The original Parke County Sheriff's office and jail that stand on the Rockville Square served the county from 1879 to 1998. For most of that time it also served as a residence for the sheriff and his family. The Italianate building is of brick typical of the late 19th century with a porch that was added in later years. The porch served a great purpose around the turn of the century as an outdoor living room and social center and, being this close to the sidewalk, the sheriff and his family could sit out on the porch and greet passers by. The window trim and heads on the structure are unusual in that they are pointed rather than arched. The cornice still has the bracketas but the proportions are substantially different. The downstairs windows were bricked in back in the day but since then have been allowed to let the sun shine in again. Behind the jail is the boiler house that was something of a forerunner in the technology of the times because it used hot water heat that heated not only the sheriff's office and jail but was piped underground through a tunnel to heat the courthouse as well. The jail, courthouse and boiler room were designed by the same architect from Fort Wayne, Indiana, Thomas J. Tolan and Son.
One of the first sheriffs to live in the jail was John Davis. He was appointed sheriff of both Parke & Vermillion Counties. He was commissioned on March 12, 1883, and served one month and ten days before dying while in office. Austin Pruett then served from April 22, 1833 until August 18, 1833 when William Kilgore was commissioned. Kilgore served two terms. The term of office changed from two years to four in 1950. Earl Dowd, Jr. was the first sheriff to be elected to the new four year term in 1950. He served two terms and later was elected Parke County Prosecutor and later, Circuit Court Judge.
Some of the closest elections for sheriff include those of Jacob P. Smith (D) who won in 1926 by only 16 votes. Fred Botts (R) gained office by 122 votes in 1948.
The only sheriff to be killed in the line of duty was William D. Mull, who along with Deputy William Sweem were shot by Alfred "Pete" Egbert. Egbert, who apparently was insane, also killed a woman and two children and then committed suicide. The sheriff and his deputy died in front of the Nation Bank on the Rockville Square on April 25, 1896.
More current history....
In 1978 there was a huge fire that closed the jail, remodeling was done and it was reopened in 1979. Prior to this date the sheriff and his family lived downstairs. After the fire, two cells were put downstairs. The sheriff and family moved upstairs where the rotating cell was originally located.
Three eras of cell bars still remain in the jail today. The bottom cell bars are from 1979. The single cells (6) and the two cells upstairs (Harley Davidson & Bonnie & Clyde Suites) are prior to 1979 . Downstairs in the basement houses the original "drunk tank" which boasts two iron gates and two windows circa 1879.
The two sheriff's suites on the main floor today were once home to the womens or work release cell and the other served as booking room. This once was the room where you were fingerprinted, weighed, measured and your pockets emptied. A single small steel stool was the only piece of furniture in the room.
The building to the north of the jail is now the "Old Jail Coffee House", used for all the guest to enjoy a great breakfast after a night in jail. The coffee house has beer and wine for you to enjoy on the patio also.
The downstairs "drunk tank" area has been renovated into a winery. "Drunk Tank Winery was opened in August of 2011. Come for a wine tasting or buy a bottle of "drunk tank wine". This is an adult only area.
Come be a part of history today at The Old Jail Inn-Parke County!