension office, Metcalfe County Drugs and the Edmonton Herald-News office.
There has also been talk of having some type of fundraiser in the spring, but plans for it have not yet been finalized.
“We’ve still got a lot of money to raise,” Harbison said. “We would be glad to take donations from anyone who may have Metcalfe County roots and would like to make a donation.”
Historical society members are hoping to have the building open to the public two or three days a week when the renovation is complete.
Local officials are pleased that the historical society members have stepped up to renovate the building.
“Any time you can preserve some of your past history, I think it’s good,” said Edmonton Mayor Howard Garrett, adding older Metcalfe County residents will remember when the building was actually used as a jail. “It’s always good to preserve our past.”
Garrett’s great-grandfather, Creed Garrett, was a jailer when the building was still used as a jail.
Metcalfe County Magistrate Greg White thinks the local community will enjoy comparing the renovated building to the way it once looked. He also hopes it gets a lot of use.
“I’d like to see people use it and enjoy it,” he said.