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Courtesy of James E. Casto The old Cabell County Jail was used from 1895 to 1940. Note the sign on the wooden fence: “Keep Out! No Talking to Prisoners Allowed From Street.”

Editor's note: This is the 70th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington landmarks.

HUNTINGTON - When Cabell County moved the county seat to Huntington from Barboursville in 1887, the county initially shared space in Huntington's town hall on the east side of the 400 block of 9th Street.

That space soon became inadequate, and in 1892 the county bought the present courthouse site - the block bounded by 5th and 4th avenues from 8th to 7th streets. It wasn't until 1895 that the county felt financially ready to have plans for a new courthouse prepared.

That was done and a foundation for the courthouse was constructed. No further work was done on the building until the following year.

But the county did build a jail building - a buff-colored brick and sandstone structure three stories high with a slate roof.

Erected near the northwest corner of the block, it would hold the county's prisoners for more than 40 years, until a new, modern jail was built in 1940.

In 1932, a Huntington jail break made national headlines and the photo of the old jail that's included here was circulated to newspapers across the country by the former International News Service.

Eighteen prisoners at the old jail sawed their way out after overcoming two guards. One prisoner was immediately recaptured.

The others remained briefly at large. The ringleader in the break was said to be a former state Prohibition agent who had been jailed on a charge of robbing filling stations.

When county officials began planning the addition of a new east wing on the courthouse in 1938, they decided the time had come to build a new jail.

The old jail was jacked up and moved to the south, making it possible to build the new four-story jail on the site of the original lockup. The old jail was then demolished, and the new east wing and jail were dedicated March 23, 1940.

Today the county's prisoners are housed at the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville. The jail building built in 1940 is now used as office space.

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