Correctional Creepiness—Haunted Jail of Alabama

It seems that wherever people are incarcerated their spirits may remain. Many of these places, be they jails, prisons, or the like, may be the scenes of deaths. In older jails, executions may have been conducted, but then there are also suicides, murders, accidents, and natural deaths as well occurring to the incarcerated as well as staff members. With death’s often malignant presence, it is no surprise that they are haunted.

Buck Creek Mill Site
Off 7th Street, Southwest
Alabaster

This site, now owned by the City of Alabaster, was once the site of a large cotton mill and associated buildings. The mill opened in 1896 as the Selma Cotton Mill, was renamed the Siluria Cotton Mill in 1902, and finally named the Buck Creek Cotton Mill in 1911, the name it would retain until it closed in 1979. The city purchased the property and demolished most of the structures, with the exception of the water tower and old jail, in the late 2000s. While much of the site is off limits to the public, the old mill’s dam on Buck Creek may be accessed by way of the Buck Creek Greenway.

In the years since, visitors to the site have reported paranormal experiences here including a black figure deemed, “The Black Phantom.” Investigator and author Kim Johnston notes that some visitors have had run-ins with a red-eyed specter here while others have felt an unexpected sense of panic.

Sources

Limestone County Courthouse
200 West Washington Street
Athens

This, the third courthouse on this site, has witnessed the panoply of Athens history. The first courthouse was built on this site in 1820 and destroyed during the Civil War. Within the ruined shell of the first courthouse, the second building was built. That structure was razed and replaced with the current courthouse in 1916.

Limestone County Courthouse Athens Alabama
Limestone County Courthouse, 2010, by Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy of the George F. Landregger Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Author Jessica Penot spoke with the staff of the courthouse and discovered that this building apparently harbors the spirit of an inmate. Officials report that the third floor of the building once housed the jail and the spirit of an inmate who hung himself in his cell.

Sources

  • Lauderdale County Heritage Book Committee. Heritage of Lauderdale County, Alabama. Clanton, AL: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1999.
  • Penot, Jessica. “The Athens/Limestone County Courthouse.” Ghost Stories and Haunted Places Blog. 4 April 2011.

Main Street Café
101 Main Street
Madison

There’s a ghost in the heart of Madison, specifically in the Main Street Café. Built in 1955, the structure that now houses the restaurant was built as the city’s third city hall. Originally, the structure contained offices and two jail cells, both of which remain as part of the restaurant. One spirit may remain from the building’s past: a spirit who has been dubbed George by the restaurant staff. Author and blogger Jessica Penot notes that the spirit is mostly mischievous and seems to play pranks on the employees like arranging things to fall out when a cabinet is opened or moving or hiding kitchen utensils.

Sources

  • Penot, Jessica. “Old Jail Ghosts in the Main Street Café.” Ghost Stories and Haunted Places Blog. 26 October 2010.
  • Tucker, Leslie & Christy Anderson. Madison Station Historic District. February 2005.

Old Bibb County Jail
21 Court Square, West
Centreville

Bibb County Courthouse and Jail Centreville Alabama
The Bibb County Courthouse with the jail in the background. Photograph taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

This 1910 Renaissance-styled jail is no longer standing. It was used from the date of its construction until 2004, after which the building served as storage for the city. It was demolished in 2015. During this time, it gained notoriety as being haunted. For further information, see my entry on the jail in “Alabama Haunt Briefs.”

Old Calaboose
Orline Street
Wetumpka 

Old Calaboose Wetumpka Alabama
Old Calaboose in 2016. Photograph by Lewis O. Powell, IV, all rights reserved.

Standing near the riverside in downtown Wetumpka is a small brick building with tiny windows and a single, solid door. This old calaboose, from the Spanish calabozo, meaning dungeon, was the first jail in the area, having been constructed around 1820. It could house only two prisoners at a time. This location was featured on the Wetumpka Haunted History Tour in 2016 and activity there was only vaguely described.

Sources

  • Wetumpka-Elmore County Chamber of Commerce. Wetumpka Haunted History Tour. 28 October 2016.

Old Coffee County Jail
329 Putnam Street
Elba

The ruins of this 1912 jail hold perhaps a number of spirits. This building was the scene of the assassination of the county’s sheriff in 1979. This, combined with the usual negative energy found in jails, may contribute to the building’s haunted nature. For further information, see my entry on the jail in “Alabama Hauntings—County by County, Part II.”

Old Covington County Jail
Behind the Covington County Courthouse
101 North Court Square
Andalusia
 

Situated behind the county courthouse, this jail was constructed in 1916 and has been probed by paranormal investigators on at least two occasions. Writer and investigator Faith Serafin, who led a team through the building, remarked that evidence of spirits within the building is “beyond a shadow of a doubt.” For further information, see my entry on the jail in “Alabama Hauntings—County by County, Part II.”

Old Rock Jail
Corner of Jackson Street and AL 22
Rockford

Old Rock Jail Rockford Alabama
The Old Rock Jail in 2020. Photo by Jimmy Reynolds Jr., courtesy of Wikipedia.

Legend holds that the spirit of an inmate who committed suicide remains to walk the halls of this old jail. This three-story structure, constructed in 1842, is the oldest stone jail in the state. It served the county until 1938. The building is now owned by the local historical society and operated as a museum and events venue.

Sources

Old Townley Jail (private)
Off Main Street
Townley
 

Located in woods just off Main Street in this small Walker County community, are the ruins of the old jail. These remains, on private property now, are reportedly haunted. A young lady reported on GhostsofAmerica.com that she and her friends had several frightening encounters while investigating there one night. The group heard chains in the empty building and took several pictures with anomalies. 

Sources

Pauley Jail
Behind the Bullock County Courthouse
217 North Prairie Avenue
Union Springs

Behind the courthouse stands the intimidating Pauly Jail named for the Pauly Jail Building and Manufacturing Company of St. Louis which constructed it in 1897. The building is among the oldest jails still in existence in the state. Like many jails of the period, executions were conducted here using the trap door on the second floor. The condemned may remain here in the form of voices, odd sounds, and fleeting shadows.

Sources

  • Fox, Jovani. “Paranormal research team investigates Pauly Jail.” Union Springs Herald. September 2009.
  • Higdon, David and Brett J. Talley. Haunted Alabama Black Belt. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.

Sipsey City Hall
3835 Sipsey Road
Sipsey

Like Townley above, Sipsey is also a small town in Walker County. City Hall once featured jail cells, but those have been disused for some time. Perhaps the remaining cells may be the cause of paranormal activity experienced throughout the building. According to a report from the Alabama Paranormal Research Team, an investigation in this building turned up a surprising amount of activity.

Sources

  • Alabama Paranormal Research Team. Investigation Report on the Sipsey City Jail. Accessed 29 November 2012.

Winston County Courthouse
10 Blake Drive
Double Springs
 

Winston County Courthouse Double Springs Alabama
The Winston County Courthouse, 1995, by Calvin Beale, taken for the USDA.

This 1894 county courthouse also houses the county jail. According to a post on HauntedPlaces.org, a jailer has had a series of unusual experiences here. One night after getting a bag of chip from a vending machine, the jailer’s chips were knocked from his hands but a cool breeze. A comment on the post from someone who spent time incarcerated here states that “old lawman” still walks the corridor.

Sources

  • Kay, Steven M. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for the Winston County Courthouse. March 1987.
  • Winston County Courthouse. HauntedPlaces.org. Accessed 23 May 2021.
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