Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Kewaunee County Jail

The available histories on Kewaunee County don't provide much information on the founding of the county or the subsequent building of the jail.  The county was partitioned from Door County in 1852 and Kewaunee was named the county seat.  Elections were held, a board was put into place and in 1856 they held their first meeting.  Shortly after the county organization, building were erected in Kewaunee for government use and served for a time. In 1873 a substantial court house was constructed and in 1876 the county hired William Waters to design a Sheriff's residence and jail.  The concept of combining the sheriff's residence and jail was not uncommon in the Midwest and was seen in several Wisconsin counties.
The jail was of Italianate design very much in vogue at the time.  The brick building employed a transverse layout with a symmetrical front elevation.  A central portico and ornate canopy covered entry with a window above dominated the front.  On either side of the portico were large window on the first floor and petite windows above.  A noteworthy feature was the board and batten siding which formed a frieze just below the eves which were supported by large brackets.  The hipped roof had a flat top with a low balustrade around the perimeter and several chimneys   On the back side was the jail wing of the structure.  The fenestration consisted of small bared windows along the sides.  The wing had a  low sloped hip roof with a large chimney at the center of the back wall. The building was used until 1969 and survives to this day as a museum.  It's had minor alterations with the removal of the canopy, steps and a chimney. This is one of three Waters' designed structures to be converted to museum use; others being the Rogers' residence or "Hearthstone" in Appleton and the Edger Sawyer's residence, now the Oshkosh Public Museum.  

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