“The Last Jail on the Northampton Court Green”
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.
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. 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.
Northampton Historic Preservation Society
P.O. Box 501
Eastville, VA 23347