Georgetown Time Machine: Old Jail

This week for Georgetown Time Machine, GM returns to the fantastic archive of the DC Historical Society. And the photo today is of the ruins of the Old Jail.

The jail stood at the foot of High Street (what is now Wisconsin Ave.) GM was unable to find a history of the building. But this is what the Georgetown African American Historic Landmark association has to say about it:

The Old Jail, sometimes called the Debtor’s Prison, was located at the base of High Street later renamed Wisconsin Avenue in 1891 when Georgetown was incorporated into Washington, DC. During 1890s the jail was supposedly used as a “Colored Mission.” The building was demolished in 1896. The Cherry Hill houses located in the rear of the jail on Cecil (Cissel) Place were built 1890. On the right of the jail, was a building erected in 1877 for the Washington Chariot Company, later sold to Washington – Georgetown Railroad Company, the first street car line in the city.

There are references to a Georgetown jail in the earliest Washington Star archives available, circa 1855. Of course since Georgetown was a city since 1751, it likely had multiple jails through its history (e.g., one stood at the Georgetown Market building location), so it’s hard to say which one these articles are referencing.

The photo itself is from the 1920s when it was already in ruins.

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