The building in which the Old Jail Art Center is housed was constructed in 1904
around an existing stone and brick jail built between 1857 and 1859. The first plans for the building were submitted
by Fremont Stevens, but those plans were rejected and architect C.A. Krutsch was selected instead. The contract
for construction was awarded to David Y. Johnson on February 9, 1904 to build a jail and sheriff's residence using local
limestone. The building was to be finished by October 15, 1904 and the cost was $31,448. The style chosen was Romanesque
Revival, reminiscent of castles in southern France. To pay for the jail the commissioners decided to issue bonds. Rudolph Kleybolt bought all the bonds
for $34,174.70 on April 4, 1904; the county was to repay them within 20 years at 4% interest annually.
Stewart Jail Works Company of Cincinnati was subcontracted to provide iron work; many of the old doors still bear the Stewart
Jail Works logo. The jail included two identical floors of cells, a basement level with a more open cell plan, and a
second floor women's jail of two to three cells (a wall appears to have been knocked out to turn two earlier cells into
one large one).
The completion of the jail in 1905 was five months late. The commissioners accepted it on March 2,
1905. There is no record of any penalty being assessed against the contractor for the delay in completion, although according
to the original agreement the contractor was supposed to pay $25 a day for each day past October 15, 1904 that construction
According to James Guthrie's book Thirty-Three Years in the History of Lawrence County,
by 1917 "the county had one of the better jails of the state, less than 20 years old, strong and safe. Inmates
were segregated by sex and all slept in hammocks. The jail had three cells for women and a juvenile department.
The building was lighted by electricity and heated by the Interstate Public Service Company's hot water system.
Regular religious services were conducted for inmates by both the Women's Christian Temperance Union and Salvation Army."
1990 the Lawrence County Jail moved to a new facility at 15th and I Streets in Bedford, and the building was sold to
the first of a series of private owners. The present owners, the Cross-Najafis, purchased the property in 2005
and took occupancy in 2007. The Old Jail Art Center was born a year later following a modest renovation of the old dispatcher
and prisoner intake rooms.