Old Jailhouse Back In Business
For more than 100 years, Fulton County’s offices were limited to the courthouse and the adjacent jailhouse.
That would change in the mid- 1950s when then boards of county commissioners began buying neighboring homes and turning them into smaller office buildings to house the growing number of county employees. By 2007, the commissioners turned their sights not on acquiring new real estate but renovating existing facilities and tearing down several older buildings that were no longer adequate.
On Saturday, October 19, as part of the Fulton Fall Folk Festival, the current board of commissioners comprised of Rodney McCray, Craig Cutchall and Irvin Dasher unveiled the newest look for the county complex located along North Second Street, Mc- Connellsburg.
Nearly four years in the making, the end result is a modernized courthouse, a jail that takes onlookers back in time to the 1850s and a newly renovated office for Magisterial District Judge Wendy Mellott. Work completed also includes a large parking lot, major landscaping, replacement of the bell tower, a geothermal loop and demolition of five old buildings.
According to commissioners Cutchall and Dasher, the appearance of Fulton County’s facilities has long been a focal point of discussion for area residents. Two news clippings from the “Fulton Democrat” dated May 1898 touch on the improvemenet suggestions ranging from a planted lot of shade trees and upgrades to the public square to a new chandelier to illuminate the courtroom.
In recent years, heated discussions surrounded the proposed demolition of the “historic” jailhouse that houses the sheriff’s of- fice. Hearing the concerns of Fulton County Historical Society members and perusing the petition signatures of area residents, the commissioners agreed to restore the building to its former glory with much-needed financial assistance from the Fulton County Historical Society
Dick Miller, past president of the Historical Society, spoke Saturday as part of the jailhouse ribbon cutting and tours of the newly renovated county-owned facilities. Miller stated he and fellow society member Glenn Cordell initially approached the board of commissioners as concerned taxpayers. Miller stated the jail “didn’t look good at all and was in bad need of repair.”
After eliminating a newer addition that provided extra jail cells and addressing interior concerns, the exterior work overseen by the Historical Society focused on covering the existing grey stucco/glass finish. Redland Bricks, Miller stated, was able to perfectly match the half-bricks for the jail with that of the courthouse.
“It just looks gorgeous,” said Miller of the inside as well as the outside of the jail that up until 1986 housed not only prisoners but the sheriff and his family. The project was funded in part by auctions, donations and cookbook sales, Miller stated.
“We’re around $20,000 behind, but it’s worth it,” said the former Historical Society president of the exterior project that totalled well over $60,000. “We think it’s just great a historic building was saved and brought back to what it looked like in 1852.”
Miller noted a plaque hangs inside the office denoting a total of nine individuals who have donated $1,000 or more toward the renovation of the jail. Additional slots are available to list more donors.
As part of the special ceremony, the commissioners also unveiled the new county seal that was designed by Commissioner Dasher and fine-tuned by local artist Chris Hill. Dasher stated the design represents different aspects of Fulton County such as a 12-toothed gear for industry, mountains, farmland, long rifles and a tomahawk for colonial heritage and a milk can for agriculture.