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Old McLean County Jail Undated

Old jail house, undated.

The view here is from the corner of Madison and Monroe streets, downtown Bloomington, looking southwest. That’s the fifth jail in McLean County’s history. It opened in 1882 and closed on March 1, 1977. It was torn down in the 1980s. Today this site is … what else but a parking lot!

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp is the Librarian at the McLean County Museum of History


Brenda Troyer Harness8/24/19 11:36pm

Was the Jail formerly on Madison and Monroe constructed only to be a jail or was it previously a residence?

Carla (Slayback) Rogers11/05/20 4:30pm

Hello Brenda. I believe it was actually both. The front half of the jail was the sheriff’s family residence and the back half was the county jail. My family lived there for 3 1/2 years when my dad was sheriff (Carl Slayback). The picture above was taken before the fire on the 3rd floor. The 3rd floor was removed by the time my family lived there in the 1960s.

The staircase to the left of the picture on Madison Street was the front entrance to the residence. The staircase to the right of the picture on Mason St. was the entrance to the jail’s kitchen. There was a third entrance on the opposite side of Mason Street entrance that was the official entrance to the county jail.

It was a very interesting place to live from a young person’s perspective.

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