The Hays County Jail’s Moveable Jail Cell in San Marcos is one of nine sites that a statewide preservation group has named to its ninth annual list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places.
The moveable jail cell was constructed for the Hays County Jail in Kyle and, today, it is a rarity of its kind. The cells were referred to as a “calaboose,” the Spanish word for jail, and were constructed using the cribbing method where the walls are arranged in sets of logs or timber in a log-style cabin formation to create a rising rectangle or square.
The jail cell remained in use until 1925 as Kyle’s city jail and, later, was moved to the Texana Village at Aquarena Springs. Due to lack of funding, the jail cell along with other buildings and artifacts were removed from the Village. At the eleventh hour, the jail cell was saved and moved to its current location at the San Marcos Academy.
The jail cell is a valuable piece of Hays County history but for generations it has been shuffled around the county. It needs a permanent home where it can be restored and appreciated, Preservation Texas argues. Local advocates are working to raise funds and to increase public support to preserve the moveable jail cell in order to tell a broader story of the county’s history.
“Preservation Texas hopes this listing will bring statewide attention to the efforts of Hays County and other local communities struggling to find a way to preserve rare and valuable pieces of their history, such as the moveable jail cell,” said Jim Ray, president of Preservation Texas, Inc., a statewide partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Preservation Texas officials announced the selection on the steps of the Texas State Capitol on March 22.
“The 2012 list highlights historic places that were once commonly found around Texas and that are almost gone or that represent rare construction types. In each instance these places are integral to the communities where are they located, yet they are in immediate danger of disappearing from the landscape,” he continued. “By calling attention to theses sites now, we want to encourage action while there’s still time.”
Ray also noted that moveable jail cell, and several other sites on the 2012 list, reflect increased awareness of the importance of historic preservation in small communities. “Passion and determination in these communities are strong, but suburban expansion, coupled with lack of resources and professional guidance present serious challenges,” he said.
Sites receiving the Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places designation receive one-on-one consultation in such areas as technical assistance to identify preservation needs and set priorities, fund raising expertise, and assistance in fostering partnerships and building community support
The complete 2012 list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places includes:
Preservation Texas, Inc. is a statewide nonprofit organization that advocates for preserving the historic resources in Texas. Preservation Texas named its first list of endangered historic sites in 2004. For several sites, inclusion on the list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places has resulted in energized conservation efforts, commitments for restoration, and additional funding. Among the sites that have recently benefited are Heritage Plaza, part of the City of Fort Worth’s 112-acre Heritage Park, and built as a project of the Fort Worth Bicentennial Committee (2009 list), and the Austin Woman’s Club, designed by San Antonio architect Alfred Giles (1853-1920) in 1874 with a history of strong ties to Austin’s political and cultural growth (2010 list).
Preservation Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places program is funded by generous grants from the Burdine Johnson Foundation, Texas Historical Commission, and the Partners in the Field Challenge grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and our sponsors.
For more information on Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places, visit the Web site at www.preservationtexas.org, or phone Preservation Texas, Inc. at 512-472-0102.
This story originally was printed in the Hays Free Press.Email | Print