Visitors tour old sheriff's house, jail

By Joseph Slacian

Visitors from around the area stepped back in time Friday night, Aug. 3, visiting the old Wabash County Sheriff’s house and jail at 31 W. Main St.

The visit, part of the August First Friday celebration, was sponsored by Indiana Landmarks.

Indiana Landmarks seeks to preserve various historic buildings around the State of Indiana. The organization was given the building in March 2017 by Wabash County Commissioners.

The move came after about one year of looking for a buyer for the building, which was listed on Indiana Landmarks list of the 10 most endangered buildings. In addition to giving the building to Indiana Landmarks, the county also gave the group $75,000 that commissioners had set aside to demolish the building.

“We were targeted originally to do just the exterior restoration on the building,” according to Paul Hayden, director of Indiana Landmarks’ Northeast District office.

The next phase in the project is still undecided. Landmarks may look to sell the building and let the new owner decide what to do with the interior, or the group may remodel the interior itself and move its Wabash office there.

“The second phase we’ll have to decide what direction we’re going,” Hayden said. “Possibly, our offices may go in here. If so, we’ll have to get enough money to then restore the interior. Or, we can put it on the open market. Most likely, it will probably be professional offices.”

Built in 1880, the structure housed the Wabash County Sheriff and his family in the front of the building, with two floors of six jail cells each in the rear of the building.

“Given the location, probably the best use is a professional office,” Hayden said. “We’re thinking about putting it out on the open market and let the market determine the best use for it. If not, after six months or so, we’ll very seriously look at moving our offices here. It’s not been decided yet.”

The old jail was one of two projects Indiana Landmarks was working on in the City of Wabash.  It also has been working to restore the Albers House at 45 E. Sinclair St.

“It’s the same sort of scenario” as the old sheriff’s house, Hayden said. “We had taken a loan to restore the outside only. The interior is virtually untouched.”

Built in 1848 by Philip Albers and his brother, Jacob, the home is considered to be one of the oldest in Wabash.

An open house is planned at the site in October.

“There’s a lot of history between the two properties,” he said. “People seem to have a lot of interest to see, and we’re glad to share it.”

Posted on 2018 Aug 07