St. Augustine Old Jail
St. Augustine, Florida, USA
- Crime and punishment: Hear tales of justice and injustice, capital punishment and criminal behavior from the days when Florida was an unrepentant and untamed frontier.
- Sheriff's quarters: See where the 6-foot-six, 300-pound Joe Perry, the South's most feared sheriff, lived with his wife next to 72 hardened prisoners in an east-coast Alcatraz.
- Behind bars: Explore the men's cells, women's cells, gallows, and maximum security area, and see an impressive collection of weapons used in actual crimes.
About this St. Augustine, Florida tour
Tycoon Henry Flagler didn't like having a dilapidated jail across the street from his posh Ponce de Leon Hotel, cluttering his wealthy clients' view. Being a problem-solver, he donated $10,000 so the county commission could build a new jail elsewhere.
The same company that built Alcatraz built the new "Old Jail" in 1891. Pleasant on the outside, it was nightmarish on the inside. Administrators believed prisoners should be punished, not rehabilitated, so it had bare cells, barred windows, no heat, no running water, and no sanitation: one bucket for four prisoners. Solitary confinement had no bed or window. Hard labor outside prison walls was a prisoner's only hope of remaining semi-sane.
As much as prisoners despised the jail, their spirits have been reluctant to leave it. Visitors report unseen presences tugging, punching, tripping, and blowing on them, or placing an icy hand on their backs. They see shadowy apparitions sitting on bunks or passing through walls. Some people get overwhelmed by stomach-turning smells. Others hear wicked laughter, wails, moans, shouts, the pleading voice of a little girl, and the barks of disembodied dogs.
Eight was enough
Death by hanging was the preferred mode of execution at the Old Jail. Only condemned prisoners had windows, but that was just to provide a view of the gallows. Unfortunately, authorities often got the physics of weight, rope length, and fall distance wrong, so the eight hangings here took up to 14 minutes, and an embarrassed Florida switched to the electric chair.
Please proceed to the Old Jail at 167 San Marco Ave, St. Augustine , FL 32084.
Please arrive fifteen (15) minutes prior to the departure of the tour as all tours leave promptly. Closed Christmas Day.
Jail is wheelchair accessible on lower floor only (approx. 80% of venue). Second floor houses the main cell block.
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated mild. To participate fully, you may be required to walk over primarily even surfaces at a leisurely pace. You may encounter a limited number of steps, cobblestones, or uneven surfaces, and you may have to stand for extended periods of time.
Suitable for all ages. Children 5 years of age and younger participate free of charge.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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