Bill says . . .

It definitely would not have been a replacement for "The Old Stone Jail." The architect and the men of the committee were all between 30 and 40 years old when the jail was completed in 1880. I don't think they were looking to replace a jail that had been so recently built. Pittsburgh architect Thomas Boyd was in his heyday, designing a number of Kentucky courthouses. But so was Louisville's H. P. McDonald, who actually built the jail in 1880. And he designed the Carroll County courthouse that was built in 1884.

So did McDonald build the jail to Boyd's specifications, to scaled back ones without a jailor's residence, or to a fresh one of his own design? Without having the plans on hand it's hard to say.

McDonald built the Boone County courthouse. There is some little info in this document about him.

Here's some info I found online about the Old Stone Jail at Carrollton. How accurate it is, I couldn't say. I don't know much about the jail:


The first place of confinement was a pair of stocks setup July 9, 1799 - on Water Street (one street below Main between what is now Fourth & Fifth Streets). At that time a stay in the stocks punished gossiping and slander!

The former jail had experienced several breakouts and was condemned on January 2, 1877. It was ordered that a new jail be built and a tax of 10 cents per $100.00 property valuation was levied to raise funds. Enough money was raised by January of 1897 to start the jail project. H.P. McDonaldson [sic] bid the contract and won. On March 1, 1880, the Stone Jail was turned over to Carroll County by the jail committee with the words "(we) now present to you the keys to the BEST PRISON in Northern Kentucky" Thanks to local students of the Community Pride 4-H group, one hundred and four years later (1984) the Old Stone Jail was renovated and is once again in use, but this time for tourists.

The stone for the jail came from a quarry in Louisville and was brought up the Ohio River by boat. The steamboat bringing a load of stone was stuck on a sandbar in the river, (this was before the river was kept at pool stage by locks and dams as it is now) and the boat had to stay on the sandbar and wait for the fall rains to bring the water level high enough to float it off the bar (three weeks).

The Old Stone Jail is a 22'x20' two story structure. The walls of the jail are constructed of solid 16'x20' limestone slabs. Windows or light openings average 3 1/4 in width. Door widths measure 19 1/2 x 20 1/2. All interior surfaces of the stone have a rough hammer finish leaving an uneven surface.

The ground level was used for men. There were four interior cells of equal size with a perimeter walk way. A pot-bellied stove was the sole source of heat. The openings in the walls did not have glass in them while the jail was in use. There were shutters that were hung during inclement weather from cork posts in the walls. The upper level was used for women and children and was identical to that of the ground level. The under-ground level was used for solitary confinement. The prisoner was shackled in by their limbs and sat on the dry laid brick floor.

There were several attempted escapes from this old stone jail. Once the prisoners tried to blow it up by throwing gunpowder into the pot bellied stove. Large chunks of stone are still missing from the wall where the stove stood, through the explosion never fully penetrated the thick stonewall. Another time, a prisoner tunneled his way out to the courtyard only to find the jailers waiting to re-arrest him.

The jail was in use for almost ninety years, until the late 1960's when the jail was deemed inadequate to meet Kentucky prison standards [built in 1880 and used until 1969].

The Old Stone Jail was scheduled to be torn-down and was rescued by the Community Pride 4-H Group. This group of students spent endless hours cleaning and making the jail available for visitors to tour. In the fall of 1983 Carroll County received a 50/50 matching grant from the Jobs Bill Act through the Kentucky Heritage Council to perform a historical renovation of the Old Carroll County Stone Jail.


from an email to us from Bill Davis. Thanks, Bill.