The Jefferson County Jail at 300 Coffeen Street, 1910 – 1993
Built in an era when most establishments in its vicinities were of same named by “House,” e.g. The Oakland House across the street, this was one place you didn’t want to spend a night. And what better a location than across from the lower Court Street region, aka Watertown’s Red Light District? The new Jefferson County Jail constructed in 1909 and opening in 1910 assured the continual placement of a jail in the same location, atop Coffeen Street from land donated by Henry Coffeen himself, since 1805.
Upon its completion, it was reported in the Watertown Daily Times and other publications by wire:
The new Jefferson County Jail has been completed and the prisoners have been transferred from the old jail to the cell room in the new structure. The new jail is a most modern building of its kinds with the best steel cells. Locked by a patent device and concrete floors making it both strong and sanitary. A good ventilating system has been installed, so the prisoners will be given plenty of good air.
One year later, in 1911, five persons escaped the jail and were charged with “jailbreaking.” Attorney E. R. Wilcox, representing one of the escapees, Charles Pratt, said, in his defense, that his client “could not well be charged with jailbreaking inasmuch, as he had simply walked out.”
While the structure stopped functioning as a jail back in 1993, it’s still stands today in 2021 and is home to Old Jail Antiques.