Wilkesboro in Wilkes County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
The Old Wilkes Jail
The Old Wilkes Jail, built in 1859 and used as the county jail until 1915 is one of the best-preserved examples of nineteenth-century penal architecture in North Carolina. Most important is the survival of its primitive security, including the front door which contains nails an inch apart so that a prisoner would not be able to saw his way out of the building. Access to the cells is through the original iron and wood doors. The iron bars remain on the windows, as well as the primitive sanitary devices in the upstairs cells. Four rooms on the south side of the building were used as the jailor's living quarters. The four rooms opposite were all used as cells and at least one was used for female prisoners.
Some of the more infamous prisoners to the old jail included Tom "Dooley" Dula and Otto Wood. Tom Dula was arrested for the murder of Laura Foster in 1867 and incarcerated at the old jail until his lawyer, former Governor Zebulon B. Vance, had a change of venue and moved the trial to Statesville. Otto Wood was known as an escape artist and had reportedly escaped from 10 prisons by the time he was shot and killed in 1930. The Old Wilkes
The Old Wilkes Jail was restored to its original form in the late 1960s by Old Wilkes, Inc. (now Wilkes Heritage Museum, Inc.) and opened as an historic site in the mid-1970s. Today the Old Wilkes Jail is part of the Wilkes Heritage Museum with guided tours offered Monday through Friday beginning at the museum. For more information: 336-667-3171 or www.wilkesheritagemuseum.com
• This image shows the deplorable shape the Old Wilkes Jail was in prior to being restored in the late 1960s.
• The photograph on the left shows the restored kitchen on the jailor’s side of the building.
• The photograph on the right shows the inside of Tom “Dooley” Dula’s cell.
Sponsorship of this sign was provided in part by the Town of Wilkesboro.
The North Carolina mountains and foothills were designated the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area in recognition of their natural beauty and living traditions of music, craft, agriculture, and Cherokee culture. This location is part of a regional trail of distinctive heritage sites. Ask for information at area visitor centers.
More information online at: www.blueridgeheritage.com
Erected by Blue Ridge National
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Architecture • Law Enforcement • Notable Buildings. A significant historical year for this entry is 1859.
Location. 36° 8.961′ N, 81° 9.155′ W. Marker is in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in Wilkes County. Marker can be reached from West North Street just west of North Bridge Street, on the right when traveling west. Marker and jail are located near the Yadkin River Greenway trailhead. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 203 North Bridge Street, Wilkesboro NC 28697, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Captain Robert Cleveland Log Home (here, next to this marker); Early Food Preservation (a few steps from this marker); Robert Cleveland Log Home (a few steps from this marker); Old Wilkes County Jail (within shouting distance of this marker); Wilkes County Confederate Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Colonel Ben Cleveland (within shouting distance of this marker); Wilkes County Courthouse Annex (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Tory Oak (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wilkesboro.
Regarding The Old Wilkes Jail. National Register of Historic Places #71000628.
Also see . . .
1. Old Wilkes Jail.
Built in 1859, the Old Wilkes Jail held Union prisoners and stored Confederate provisions and ammunition during the Civil War. The Old Wilkes Jail served as a working North Carolina jail until 1915, when it was sold and its rooms were converted into rental apartments. It was scheduled for demolition in 1968, when the nonprofit organization Old Wilkes, Inc. stepped in and purchased the property, restored it to near authenticity, and opened it to the public as a museum in the 1970s.(Submitted on February 18, 2022, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. Old Wilkes Jail.
Tom “Dooley” Dula, the subject of the well-known folksong, was one of many colorful characters to be incarcerated in the historic 19th century jail, part of the Wilkes Heritage Museum.(Submitted on February 18, 2022, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 18, 2022. It was originally submitted on February 18, 2022, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 142 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on February 18, 2022, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.