Grant Will Preserve and Tell History of Northampton 1907 Jail

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The Northampton Historic Preservation Society plans to restore Northampton’s 1907 jail, on the courthouse green in Eastville, and use it as a museum. Photo by Stefanie Jackson.

By Stefanie Jackson – The Northampton Historic Preservation Society has received a $50,000 grant to restore the 1907 jail on the county courthouse green in Eastville.

“This time it is our turn to save this 113-year-old structure for future generations,” states the historical society’s website.

Members will follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, who saved Northampton’s 1700s courthouse and 1800s clerk’s office and debtor’s prison in 1913.

The Cabell Foundation, of Richmond, Va., awarded the one-to-one matching grant, which will be used to convert the 1907 jail into a museum recognizing the history of all the jails that have stood on the Eastville courthouse green.

That includes the 1914 jail that was demolished in 2017 and inspired the documentary film, “The Last Jail on the Northampton Court Green,” which premiered July 28, 2019, at the Palace Theatre in Cape Charles.

The film discusses artifacts saved from the 1914 jail, including the main door to the jail cell block, which featured a unique locking system similar to the one used at Alcatraz.

“The Last Jail on the Northampton Courthouse Green” is the second in a series of short documentaries made by the historical society. The first film covers Pear Valley, a historic farm dwelling known as the 1740 yeoman’s cottage. A third film is planned.

Both completed films can be viewed on the Northampton Historic Preservation Society website, www.northamptonhistoricpreservationsociety.com

The 1907 jail will become the fifth stop on a self-guided tour available to visitors of historic Easstville and its courthouse green, where more than 300 years of architecture and history can be observed and studied.

The other four historic buildings on the tour are the 1731 courthouse, the circa 1800 clerk’s office, the circa 1814 debtor’s prison, and the 1899 courthouse, which currently serves as the Northampton County administration building.

For more information or to donate to the Northampton Historic Preservation Society, visit the website or contact President Mike Ash at 757-678-0963 or nhps100@gmail.com