This interesting structure is located on State Highway 55 in the center of town and on the east side of the road facing south. One informant referred to it as the former city jail but others have espoused different opinions such as a hotel, ice house, and saloon. The date of its construction is not known but the poured in place method was most common from about 1908 through the 1920s and later in some areas.
The floor plan consists of three rooms side by side. The room on the far right has a small window (30″ x 32″) with four round metal bars placed vertically in a wooden frame.
The middle room has a large window (36″ x 67″) to the left of the portal where the door would have been. At the time of my visit, there was a metal bed in the center room but it is not known if it is original to the building. There are three horizontal boards on the walls but their purpose has not been identified. There is no window on the north wall.
The room on the west side also has an empty portal where the door would have been. It has two windows. The one on the west side measures 33″ x 69″ and the one on the back wall measures 37″ x 69″.
If this building was the local jail, the most likely scenario in my opinion is that the room with bars, and perhaps the middle room, was the cell and the large room with spacious windows was an office for law enforcement.
Front of Building with Small Metal Door
This tiny structure is in Bellville and stands next to the old two-story county jail that is very similar to the one in Cameron (Milam County). It has been modified and is currently used as storage. The date of construction is not known but it was sometime after 1906 based on the available Sanborn maps. It has doors at each end and that floor plan also exists in some known calabooses such as those in Cameron and Grapeland. There is a metal door on the wall that opens into the interior. This could have been used as a way to pass food and other objects to prisoners without opening the main door. The two doors suggest that there were two cells. So far, nobody has been able to identify its original function with any degree of certainty. Small buildings with two rooms next to courthouses were sometimes built as restrooms but the function of the tiny metal door on the front of a restroom seems out of place.
(Red River County)
This structure is described by town officials as part of their water plant system. Its size and windows with bars are the reasons I place it in the suspicious structure category at this time.
(Deaf Smith Country)
This image was taken from the internet. Glenrio is a ghost town with a number of interesting structures and this one strongly resembles other documented calabooses.
This tiny building is believed to have been a calaboose but it is described here as a suspicious structure pending confirmation of the opposite. An elderly resident of Huntington remembered it as a place where drunks were put overnight but he did not equate it to a jail.The only window is on the back wall.
The window seems rather large for a calaboose but the size of doors and windows varied a great deal in calaboose construction. Also, it could have been enlarged to allow for the installation of the equipment depicted in this picture.
I am less certain that this was the local calaboose but other purposes for a building of this size elude me at this time. There are two doors and that suggest a bathroom in a different location. Should it be a former calaboose, two cells would make sense. The door appears to be old but it does not have the appearance of any I have seen on a calaboose to date.
The interior has been divided into three rooms with modern cinder blocks making it difficult to ascertain the original floor plan.
Jourdanton was made the county seat of Atascosa County in 1910 following the two previous county seats in Navatasco (1856) and Pleasanton (1958). Ed Blackburn, Jr. (2006:25-26) cites a court testimony by P. B. Winn in 1937 who stated that the first jail he remembered as a child in Pleasanton was a log building where he lived when his father was the jailer. After the county seat was moved to Jourdanton, a rental house was used as the local jail until the elaborate county jail was built in 1915 at a cost of $20,000 and it is still standing.
The building depicted above is very similar to others that have been proven to be calabooses. The size is correct and the floor plan matches that of others such as those in Cameron and Grapeland. There is a door at each end and two windows on either side. If this was an actual calaboose, the most probable scenario would be two cells with a wall in the middle. The floor plan depicted below is for the calaboose in Grapeland. It is presented here to show the similarity between the two.
Because the current doors are obvious replacements and the windows are covered with plywood, this building remains suspicious for now. Rhonda noticed iron between the top of the windows and the plywood covering. We are currently attempting to document the original purpose for this building.
I was told by a local informant that there used to be a calaboose in Paige near the railroad tracks. This tiny building is the only likely candidate in the area. It is locked and privately owned so I have no knowledge of its original function.