Salem Jail

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Salem Jail (the older portion) was built with county money in 1813 on the corner of St. Peter and Bridge Streets, for $80,000, with a house for the keeper. It was thoroughly remodeled and enlarged in 1885.

A state mandated rehabilitation of the main building was completed over a 12 to 18 month period in 1980, after inmates sued over needed improvements primarily concerning fire safety.

The three story brick residence adjacent was used by the Sheriff who was also the keeper of the jail. It was known as the "jailer's house" or the "sheriff's house." The building had some interesting details. It featured a hipped roof and the work of Samuel McIntire, reknown woodworker. After being used by the sheriff for years, it was being used more recently as offices.

The "jailer's house" suffered damage from a four-alarm fire in 1999, thought to be the work of vandals. The city received a state grant to fix up and stabilize the jailer's house in 2000.

In late 1990, after the new Middleton Jail was completed this older building was shuttered.

In 2009, the Salem Jail was converted to condominiums. A prison-themed restaurant opened in the old jail on Sept. 2010, called Great Escape Restaurant.

For information on the Old Witch Jail, follow this link.

SalemJail fr.jpg

See Also

Postcard image courtesy of

Vertical File in Salem Collection - Salem Jail

Illustrated history of Salem and environs p. 177-78

Architecture in Salem by Bryant Tolles, p. 114-115

Annals of Salem by Felt, vol. II, p. 468-69

"Jail turned restaurant opens" Salem News, Sept. 21, 2010, p.?

"The dungeon left behind; Officials cut ribbon in an historic event" Salem Evening News, Dec. 15, 1990, p. 1

"$900,000 jail rehabilitation begins" Salem Evening News, May 21, 1980, p. ?

"Prisoners transferred to new jail" Salem Evening News, Feb. 18, 1991, p. 1

"Cause still unknown in jail building fire" Salem Evening News, July 12, 1999, p. 1

"Locked into history: Salem Jail makes ten most endangered historic resources list" Salem Evening News, Sept. 26, 2000, p. A1

"Old jail on former Prison Lane has new look and new purpose" (letters to the editor) Salem News, Nov. 26, 2010, p. 8