The jail was built in 1857 and is a rare example of egyptian revivalist architecture. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also an official National Landmark.
The Old Jail Museum exhibits some of the Dubuque County Historical Society’s most unique and interesting artifacts. It’s one-of-a-kind collection pieces include the Julien Dubuque family cradle, a passenger wagon from the Dubuque-based A. A. Cooper Wagon Works company dating back to the 1860s, the ACME Life Saving Device that saved 27 people from the 1946 Hotel Canfield fire, and a Civil War flag.
The Old Jail also features a light and sound show, “The Hanging of Patrick O’Connor”, which tells the story of how O’Connor was condemned and hanged for the murder just 20-yards from the jail. The theatrical show entertains audiences with its use of actual artifacts, historically accurate details and an appearance by the ghost of Patrick O’Connor himself.
Teachers, unlock your students minds. Your class will love going on an educational treasure hunt through the halls and cells of this old jail. As your students gather knowledge they will get the answers they need to “break out of jail.” Learning has never been so captivating.
Visit the Old Jail Museum
The Old Jail Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Hours are 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. The Old Jail Museum is also available for field trips, group visits and private functions at any time by appointment.