Old county jail project starting to take shape

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Tribune editorial staff

Monday was a benchmark day for the Old Lawrence County Jail Committee, the people of Burlington and Lawrence countians in general.

After 10 years of dreaming, hoping and lots of hard work, the vision of some members of the Burlington community came to fruition - the renovation of the old jail was officially dedicated as the county's bicentennial project.

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The old stone jail was built before the Civil War, when Burlington was still the county seat. When county government was moved to Ironton in 1851, the old buildings at Burlington fell into private hands, changing ownership many times over the next century and a half. Last year, the county purchased the structure from Juan Lawson, and grant money has been secured to buy property adjacent to the structure.

The old jail is the only one of the county's original government buildings left standing. Work is under way to renovate the aging stone structure and turn it into a museum that would showcase the county's Civil War -era history.

Since the jail is the last remaining structure identifying Burlington as the first county seat, it needs to be put to good use

If all goes as planned, the old Lawrence County Jail will one day be a showcase of the village's and county's heritage. The old jail is a link to our past that many could only experience in text books and folklore. It will provide county residents and visitors an opportunity to learn about the trials and tribulations people faced on the road to freedom.

And, judging by the turnout for Monday's event - and the enthusiasm that was in the air - we can expect the project will not be brushed under the rug. Many people want to see this project through to the end, and some are willing to make unlimited donations of their time to see this happen.

Hats off to Dave Milem, Harriet Ramsey, Wilma Fox, Virginia Bryant, Betty Burcham, the rest of the jail committee, commissioners, the CAO and all others who have had a hand in this worthwhile project. It is wonderful to see residents of the county getting behind it.