Bardstown, Kentucky’s old jail is a real trip back in time

Thick walls and narrow windows of the jail

Thick walls and narrow windows of the jail

Bardstown, Kentucky is in Nelson County and is in the heart of the Kentucky Bourbon industry. Bardstown is also home to one of the oldest jails in the area. The original jail structure (now called the front jail) was erected in 1819 and was used until 1874 to house prisoners. In 1874 the “back jail” was built and held inmates until 1987. During this time the front jail was the jailer’s residence. The facility is now a Bed and Breakfast using the rooms in the old residence.

The history of this place is fascinating. You can (for a fee) take a tour of the back jail, with many of the jail cells untouched since the last prisoners left in 1987. There are original photos, some of which show the last hanging that took place in 1894 in the yard in back of the jail.

The structure is quite the fortress! The walls are every bit of 30 inches thick with large metal bars covering the narrow windows. There are mason’s marks on the huge stones where hooks were used to move them into place during the construction. The original wall surrounding the back yard is complete with massive solid metal gates.

There are some nice RV parks in the area, including My Old Kentucky Home State Park. Be sure to check out the old jail and the other attractions in and around Bardstown.

Hood and shackles for the 1894 hanging

Hood and shackles for the 1894 hanging

Back of the jail where the gallows were for the last hanging in 1894

Back of the jail where the gallows were for the last hanging in 1894

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