Visit historic jail museums of Texas with your family!
Texas counties, cities, and small towns are home to many historical sites. These sites range from old schools, courthouses, and banks to hospitals and jails. Sites like jails can teach our families the importance of safe communities and reemphasize why laws and rules keep a community in order. Below are old jail cells and historic jail museums in Texas open for visits.
As your family views the bars from the old jail and sees the old paint chipping from the walls, think about the stories that the jail walls can tell. From horse-stealing fugitives to bank bandits and even murder, imagine the people who called each individual jail cell home throughout the years.
Historic Jail Museums of Texas
Does your family enjoy historic travel activities? Looking for a way to teach your kids about Texas history? Then, consider a road trip to visit some of the old jail museums of Texas. And don’t forget to take the jail museum challenge (at the end of this article).
Kendall County Historic Jail (Boerne)
The Kendall County Historic Jail in Boerne, Texas, was built in 1887. The building was used for over 100 years. Exhibits at the historic jail include the Sheriffs of Kendall County, Emergency Responders, Booking and Evidence Room, Texas Rangers, and the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway. The museum is open on Saturdays from 10 am to 5 p.m., making it ideal for weekend travel.
Admission: $5; children under 10 are free.
Texas Prison Museum (Huntsville)
The Texas Prison Museum in Huntsville is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Huntsville’s connection to criminal justice dates back to 1848, when the first prison in the Texas Prison System was built. Sam Houston lived in Huntsville and wanted the headquarters of the Texas Prison System located there. Making what is now the Texas Department of Criminal Justice the only state agency not headquartered in Austin. The museum has operated since 1969. The museum features a Bonnie and Clyde exhibit.
Admission: $7 for adults, $5 for first responders, Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees, and Sam Houston State University students; $4 for ages 6-17.
Old Jail Museum (Granbury)
Part of the Texas Lakes Trail, the Old Jail Museum in Granbury is located in one of the most vibrant downtown areas in Texas. The jail is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 1-4 p.m., which is another ideal weekend travel destination. The penitentiary was operated between 1886 and 1978.
The museum is located within a five-minute walk to the Silver Saddle Saloon, where children can enjoy homemade ice cream, and parents can enjoy beer, wine, and spirits.
Admission: $5 for adults and kids above age 12. $2.50 for children between 6 and 12.
1891 Old Panola County Jail (Carthage)
The Old Panola County Jail Museum is located in Northeast Texas (Carthage, Texas) and is part of the Texas Forest Trail. Operating between 1982 and 1953, the Old Panola County Jail in Carthage features a Texas Historical Landmark. This museum also houses many local artifacts, including a memorial to U.S. Veterans.
After visiting the jail, families can walk to the Sunflower Mercantile, located three minutes from the jail museum, and enjoy ice cream while learning about local veterans highlighted in the museum’s outdoor courtyard.
Old Jail Museum – San Jacinto County (Coldspring)
The Old Jail Museum is located in Deep East Texas (Coldspring, Texas) and is also part of the Texas Forest Trail. Constructed in 1887, the Old Jail Museum in Coldspring is open from 10 am to 4 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It’s also said to be haunted!
After enjoying the museum, families can visit Old Town, where children can learn about rural life by viewing a photography studio, a post office, a schoolhouse, a train depot, and a small town shop. For a special treat, children can experience a corn crib and discover its importance for rural life.
Caldwell County Historical Museum (Lockhart)
Located in Lockhart, Texas, the Caldwell County Historical Museum is Open on Saturdays and Sundays between 1 – 5 p.m. and is built like a castle.
Llano Red Top Jail
The red top is a significant piece of history, and the story behind it is even more incredible! Read the story here – Llano Red Top Jail. Currently, tours are on hold while the jail is being restored.
The Old Jail Art Center – (Albany)
A restored county jail that houses permanent works of art. Some art pieces rotate out. The Old Jail Art Center is located about 30 minutes from Abilene in West Texas and provides a wealth of education for you and your children. Open Tues-Sat from 11 am to 5 pm. Make the best of your trip with these tips for a weekend getaway to Abilene, Texas.
Old Jail Museum Complex (Palo Pinto)
Near Mineral Wells is this Old Jail Museum, a place to see and learn about artifacts and stories of the pioneers of Palo Pinto County. There are two floors to this museum, and a must-see when visiting the area. Find restored cabins and houses once lived in by a famous outlaw and pioneers of the day – be sure to take a tour if there is a time during your visit. The complex is located on two streets – 5th & Elm.
Open 1st weekend of March to 2nd weekend of December every Thursday through Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm.
Texas Jailhouse – (Palestine)
This county jail operated for 55 years until it became an art deco-style building featuring scary events such as a haunted house. How cool is that!! Texas Jailhouse. Buy tickets online.
1890 Jail Museum And Heritage Center (Henrietta)
This Clay County jail includes original jail cells, unused gallows, and a sheriff’s living quarters. The 1890 Jail Museum includes Old West artifacts, ranching and agricultural displays, archives of family histories, and photos. See the website for operating days and times.
Old Frio Pioneer County Jail Museum (Pearsall)
See jail features used by Frio County’s early settlers. The Frio Pioneer Jail Museum offers a quick tour on its website.
Old Jail Park (Royse City)
Old Jail Park is located in downtown Royse City at the water tower facing the railroad tracks. It contains a calaboose, freestanding one-room jail built between 1911 and 1921. Oh, if those walls could talk! Old Jail Park.
Gonzales Country Jail Museum
A history museum in the making! tour the Jail Museum Tuesday – Saturday from 10 am – 4 pm. Look for programs and workshops. Keep up with it all on their FB page – https://www.facebook.com/GonzalesCountyJailMuseum/.
As you can see, if you are interested in Texas history, there are a variety of historic jail museums in Texas you can visit with your family. Let us know in the comments if you have seen any of these museums or plan to visit them in the future.
Jennifer & Anthony Edwards and Kim Croisant wrote the article.
Jail Museum Challenge
Here’s a challenge! Complete these steps to become a Texas Historic Jail Champion:
1 – Take a picture of your children in front (or in) of TWO jail museums highlighted in this article.
2 – Encourage your children to write (or capture a video recording) their experience at the jail museum. What are two things they learned through their visit?
3 – Ask the historic jail museum staff about the 2-3 differences between modern jails and historical jails.