Old Jail in St. Augustine gets restored

The old jail in St. Augustine is getting restored. First Coast News' Jessica Clark has the latest on this development.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A jail is built to be strong, but even a jail needs some TLC when it's 130 years old.

The Old Jail in St. Augustine is undergoing an extensive restoration project. 

The building was completed in 1891, so it's approximately 130 years old. 

John Thomas is the project manager on the restoration job.

He explained that the jail was built by the same company that built Alcatraz.

He noted that "the walls are 16 inches thick."

It basically looks like it did when it opened in 1891 because hardly any structural restoration work has been done since then.

It needs a new exterior so the insides stay dry. "We're putting a water envelope around the entire building," Thomas said.

It also needs new bars for the windows really tall windows. Thomas said the bars "were virtually eaten up with rust."

It needs a new roof, as well.

Thomas pointed to the roof, "This is the original roof and the one we put in will look identical."

Hurricane Irma also damaged the outside, tearing pieces off the exterior.  The storm also damaged the inside ceiling area where the sheriff's family used to live.

The innards -- where the jail cells are --don't need any work. However, the mannequin of the sheriff is covered up in plastic.

"If we didn't we'd have to send him to the dry cleaners," Thomas said with a smile. 

And while this building was a jail, it's a fine piece of craftsmanship and detail.

"When they didn't really have a lot of choices. That's what's so incredible," he noted.

And so Thomas and his team work to save this history.

"If we don't preserve what is the result of American hands-on and American ingenuity, then it will all be lost.  It will be dust.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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