• David Thornbury

Sandusky County's Long Forgotten Dungeon...

Perhaps one of Sandusky County’s best kept secrets is what lies below a portion of our local county courthouse. Just beyond the north wing administrative offices is a doorway that time forgot... a doorway that feels like a time portal as you pass into this 1840’s era underground dungeon constructed when Fremont was known as the Lower Sandusky. Before the dungeon was built, there was a need for a more secure location to imprison criminals who often escaped from the above-ground jails constructed with wooden plank floors and walls. In fact, most of these makeshift jails were nothing more than private homes offered up for use as a jail for a mere sum of $20.00 per year.

Construction began in 1840 on the county courthouse and a secure jail, which became the underground dungeon, was completed four years later. The construction was the work of architect Cyrus Williams and was constructed at a cost of $16,550.00. The dungeon-style underground jail was first used in 1842 before the construction of the courthouse was even completed due to inmate George Thompson and his persistance to escape a wooden jail that was located at the corner of what is now Croghan and Front Street. The dungeon is complete with ashlar walls built of large blocks of locally quarried limestone with rivited iron windows and doors. While this relic of the past remains open for the occasional tour, the actual dungeon was only used for around 14 years due to backlash from area residents and officials who believed the punishment to be inhumane and barbaric.

There was a new jail constructed in 1854 that was used until 1890 when a new jail was constructed.  Tours are regularly offered of the Historic Jail and Dungeon. For more information, visit: www.sanduskycounty.org

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