HOME - Front Page
Heritage \ Writings \

Bay County Jail (1872-1940)
Northeast corner of Center Ave. & Jefferson St., Bay City, MI.

History of Bay County, Michigan 1883

County Seat.

Immediately after the organization of the county, the county seat was located in Bay City. A resolution was passed at a subsequent meeting, changing it to Portsmouth, but it never went into effect, and was afterwards, at the meeting of the board changed back to Bay City. The two lots, where the court house and jail now stand, were set apart by the proprietors of the village for county buildings. In the Fall of 1858, while Gen. Partridge was sheriff, a wooden building was erected for a temporary jail, on Sixth Street, near Saginaw Street, and was used until destroyed in the fire of 1868. A wooden building belonging to James Fraser, on Water Street, was leased for a court house, and was used as such until 1868, when the present court house was built on the site before designated. After the destruction of the jail in 1868, a one story wooden building, erected for the purpose by James Fraser, was leased until 1870, when the present jail building was erected on Center Street, nearly opposite the court house. This is an elegant modern style , two-story, white brick building, combining residence for the sheriff, with iron line jail in the rear, the cells of boiler iron being two stories in height in the center of the main room, with large corridors between the gratings and the outer walls. The upper story of the building is fitted with accommodations for females and fraudulent debtors; the whole structure is furnished with the most approved modern appliances for the safe and healthy detention of prisoners., pending their trial. Water pipes and closets are arranged with an eye to the comfort and health the prisoners, while measures for their proper use of the same are fully provided for. The jail is esteemed a model one, and both it and the court house are taken as patterns by surrounding counties in similar erections. The cost of the jail building and court house was about $75,000. They are credit to the county, and ornaments to the city.

  • Note: Bay County was orginazed in 1857, at which time Lower Saginaw became Bay City.

    1905 history. (Added Nov., 2008)

    History of Bay County, Michigan, by Ausustus H. Gansser, 1905

    BAY COUNTY JAIL.
    ------

    Page 112:
    In the fall of 1858 a cheap wooden building for jail purposes was erected on what is now Sixth street, near Saginaw street. Sheriff Partridge did not have any vicious prisoners, for the shack would not have held them for a minute. This primitive bastile was destroyed by fire in 1863.

    Page 175:
    The little wooden jain on Sixth street, between Water and Saginaw streets, was wiped out in the great fire of 1863, and was replaced by another wooden building on Seventh and Monroe streets, which was used until 1870, when the present commodious County Jail and sheriff's residence was erected. This building is a two-story structure, of white brick, with iron-line Jail, the cells of boiler iron being two stories high in the center of the main room, with large corridors between the gratings and the outer wall. The upper story has apartments for female prisoners and fraudulent debtors. The whole structure is furnished with all modern appliances assuring the health and comfort of the prisoners. The Jail building also cost originally $40,000.

    1872 new jail. (Added Nov., 2008)

    Pauperism and Crime in Michigan in 1872-73.

    BAY COUNTY JAIL.
    -----

    A new and expensive jail is being erected in this county, opposite to the court-house, in Bay City. It has a Mansard roof, with dormer windows and a tower, and is one of the most showy buildings in the city. A large part of the expense of this building seems to be in the construction of that part to be occupied by the sheriff or jailer as a residence. At the time of the visitation the jail proper was but simply enclosed, so that its probable effectiveness and convenience when complete could not be ascertained.

    A frame building used as a jail, at the time of the visit, was leased property and contained eleven cells. It was in a miserable condition for the confinement of prisoners; and yet there were nine men imprisoned in it, one of whom was a debtor confined under the non-imprisonment act. The general condition of this building was one of shabbiness; yet seven hundred and sixteen persons has been imprisoned in it at various times during the year.

    Charities and Corrections in Michigan. - 1873.

    BAY

    A new and expensive jail is being erected in this county, opposite the court-house, in Bay City. It has a Mansard roof, with dormer windows and a tower, and is one of the most showy buildings in the city. A large part of the expense of this building seems to be in the construction of that part to be occupied by the sheriff or jailor as a residence. At the time of the visitation the jail proper was but simply inclosed, so that its probable effectiveness and convenience when complete could not be ascertained.

    A frame building used as a jail, at the time of the visit, was leased property for the confinement of prisoners; and yet there were nine men imprison in it, one of whom was a debtor confined under the non-imprison act. The general condition of this building was one of shabbiness; yet seven hundred and sixteen persons had been imprisoned in it at various times during the year.

    Biennial Report, Michigan State Board of Corrections. - 1873.

    Bay. (Bay City) - The jail is 35x47 feet, built of brick and iron, warmed by a furnace, and ventilated through windows and lattice doors. Sewerage good. There are twenty-four cells, 5x8 feet and 8 feet high, all made of iron. No special provision for female and boy prisoners, or for insane and idiotic persons.

    History of Bay City, Michigan 1875.

    Bay City Jail:
    Almost directly opposite the court-house is the county jail, a two story brick building, very effectively ornamented, and make of what is usually only a unsightly pile of brick and stone, a noteworthy addition to the architectural adornments of the beautiful squares on which it fronts. The cost of the jail was about $35,000.

    Report of the Michigan State Board of Corrections. - 1882

    BAY

    The jail is at Bay City; of brick; two stories; building 35x60, but jail proper is 35x46; lined throughout with boiler iron; heated by furnace; ventilated by windows; six foot hall all around cells inclosed by iron lattice from floor to ceiling. Hall four feet wide inside iron lattice around cells; twelve cells 5x8 on each floor, - six on each side, making 24 in all. One cell on each side and on each floor was fitted with a closet seat and water-pipes, intended for use as bath rooms, but no such use was made of them. The fault here lies with the management and not in construction. Separation between prisoners so as to prevent free communication is not practicable. Sewerage good; ventilation very defective; beds and blankets very dirty. Women's prison on third floor of sheriff's part of building; four good-sized rooms. Six female prisoners when visited, all occupying the same room. Walls of female prison disfigured with charcoal pictures. Sheriff, George Washington.

    Additional Notes:

      From Bay City directories.
      1878 Miron Bunnell sheriff Bay County, res jail, s e cor Jefferson & Centre.
      1883 Charles A. Marsac, sheriff; William H. Lennon, under sheriff; Deputy sheriffs: P. J. Perrott, Henry Woods, Frederick A. Meyers, George Frost, Wm. O. Fuller, John Comfort, Wm. A. Hell, George Hannon.
      1893 Gunterman, Henry Sheriff Bay County, res. County Jail, Center ave. s. e. cor. Jefferson. Tanney, Michael J. - dep. Sheriff, bds County Jail.

      From Biographies:
      Barclay, Johnathan S. - sheriff, 1856 & 1861
      Brock, Martin W. - sheriff, 4 years.
      Cotter, John R. - deputy sheriff
      Fitzgerald, Wm. B. - sheriff
      Kinney, Henry J - sheriff, served 8 years, also Bay Police Dept.
      Lennon, Wm. H. -- seriff, West Bay City
      Marsac, Octavius A. - sheriff
      Partridge, Benj. - sheriff
      Perrotte, Patrick J. - sheriff
      Purtell, James - deputy sheriff
      Simons, Nathan - sheriff
      Washington, George - sheriff

      Note: These biographis are located in the Writings/People menu.



  • Related Pages & Notes

    Bay County Jail

    This jail with and its a beautiful water fountain it was demolished in 1940 to make way for a newer building.
    -- The jail was designed and built by Dillon P. Clark.
    Related Pages:
    Clark, Dillon P.
    Partridge, Benj. F.
    1860 Jail Escape.
    People Referenced
    Barclay, Johnathon S.
    Brock, Martin W.
    Bunnel, Miron
    Comfort, John
    Cotter, John R.
    Fitzgerald, Wm. B.
    Fraser, James
    Frost, Geo.
    Fuller, Wm. O.
    Gunterman, Henry
    Hannon, Geo.
    Hell, Wm. A.
    Kenney, Henry J.
    Lennon, Wm. H.
    Marsac, Charles A.
    Meyers, Fred. A.
    Michael, J.
    Partridge, B.J., Sheriff
    Perrott, P.J.
    Purtell, James
    Simons, Nathan
    Washington, Geo.
    Woods, Henry
    Subjects Referenced
    Bay City, MI
    Bay County, MI
    Court House
    Fire of 1863
    Jail, 1st Wood
    Jail, 2nd Wood
    Jail, brick
    Portsmouth
    Sheriff's residence
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.