In downtown Fremont behind the Sandusky County Courthouse is an old sandstone building. From the front, it looks like a Victorian-Romanesque style house. From the side, an additional three story wing comes off the rear and has bars on the window. They are there because the old structure at one time served as the county jail and sheriff’s residence. When it was dedicated in 1890, the keynote speaker was former United States President Rutherford B. Hayes, who was a resident of Fremont.
President Hayes was an advocate for prison reform, and at the time the jail was built, it was a modern facility with cells designed with prisoner safety in mind. What lies underneath the building was far from safe and humane for early prisoners of Sandusky County. In the 1840s, during the beginning of Sandusky County, log cabins with iron bars on the windows were used to confine people who broke the law. The primitive building did not serve its intended purpose well because it had dirt floors and a few prisoners dug down under the wall and escaped. After a few years, it was evident that some other form of incarceration was needed. Instead of building up, they went down and dug a dungeon lined with stone walls. The prisoners were held in dank cells poorly illuminated by kerosene lamps.
The Dungeon was used for over a decade until a new jail was built on top of it. The old jail finally closed in the 1990s after a new jail, to meet current standards, was constructed. There was talk about razing the old building, but it was decided to use it as office space for the county. Over the years, people have noticed strange things happening in the old building. They have heard strange sounds and footsteps of people who were not there. In the middle of the night, the motion detectors will go off when nothing is on the video surveillance. I can’t say for sure if the old jail is haunted, but there were some tragic events that took place within its walls. One inmate in the old dungeon who had been arrested for murder had a visitor slip him a razorblade. He used it to commit suicide in his cell. On the third floor is an old gallows that was used to hang prisoners sentenced to death. The last hanging was done in 1883. John W. Radford was hanged for shooting and killing his wife.
Thank you for Subscribing to Lost In The States, If you have not subscribed yet, It would mean a lot to me if you did.