Macoupin County's "Cannonball Jail"

E.E. Meyers, the same architect who designed the county’s controversial courthouse, designed the historic Macoupin County Jail.  Built as part of the Macoupin County Courthouse project in 1867, using the “cannon ball” method, which stopped jailbreaks by making it nearly impossible to remove the blocks to make an escape, this unique medieval inspired fortress housed many law-breakers during its 119 year history.  The Macoupin County Jail is said to look more like a fortress than a small town jail.  It’s Gothic Revival design features a scalloped parapet, which served as home to the sheriff and his family.

Completed in 1869, just a few years after the end of the Civil War, Meyers incorporated a unique design feature; each stone was hallowed out at the ends and surplus cannonballs were placed between the stones.  The cell block’s ceiling, walls, and floors were constructed of one-inch iron plates with 20 inches of solid stone above and below.  This made escape by removing sections of the stone wall a virtual impossibility.

The jail was originally designed to hold 17 prisoners but at times saw twice that many, and lacked any of the amenities found in modern facilities.

Since its retirement in 1988, the jail had been a popular tourist attraction but due to old age and environmental issues the jail has been closed to the public. In 2015, a campaign was started to fund the renovation of the old jail so it could be reopened to the public.

Information on how to make a tax exempt donation can be found below or on our tourism information page or you can place your donation in the small blue donation box next to the door of the old jail.

Thank you for your support.

Historical Old Jail Renovation Fund

Through its century long history, the historic Macoupin County Jail served the residents of our county. An example of Gothic architecture, the jail is constructed of stone blocks and embedded cannon balls to prevent escape and served as the jailer residence. Since its retirement in 1988, the old jail has been a popular tourist attraction, but due to age and environmental issues, the historic jail has been closed to the public. Working with the Chamber Tourism Committee, we recognize the historic significance of the old jail, and its impact on tourism and the economy. As a result, the Macoupin County Board and the Macoupin County Community Foundation established the Historical Old Jail Renovation Fund; a tax-exempt fund for individuals interested in contributing towards improvements necessary to reopening the old jail to the public.

Donations can be made directly to the Macoupin County Community Foundation for the benefit of the Historical Old Jail Renovation Fund. 100% OF ALL DONATIONS GOES TO THE RESTORATION OF THE OLD JAIL.

Checks should be made out to the Macoupin County Community Foundation and returned to:

Macoupin County Community Foundation
PO Box 45
Carlinville, IL 62626
(Please include Historical Old Jail Renovation Fund on the memo line.)

For more information, please call: 217-854-3214