San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

July 27th, 2011
Jailhouse Rock gala to benefit historical restoration

STAFF REPORT

Elvis will be in the building Sept. 24 to provide entertainment for the “Jailhouse Rock” fundraiser benefiting the 1884 Hays County Jail restoration project.

jail_MLKsideTickets and sponsorships are now available for the gala event, which will take place from 7-9:30 p.m. on the grounds of the old jail on Fredericksburg Street, just behind the Calaboose Museum on the corner of Fredericksburg and MLK Drive.

Sponsored by the Hays County Historical Commission, “Jailhouse Rock” will feature food, drinks and entertainment by premier Elvis impersonator Ralph Elizondo. Individual tickets are $50, and sponsorships are available at various levels starting at $250.

The county jail was constructed in 1884 by Edward Northcraft, who also built Old Main on the Texas State University campus. The two-story building served as the county jail from 1885 until 1937. During that time, four sheriffs presided over the jail, and the only official hanging in Hays County took place just outside its walls. The building, which once housed two members of the famous Newton gang, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

After many years of neglect, restoration of the old jail began in December 2010 through efforts of the historical commission. Phase One of the project, involving stabilization of the walls and foundation, has been completed. A new roof and window lintels were also added during this phase.

The next step will be to restore the windows, doors and front porch of the jail, with interior restoration set to be the final phase of the project. When completed, the 1884 jail will be utilized as a county museum with photos and documents about the jail’s history and other exhibits related to Hays County’s past.

The first phase of restoration was funded through a donation from the Burdine Johnson Foundation of Buda along with other private donations and county funds. Additional funds are needed to complete the project, which could cost as much as $1 million.

“The benefit of restoring this wonderful, historic building is that we will eventually have a museum that will tell some of the stories of our great county,” said Kate Johnson, the commission’s chair. “We hope many Hays residents will plan to attend our Jailhouse Rock event to see the restoration work that has been done so far and help us move forward with the remaining phases of the project.”

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