Historic Designation Sought
VOLUNTEERS HOPE TO ADD JAIL, SHERIFF’S HOUSE TO NATIONAL REGISTRY
Volunteers hope the old county jail built in 1905 becomes the third McDonald County entity to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
McDonald County Historical Society volunteers recently started to tackle the lengthy process of paperwork for a possible National Register of Historic Places designation. Preliminary information from state officials indicates the old county jail on Harmon Street in Pineville has a shot at making the list.
Though a final decision for such is not guaranteed, volunteers are encouraged and want to move forward. Once the paperwork is filed, it might take a year before volunteers know the final outcome, said McDonald County Historical Society President Lynn Tatum.
The old courthouse on the Pineville Square made the list in 2012, Tatum said. State officials were fascinated that the old courthouse had been utilized for the Jesse James movie in 1939.
The old iron bridge in Powell, constructed in 1914-1915, is also on the list.
Volunteers started the most recent process in August when they sent a preliminary assessment form to the State Historic Preservation Office for the old county jail and the historic Sheriff’s House.
The idea to apply came as volunteers began finishing restoration work on the sheriff’s house. Volunteers have been working for the last five or six years and are currently working on the interior. With that project almost complete, volunteers began to wonder if the Sheriff’s House and the old jail next door could qualify for national recognition, Tatum said.
A call to the state and some discussions resulted in a preliminary assessment being sent to local volunteers. State officials suggested the two buildings be combined as a unit for the application.
State officials said they would
return an opinion — not approval — if it would be worthwhile for volunteers to apply.
The Historical Society owns the Sheriff’s House, and the county owns the old jail. Officials met with county commissioners to gain their support and ask if the Historical Society could occupy the first 10 feet — the entryway — that is currently used as storage. It could be used as exhibit space.
Volunteers are not necessarily interested in the other part of the building, as commissioners utilize that for storage of important documents.
County commissioners agreed to support the plan, and Tatum moved forward by submitting the old jail’s floor plans, what the facilities were used for, updates made, site plans and photos of the interior and exterior. In all, her document was 48-pages long.
That was submitted on Aug. 4. By early September, state officials replied that there was not sufficient information available about the Sheriff’s House for eligibility. Part of the unknown criteria is knowing when the structure was built. Volunteers do not have that information and it would take quite some time and research to uncover that, Tatum said.
State officials did say that there was sufficient information about the old jail and that volunteers could submit further information and an application.
“We were surprised and happy,” Tatum said.
The board voted to move forward and an ad hoc committee was established.
Volunteers will submit a first draft of the application next year, which will be reviewed by technical specialists. After the first draft is approved, volunteers may sit before a panel at the state’s capitol in Jefferson City, give a presentation and answer questions.
After that, it could be another year before volunteers know the final outcome, Tatum said.
Many apply and very few are approved for the national list, however, the approval would be an extremely valuable status for the county and preservation of its history, Tatum said.
Making the list means the structure cannot be torn down. It also gives the society the ability to apply for grants and raise money for exhibits, should they be located in the front part of the old jail.