The 1811 Lincoln County Museum & Old Jail in Wiscasset opens on July 3 for tours of the granite jail and jailer’s house, plus a special exhibit of mounted and framed photos of Lincoln County at the beginning of the 20th century. The images were retrieved from 5” x 7” glass plate negatives that belonged to Eastern Publishing Company, a publisher of postcards.
A small crew of photographers employed by the publisher focused their lenses on locally known landmarks, street scenes, country stores and businesses. A few years ago, some 50,000 glass plate and film negatives were saved from certain destruction, thanks to Kevin Johnson, photo archivist for the Penobscot Marine Museum.
The Old Jail is open for tours 12-4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through October 3, except for July 4 when the site is closed. Lincoln County Historical Association’s volunteer docents allow visitors to step back in time to a period when scofflaws found themselves in cold cells with bars on the windows, but no glass to hold out winter winds.
The tour also includes the kitchen where the jailer’s wife prepared meals for as many as 50 inmates on an open hearth and bake oven. A shed off the kitchen has an extensive exhibit of tools of the trades that were plied by Lincoln County residents in the 19th century.
The parlor and dining room of the jailer’s house contain furnishings appropriate to a middle class family in the Victorian era. In addition, a special exhibit of photographs, on loan for the season from the Penobscot Marine Museum offers views of Lincoln County at a time in the early 1900’s when the jail was in full-time use.
The Old Jail is located at 133 Federal Street (Route 218) in Wiscasset, about 1/2 mile north of Route 1.
The Lincoln County Historical Association is a non-profit organization that provides stewardship for the 1754 Chapman-Hall House in Damariscotta, the 1761 Pownalborough Court House in Dresden, and the 1811 Old Jail and Museum in Wiscasset. For more information, please visit lincolncountyhistory.org or Facebook at Lincoln County Historical Association.