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Crawfordsville, Indiana: Rotary Jail That Rotates Team Field Report

Rotary Jail Museum

225 N. Washington St., Crawfordsville, IN
Rotary Jail Museum. From Indianapolis, I-74 west to the second Crawfordsville exit. Head south from the exit on US Hwy 231 for several miles (less than 15) until you reach the museum on your right. An old, red brick house-like building; doesn't look rotary from the outside.
Summer W-Sa 10-5; Spring-Fall 10-3. Closed Jan-Feb. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $5.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Rotary Jail Museum.

Rotary Jail That Rotates

The first rotary jail built in the U.S., a practical-if-crazy 19th century innovation in which there was only one door, and the cells spun around to let inmates in and out. It's the only surviving rotary jail that still rotates. Report... [03/06/2022]

Visitor Tips and News About Rotary Jail That Rotates

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Rotary Jail

This was an amazing stop. The gentleman who gave the tour was a local, well-versed in the history and quirks of the jail. We got to watch as he hand-cranked the jail to rotate one cell at a time. The rest of the building was very interesting, too.

[Mary Beth Traynor, 07/11/2022]

Rotary jail still moves.

Rotary Jail That Still Rotates

The rotary jail is inside the sheriff's residence. Jail and house was built for $26,000. Originally they forgot to add a kitchen! That added $4,000 and cost the three commissioners their jobs.

[Ron Renken, 09/05/2015]

Rotary jail.

Rotary Jail Museum

The Rotary Jail Museum houses the only working rotary cell block in the country. Built in 1881 as the Montgomery County, Indiana jail, the cell block was designed to rotate in a complete circle, weighs approximately 32 tons, and is hand cranked.

The mechanism was immobilized in the late 1930s and was restored to working condition when it became a museum in 1975.

[Tamara Hemmerlein, 08/08/2010]

Sept. 2015 - photo added.

Rotary Jail Museum

The first rotary jail built in the US. It was designed so you only needed one guard per floor. The jail had one door on each floor for the eight cells. When a cellmate was needed, the jail was rotated to the door to retrieve the prisoner.

[Melisa, 07/03/2010]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Red Crown Mini-MuseumRed Crown Mini-Museum, Lafayette, IN - 26 mi.
Farm Family SculptureFarm Family Sculpture, Lafayette, IN - 26 mi.
VOSS Model: Solar System SpiralVOSS Model: Solar System Spiral, West Lafayette, IN - 26 mi.
In the region:
Big Pig and Gorilla, Spencer, IN - 53 mi.

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