Royse City Old Jail

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This calaboose is located in “Old Jail Park” in downtown Royse City.  It is adjacent to the parking lot of the post office at 217 East Main (south side of street) and is between the city water tower and railroad tracks.  It measures 4.93 meters across the front and 2.43 meters on each side (128.9 square feet).  There are two cells that are equal in size.  Each cell has two windows, one on each side and one on the front wall.

The door on the left is missing, and modern rebar designed to replicate a cell door has been installed. This structure is in poor condition as evidenced by visible holes and cracks in the walls.  In some areas where the stucco has peeled away, the joints between the layers of poured concrete are exposed.  There is no visible evidence of reinforcing bar (aka rebar) in the wall profiles.  The wall profile shows a higher than normal ratio of aggregate to cement and this is probably the reason for the settling and ultimate crumbling of the walls.

The roof was probably poured last because a form would have to have been in place.  In order to install the wooden boards on the ceiling, a ledge was probably created by thinning the walls a few inches to form a shelf or casting a shelf that projects from the interior wall.  Either method would be a deviation from the normal casting process but they would use less concrete. A coat of stucco painted with whitewash was applied to the exterior creating a rough look. The use of stucco was considered to be a cosmetic treatment, but it also protected the underlying concrete from additional cracking and deterioration.  Similar stucco treatments were applied to buildings that were constructed from 1910 through the 1930s.

According to Millie Jean Coppedge in an article entitled “Reminiscing Royse City” published on May 7, 2009 in the Royse City Herald Banner,  “… no one can be found who remembers when it was built or even the exact date of when it was no longer used.”  Her article states that several citizens have said it was no longer being used during the 1940s.  Zaner (Robinson) Benetin owned the  Royse City American Newspaper from 1942 until 1973.  She said in 1942 it was no longer being used as a jail.  Since it does not appear on the Sanborn map dated 1911 but is depicted on the map dated June 1921, it was built sometime between 1911 and 1921.  On the 1921 Sanborn map, it is on the southeast corner of Block B between Main Street to the north and the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad tracks to the south.  Most informants have said that it was mostly used for less dangerous offenders such as drunks.  They were usually released the next day once they sobered up. Often the drunks’ boss would come to the jail on Monday mornings and bail out his employee or employees so they could return to work.  Murderers and serious offenders were taken to Dallas to be incarcerated.

For more details regarding the old jail, visit Tiny Texas Jails website.

Back view of the calaboose.

Window view of the calaboose.