Historic Kansas jail moving stone by stone

LECOMPTON, Kan. - Men are chipping away at the walls of the city jail in Lecompton, Kan. , but they're not trying to escape. They're moving the historic 1892 jail, stone by stone.

Doug Callahan is the on-site supervisor for Rockhill and Associates , which is doing the work.

"It is exactly like a puzzle," he explained. "We have to keep every stone as we pull it out and number it. It has to be laid out exactly as we took it out."

The tiny historic jail was in an awkward spot, on private property near a home. The owners were nice about having visitors, but it worked out for the best to move it.

"Their family is expanding and this property became available two years ago to the Lecompton Historical Society, and this made it very convenient just to move this jail across the alley," said Paul Bahnmaier, Lecompton Historical Society president.

It's a good move because it puts the jail beside Lecompton's historic Constitution Hall. The slope of the hill is the same as the old site, and it's not far to move.

A grant from the Douglas County Heritage Council and donations from Historical Society members moved things along nicely.

"So the total project came to $69,000, and we'll be completed in another month," Bahnmaier said.

While they're at it, they have installed a new foundation that won't be seen, but will help keep the building stable for a couple of centuries.

But really you can't beat the original work on this 120-year-old structure, at least when it comes to stability and security, as evidenced by the thickness of the walls and the close spacing of the iron bars on the windows.

"They weren't messing around; there was nobody that was going to get out of this thing," Callahan laughed.

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