Old Jail Art Center

Our Landmark Building

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The Former Lawrence County Jail And Sheriff's Residence, Bedford, Indiana

"Cherry Red Lipstick" Filmed in our Old Jail
A group of talented Indiana University students filmed a music video, "Cherry Red Lipstick",  in our building in March 2011. The majority of the video is shot in the jail basement, formerly used for juvenile detention, from which the interior cells have been removed. The scenes involving doors and interior bars were shot on the main floor of the jail. The graffiti dates to the jail's being used as a haunted jail at Halloween by a previous owner. The broken-headed mannequin lost her head in service to this video and will be greatly missed. 
The video, which includes mature themes and language, can be viewed at the link below.

Early morning, as viewed from the east in 2007. Nearby construction has obliterated this view.

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. 
The 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 was delayed.
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." 
In 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. 

The trains on J Street stopped last summer after more than a century.
Here's what the first room of our art center looked like before January 2008.
Here's what the same room looks like today.

This was the living room in the late 1940's.

Here's the living room today.

Help preserve our Lawrence County landmarks! Support the Lawrence County Museum and BRI's Historic Preservation Committee.

Old Jail Art Center * 1002 17th Street * Bedford, Indiana * USA * 47421 Phone: (812) 606-1758

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