Benton, Illinois: Charlie Birger Gallows and George Harrison Artifacts

Charlie was executed in a public hanging in Illinois in 1928. George visited Benton in 1963, and got the radio station to play a record by a strange new group named The Beatles.

Franklin County Jail Museum

Address:
209 W. Main St., Benton, IL
Directions:
Franklin County Jail Museum. One-half mile off I-57 on Hwy 14 in Benton. Maple St. and Hwy 14.
Hours:
W-Sa 10-3 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
618-439-0608
Admission:
$4
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights
Benton, Illinois - Two Gallows, One Beatle: Good Times At The Old Jail
Charlie Birger Gallows and George Harrison Artifacts: "It was one of the top ten days of my life," said Bob Rea, president of the Franklin County Historical Preservation Society in Benton, Illinois. He was referring to May 4, 2013, the day that he first laid eyes on the gallows that hanged Charlie Birger. [05/24/2013] Complete Story...

Visitor Tips and News About Charlie Birger Gallows and George Harrison Artifacts

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Gallows and vintage car.

Charlie Birger Gallows

We visited 09/05/2020 and the museum was, according to a sign on the door, "temporarily closed as a common-sense approach to preventing the spread of Covid-19." But we noticed quite a few changes outside: the crossbeam and noose are gone from the gallows, a giant photo (with caption) of a grinning Charlie Birger has been added to the gallows, a 1920s gangster-type auto sits outside with the gallows, and a seemingly out-of-place WWII German artillery cannon is also sitting right there.

[Mike Gassmann, 09/11/2020]

Noose removed as a common sense approach to preventing noose misuse.

Replica gallows.

Gallows Replica

The museum exhibits a replica of the gallows used in the last public hanging in Illinois.

[GVPmom, 10/06/2014]

Chain link fencing helps prevent the gallows-loving public from harming itself.

Ku Klux Klan cell.

Franklin County Jail Museum

This place is amazing. and it is just a few bucks to get in. Outside of the jail/museum is a replica gallows on the same spot where gangster Charlie Birger was hanged. Inside there are many great displays on Charlie, and other notable people from the area. There is a very cool and weird display on George Harrison, who visited the area just before his bandmates in the Beatles came to America!

The museum is inside of the old jail, and much of it has been left beautifully unrestored -- and the museum has recently added the original Birger gallows to its collection! Make sure you spend some time in the gift shop as they have postcards available showing Charlie on the gallows!

[Jimerado, 10/26/2013]
Gallows That Hanged Charlie Birger

Charlie Birger was hanged April 19, 1928 at the Franklin County Jail in Benton. He was the last man to be executed in a public hanging in Illinois. A replica gallows is on display at the Jail.

At the same location is a WFRX Radio Room where George Harrison interviewed, as well as Civil War memorabilia.

[Mandi G., 07/28/2009]

Visitors can see Charlie's cell, the barred window from which he watched them build his gallows, and the replica gallows itself. George Harrison was in Benton in 1963, before he became a superstar, because his sister lived in town. The radio station in Benton was among the first in America to play a Beatles record.


Nearby Offbeat Places

Franklin County Garage MuseumFranklin County Garage Museum, Benton, IL - < 1 mi.
Marker: First Beatle in AmericaMarker: First Beatle in America, Benton, IL - < 1 mi.
Giant George Harrison Cut-OutGiant George Harrison Cut-Out, Benton, IL - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Pollard's Collection, Salem, IL - 45 mi.

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