For individuals interested in learning more about Delaware County’s Historic Jail and Sheriff’s Residence located in downtown Delaware, the local historical society will host a free program at 7 p.m. on April 19 at the Barn at Stratford.
Delaware County Historical Society Board President David Hejmanowski will present the program. Preregistration is required and tickets may be reserved by visiting www.delawareohiohistory.org.
Attendees will learn about the iconic Italianate-style building, which was constructed in 1878 by Master Architect David Gibbs of Toledo. It contained 16 cells for men and two for women, and the building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1990. The 8,500-square-foot building was used as a jail until the current jail opened in 1988 on U.S. Route 42. In October 2021, the historical society purchased the old jail from Delaware County.
The Delaware County Historic Jail and Sheriff’s Residence is a prime example of a unique prison type which was invented as an economic alternative for the county jail system during the late 19th century. The front portion of the building served as the sheriff’s residence and the rear cell block as a jailhouse. This distinctive ornate architecture and innovative design allowed the sheriff’s wife (called the matron) to serve the prisoners meals and care for them, saving the county money by not having to support both the jail and sheriff residence as separate buildings. Plus, cooking for the inmates was certainly a cost saving measure (though a newspaper article from 1932 reported that Sheriff Veley Main was admonished by the state auditor for lavishly feeding inmates a diet that included such delicacies as mango, goose liver and coconut).
Hejmanowski has been judge of the Probate/Juvenile Division of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas since February 2015. He is also a member of the Ohio State Bar Foundation’s Board of Trustees and president of the Delaware County Bar Foundation. He has written a weekly column on law and history for The Delaware Gazette since 2005. Additionally, he serves on the boards of the Central Ohio Symphony and the Strand Theatre and Cultural Arts Association.
The Delaware County Historical Society is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote, preserve and sustain interest in the history of Delaware County. The Barn at Stratford is operated by the Delaware County Historical Society as an event venue for weddings, corporate meetings, and other special occasions. To learn more, visit the venue and society websites at barnatstratford.org and delawareohiohistory.org.
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