PAULDING, Ohio (www.incnow.tv) - A historic jail avoided demolition and is now getting a new life. One of our viewers is crediting 21 Alive's story from January for helping save the 1876 building.
The old jail’s new use will be the home of Jeff Hollis' restoration business, All Trades Restoration.
"There are certain buildings that catch your eye, at least our eye, and this is one of them,” said Jeff Hollis, Owner, All Trades Restoration.
But selling the jail wasn't always the plan.
"I strongly feel that if 21 Alive wouldn't have come down here and got on it we might have had a different outcome,” said Kim Sutton, President, John Paulding Historical Society.
In January 21 Alive’s Stephanie Parkinson first met Kim. Kim explained the county wanted to tear the old jail down. Stephanie also met with the county commissioners and they confirmed that was their plan.
"After that story ran I started receiving phone calls from people, not just county residents but people that used to live here before,” said Sutton.
The county started taking bids to sell the building and Jeff Hollis' bid of $11,777 won. That sale also came with a promise from Jeff to invest in the building and bring it back into play for the downtown community.
“Because of our history of restoring we felt we couldn't let this building get demo'd,” said Hollis.
Jeff's company focuses on restoring old buildings. He's already done a lot of work in the area so he thought this building was the perfect place to create office space, and apartments for employees when they travel to the area. But there's also an emotional attachment for Jeff.
“You really can't afford to give up on the past because it got us to where we are at today,” said Hollis. “We can't just keep knocking down the older buildings to put new buildings up just because it's convenient. There is a reason why this building has stood for over 136 years."
For Sutton, she feels this was the perfect outcome.
“It’s just a win win situation for everybody. We are able to keep our majestic jail in town. It's got a good use now and the commissioners can take it off the role of assets that they don't have to maintain anymore,” said Sutton.
It's believed by many people in the community the building is haunted so as Jeff continues restoration he's going to use the jail cells as part of a haunted house.
“They can see how it used to be, back in the day, probably give the kids a bit of scare to what prison looks like, because this is definitely a little harsher than today's prisons, said Hollis.
"I think there are a lot of people that would like to go into the jail. I think a lot of people have never been inside, you to know to really see it,” said Sutton. “You do know, they do have reports that there is a ghost in that jail. So it will be real interesting.”
21 Alive’s Stephanie Parkinson asked Jeff if he has seen a ghost before while restoring old buildings.
Stephanie: Have you ever seen a ghost?
Jeff: "No, but we've heard the stories and we've heard the knocking and all that fun stuff, but I have not seen a ghost, yet.
Stephanie: But you've heard noises then?
Jeff: "Of course, of course. That's due to building settling, maybe rodents, but you can't pin it down. I'd never say it's not going to happen.
Haunted or not, Kim and others involved with the historical society are just happy to see the building still standing.
“It’s a beautiful building and we just didn't want to lose that. In this day and age I think we need to value our historic sites and that's one for Paulding so we're really thrilled,” said Sutton.
Jeff hopes to have office space ready for employees in the next few months. He says tackling renovation of the areas where the jail cells are will take more time. He says that process may take a few years.
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