Our First Jail
The first jail was constructed in 1822. It sat beside the first courthouse
on Ohio Avenue facing the courtsquare. The log cabin jail was too small and was sold after
4 years when a second facility was built in 1826 on the southeast corner of the square.
Our Second Jail
The second jail was also made primarily of wood and would serve for 13 years
until it was destroyed in 1839 by fire. The third was built to withstand flames. Made of
rough stone and brick, it was torn down when a new facility was built in 1875.
Prior to its destruction, it housed the only locally executed person, a
Rumley man, Alfred Artis, who was convicted of killing his 12 year-old daughter, Emma.
Artis was incarcerated in February, 1854, and held throughout his trail. He kept Emma
cruelly chained in a shed beginning in November, 1853, during the winter months until she
died due to the deprivation of food, water, and clothing. Local witnesses testified as to
Emmas abuse with her father placing an iron collar around her neck and beating her
with a pole. The severe cold caused Emmas hands and feet to freeze as well.
It would take two juries and a little over a year for the authorities to
convict Artis. A deputy sheriff constructed a special set of chains to hold the man known
throughout the area for his unusual strength. On the day of his execution, Artis refused
to climb the stairway of the scaffolding, so he had to be beaten and dragged up to the
gallows. A large crowd gathered and watched this history-making public execution.
Our Third Jail
In 1875, the Victorian Italianate jail was built at a cost of $38,600. It
was designed for two uses; the front portion would serve as the sheriffs residence
and the rear cell block as a jailhouse. The ornate brick structure features panels and
paired brackets lining the frieze of the low-pitched roofline. Stone hoodmolds, bracketed
sills and quoins at the corners complete the ornamentation. The rock-faced stone cell
block attached to the east side is an original feature.
Next to the jail, to the east, is a two-story Romanesque Revival steam
plant that still supplies power for the Jail and Courthouse. It was originally built apart
from the Courthouse to eliminate the danger of explosion and/or soot discoloration to the
newly-built facility. When the Great Flood hit in 1913, an emergency hospital
was established in the upper portion, giving this building the distinction of housing
Sidneys first hospital. The jail facility was closed in 1994 when a new building was
completed on Gearhart Road.
Our Fourth Jail
The "old" Shelby County Jail was
located at 203 East Court Street was actually the fourth incarceration facility in Sidney,
Ohio. The building still remains and in use for storage. The
building is on the National Historical Register.
Our Current Jail
The current Correctional
Facility is located at 555 Gearhart Rd. and was built in 1994.
It has the current capacity to hold 173 inmates (both male
and female). It was built in a "pod"
design to allow easy growth in and when that time ever occurs.