Making everything old new again

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2006

BURLINGTON — Johnny Nance hammers a few nails and then steps back to survey his work.

With every nail and pane of glass, the man known as The Old House Doctor is doing his part to bring the Old Historic Jail at Burlington back to life.

Nance began installing the door and window jams in March and began installing the new 19 sets of windows Monday. The windows were specially ordered and made to look old, harkening back to the days when the jail was, well, the county’s place for prisoners.

Email newsletter signup

They were purchased through donations from area residents Charles Leach of Burlington, Gene and Debbie Bragg of Ironton, Eddie Hagley of Sheridan, Rick Viglianco of South Point, Dave Milem of Burlington, the Lawrence County Genealogical Society and the Lawrence County Medical Society.

Nance is not only pleased with his own work, he is also pleased, he said, to be rehabilitating such a fine old building.

“This is probably the finest sandstone work I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I’ve been in this line of work 30 years and this is just incredible.”

And still sturdy after all these years.

“Every opening in this building is within one-eighth inch of being dead- on square,” he said.

The new windows and doors are part of a long process of restoring the old stone jail that will later be used as an underground railroad museum. This is the only structure that still exists from the days when Lawrence County’s seat was Burlington.