Norfolk County Jail (1817)

The Norfolk County Jail was a jail located on Village Avenue in Dedham, Massachusetts. It replaced the first Norfolk County Jail on nearby Highland Street. [1]

Notable inmates Edit

Notable inmates included

  • Jason Fairbanks[2]
  • Sacco and Vanzetti.[3] Sacco's seven-year-old son, Dante, would sometimes stand on the sidewalk outside the jail and play catch with his father by throwing a ball over the wall.[3]
  • Ezra Heywood. Heywood became friendly with Sheriff Rufus Corbin Wood who said to him: "If I could have my way, I would open the prison doors and say 'Go and sin no more!'"[3]

Building Edit

The two story stone building was built in 1817 and was 33' square.[4][5] Part of the jail was torn down in 1851 to erect a central, octagonal portion and two wings.[4][5] It resulted in a building with the shape of a Latin cross, and featured Gothic Revival windows.[5] The three tiers of cells radiated out like spokes from the central guardroom.[5] After it was built, the tools used were auctioned off at Marsh's Tavern.[6]

Ezra Heywood said that "When I stepped over the threshold of Dedham Jail, I stepped from the civilization of the nineteeth century into the barbarism of the tenth century."[7] Two of his fellow inmates were 18 year old men who were sentenced to five years each for stealing $26 worth of hens.[7]

Inmates were housed in the jail until 1992 when the Norfolk County Correctional Center was opened in 1992.[4] A court forced the closure after 13 inmates escaped in 1989.[1] There were at least 27 break outs during the prison's history.[5]

Hangings Edit

There were two hangings in the central rotunda.[1] First was George C. Hersey on August 8, 1862.[1] Over 300 people received tickets to watch.[1] James H. Costley was hung on June 25, 1875.[1] Again, 300 people watched as his body twitched and convulsed for close to two minutes.[1] One spectator fainted, and others obtained pieces of the hangmans rope to bring home as souvenirs.[1] It was the last execution in Norfolk County.[1]

Condominiums Edit

In 1999, the jail was converted by the Brookline-based Parencorps into a condominium complex known as Stoneleigh.[5] The sale price was more than $1 million.[5] The 24 luxury condominiums were offered for between $450,000 and $650,000, each with between 1,800 and 2,500 sq ft (170 and 230 m2).[5]

References Edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Parr 2009.
  2. ^ Parr 2009, p. 52.
  3. ^ a b c Parr 2009, p. 59.
  4. ^ a b c Dedham Historical Society 2001, p. 11.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h The Associated Press (September 13, 1999). "Former Dedham jail being converted into upscale condominiums". South Coast Today. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  6. ^ Austin 1912, p. 24.
  7. ^ a b Parr 2009, p. 67.

Works cited Edit

42°14′54″N 71°10′46″W / 42.2483°N 71.1794°W / 42.2483; -71.1794