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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Old jail worth saving

To the Editor:

It is with a great deal of sadness that I have been following articles about the Kendall County Historic Pauley Jail.

Through grassroots efforts, the Kendall County Courthouse is in the National Register, protected and eligible for grant money.

We now need to fight for the jail.

Here is a little background on how this building was created. After the Civil War, 33-year-old PJ Pauley, a blacksmith and mechanic, began assisting with transporting prisoners. As the need for counties to have their own jails became evident, he designed a free-standing “Sheriff’s Residence and Jail.” It was expected that the sheriff’s wife would cook for the prisoners, and do their laundry, as needed.

In 1892, the Board of Supervisors recommended that the Pauley concept be built for Kendall County. It was completed in 1893. Records show that all the best materials were used, including pressed brick walls, an iron roof, interior cells made of steel, and cattle hair added to the first coat on all lathed work.

All the necessary historic material and pictures were sent to Springfield. At that time, Theodore Hild, deputy state historic preservation officer, stated, “The building is important to the community of Yorkville as a significant feature of the town’s appearance and every effort should be made to save it. It is one of the character-defining features of the town as a county seat; its location provides a sense of completeness to that part of town. In our opinion the building could be designated a landmark because of its significance. You may be aware that, while once fairly common in Illinois, combined sheriff’s residences and jails are now extremely rare. There are at most five remaining in the state.”

It was accepted as being eligible, but the connecting part, the sally-port, prevented it from being passed. Having been installed later, it was not old enough. There were a couple of offers on ways to address this, but they were rejected at the time. It is now completely old enough.

Personally, I (along with many others) believe it is our responsibility to preserve the historic buildings for individuals in the future to enjoy.

This is a truly unique building with a great history, and it is a landmark for Kendall County. It is hoped that something can be done to keep this rare and exceptional building around for that very purpose. Please contact your alderman.

Joyce Barrett


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