Gillham City Jail

The Gillham City jail is a small one-room jailhouse located in the town of Gillham (Sevier County). It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 27, 2012.

In the 1890s, a railroad was constructed through the remote farming community, leading to the relocation of most of the population of the neighboring town of Silver Hill (Sevier County) to Gillham (originally known as Silver City but renamed after a railroad engineer). This large relocation led to a boom in the town, bringing a train depot, an ore mill, and a post office to the community.

Commissioned by town officials and constructed in about 1914, the Gillham City Jail was typically used as a temporary holding place for prisoners or suspects being transferred to a county facility. In the 1930s, the Great Depression hit Gillham hard. When World War II began, many young men left for the military and much of the town’s population went to find jobs in other places. This caused economic difficulties for Gillham from which it never recovered.

Located near the railroad tracks and former cotton gin, the jail has a roof, foundation, and walls made of reinforced concrete. The single-room structure has three windows and a door that are all made of metal bars in a grid design. The jail’s metal door is located on the west side of the building and is held to the building by three hinges; the top and middle hinges are barrel hinges, and the bottom hinge is a T-hinge (a later repair replacing the original hinge). The jail’s door is kept shut by a hasp and staple–style closure that now is fastened by a modern padlock. There are windows on the north, south, and east walls. The windows on the north and south are centered on their respective walls, while the window on the east wall is positioned toward the top of the wall.

The jail is located in a park area on the corner of what is now East Avenue to its east and Front Street to its north. The structure has been preserved and has remained largely unchanged since its construction. The Gillham jail is owned by the municipality of Gillham and is no longer in use.

For additional information:
“Gillham City Jail.” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. On file at the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/SV0069.nr.pdf (accessed July 30, 2019).

Taylor Lawson
Henderson State University

Last Updated: 07/30/2019