The Last Jail on the Northampton Court Green
NHPS is in the process of fundraising to restore the Northampton 1907 Jail for use as a museum. When it opens, complete with exhibits, the 1907 Jail will be the 5th and final stop in the NHPS Court Green historic building/exhibit self-tour covering the complete governance of one of the oldest settlements in Virginia and the country. Other buildings on the tour include a 1731 Courthouse, c.1800 Clerk's Office, c. 1814 Debtors prison, and an exhibit in the 1899 Courthouse (now County Administration Office).
The exhibits for the jail museum will tell the stories of Northampton prisoners and county lawmen, explain changes in County incarceration philosophy over time, and explore construction methods for all the jails that stood on the Court Green. It will also feature a Genealogy Research Center to help visitors learn ways to take advantage of the "longest, continuous county court records in the country" found in the nearby Northampton Clerk's Office.
Your help is greatly appreciated!
Northampton Historic Preservation Society Awarded $50,000 Challenge Grant
from The Cabell Foundation to Restore Northampton Court Green 1907 Jail
The Northampton Historic Preservation Society (NHPS) is pleased to announce that The Cabell Foundation has awarded a one-to-one $50,000 challenge grant to support the restoration and preservation of the 1907 jail building on the Northampton County Court Green in Eastville, Virginia. The Society plans to use the 1907 Jail as a museum to recognize the history of all the jails that once stood on the historic court green.
This project will complete a five-building combination of exhibits and buildings reflecting Northampton County governance over the past three hundred years. The existing self-guided tour includes an overview of the Northampton Court Green history in an exhibit room of the 1899 Courthouse (now County Administration Building) and exhibits in the 1731 Courthouse, the Old Clerk's Office (ca.1800) and the Debtors Prison (ca.1814). The addition of the 1907 Jail Museum will become the fifth stop on this educational tour.
Northampton Court Green buildings showcase architectural styles from the last three centuries and provide informative exhibits for students, academicians, and other visitors about activities that took place on the historic court green. With the restoration of the 1907 Jail, the Northampton County Historic Court Green is certain to be one of the most intact and restored court greens in the country. In order to receive The Cabell Foundation challenge grant, NHPS must raise $50,000 in cash and pledges.
The Cabell Foundation challenge grant relies on community involvement through contributions to support preservation efforts! Every gift counts! One-time or monthly donations may be made with the donation button below. Contact Mike Ash at 757-678-0963 or email: email@example.com for more information about the project or to discuss your pledge, contribution, or becoming a sponsor.
Northampton Historic Preservation Society Receives 2019 Grant from Virginia Humanities to Produce Jail Video
The Northampton Historical Preservation Society received a grant to produce and deliver a documentary video to recognize the historical role of the recently demolished 1914 Jail and other Northampton County jails that stood on the Eastville Court Green. The Historical Society is pleased to acknowledge that this video was made possible with the generous support of Virginia Humanities.
The all-volunteer Northampton Historic Preservation Society is continually working to educate the public
about the history of Northampton County, Virginia.
Please consider becoming a member of NHPS or donating to our efforts!
Premiere of "The Last Jail on the Northampton Court Green" at Cape Charles Palace Theatre
Dr. Carl Lounsbury, Architectural Historian, hosted the July 28th event at the Cape Charles Historic Palace Theatre. The video began in a time when jails were just a holding place for court trials and immediate punishment. In the video, Dr. Lounsbury explained the progression of jail methods of construction, types of prisoners, and the treatment of prisoners.
In the video, Eastville Mayor James Sturgis provided an overview of the economic growth that funded the construction of a cutting edge, early 20th century jail in a rural and isolated Eastern Shore. Transforming attitudes toward incarceration led to better prisoner treatment and healthier conditions. Smaller cells, areas to congregate, and modern utilities were included in the 1914 Jail.
Twentieth century manufacturing techniques improved security. County enforcement officers and leadership provided a tour of the 1914 Jail and discussed how it functioned. The new and improved ideas for the treatment of prisoners introduced in the 1914 Jail served the county for close to 100 years. It was the last jail "built"on the historic Northampton County Court Green.
However, there is still one "last jail" standing on the Eastville Court Green that was built in 1907. The video also features the 1907 Jail as well as the 1914 Jail and the NHPS hopes to restore the 1907 Jail for use as a museum for all the jails that once stood on the historic Northampton Court Green.
To see a ca.1932 salesman's sample of a similar type of system that was used at Alcatraz - CLICK HERE.
1914 Northampton County Jail Locking Mechanism
The cases were opened before demolition to view the inner locking mechanisms for three cells. The jail had 4 sets of these on two floors. This was "cutting edge" technology for its day. This type of locking mechanism was used about 14 years later at the Indiana jail where John Dillinger escaped and 20 years later at Alcatraz. The last slide at the bottom of the page shows the cell locking controls that would allow for 1, 2 , or 3 cells to open separately or all at one time. Below Mike Ash and Dr. Garrison Brown examine the closing fixtures.
Northampton Historic Preservation Society
P.O. Box 501
Eastville, VA 23347