Hagerstown in Washington County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Washington County Jail
The new jail was built on this site on Jonathan Street. It was a one-story jai built of limestone, rough-casted outside, and enclosed with a wall on the north, west and south. The original entrance to the jail was through a house facing on Jonathan Street which was used as a residence for the sheriff and his family. The new jail started taking prisoners in 1826-1827. One of the first prisoners to occupy the jail was Sheriff George Swearingen who was elected sheriff in 1827 and convicted of murdering his wife in 1828.
The jail was destroyed by fire in 1857 and rebuilt in 1858. The last major renovation to the jail occurred in 1888 when a brick second floor was added placing steel cages over the old arched cells. The last hanging in Washington County was held at the jail in 1916.
In 1984, the prisoners were moved out of the old jail and into the new Washington County Detention Center on Western Maryland Parkway. The old jail was demolished in 1985.
Mr. Bill Mason was the first black police officer in Washington County and worked for the Sheriff's Department for 16 years, the last five serving as Captain.
Seventy-eight different men have served as the Sheriff of Washington County between the time the office was created in 1777 and 2004. The Washington County Sheriff's Office is responsible for three main functions: operation of the County detention center, security at the Circuit Court House and civil process for the Circuit and District Courts, and law enforcement in areas of the County not served by a municipal police department.
Erected by Each One Teach One African American Historical Association of Western Maryland.
Location. 39° 38.752′ N, 77° 43.242′ W. Marker is in Hagerstown, Maryland, in Washington County. Marker is on Jonathan Street, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Hagerstown MD 21740, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Washington County Jail (here, next to this marker); The Harmon Hotel (within shouting distance of this marker); Retreat from Gettysburg (approx. 0.2 miles away); Zion Evangelical and Reform Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); Jonathan Hager (approx. 0.2 miles Military Occupation (approx. 0.2 miles away); Ransom of Hagerstown (approx. 0.2 miles away); John Brown (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hagerstown.
More about this marker. On the lower left is a portrait of Mr. William L. "Bill" Mason. In the upper right is a period drawing of the jail. Flanking the sidebar are drawings of relics from jails and prison life in the 1800s.
Categories. • African Americans • Notable Buildings •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 23, 2008, by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. This page has been viewed 1,962 times since then. Photos: 1. submitted on February 23, 2008, by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. 2, 3. submitted on February 24, 2008, by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.