The Old Pickens County Jail (1906-1982) at 141 North Main in Jasper is Pickens County’s third jail. In 1906 the jail was considered escape proof with metal ceilings with concrete poured on top. Pauley Jail Building Co. of St. Louis furnished and installed the steel jail equipment. Local artisans completed the marble and brick exterior at a cost of $28,631. The marble came from the Southern Mill in Marble Hill, GA.
The Marble Valley Historical Society took possession of the building in 1982, and spent approximately $150,000 renovating the two-story building. The sheriff’s family lived on the first floor with cellblocks for men and women on the second floor. Today, the jail is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The first floor room on the right was the children’s bedroom. It now houses displays of early Pickens County, the marble industry, and maps. The first floor room on the left was the sheriff’s “family room”. It contains a tribute to the Cherokee, Mississippian, and Woodland Native Americans of North Georgia. The first floor back room on the left was originally a bedroom. It later became the sheriff’s office and booking room. In the first floor room to the right, the sheriff’s wife prepared meals in the kitchen for the family as well as the prisoners. In the 19th and early 20th centuries the sheriff’s wife maintained a garden behind the jail. Upstairs are two cellblocks—one for males and one for females.
A portion of the second floor is dedicated to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms agents. Pickens County sheriffs and deputies helped ATF agents find and destroy illegal moonshine stills in the area. Also on the second floor is a working gallows that was installed when the jail was built in 1906. It’s never been used. The building is owned by Pickens County and maintained by the Pickens Historical Society.
Stephen Kirby originally from Spartanburg, South Carolina, moved to Pickens County in 1862 and purchased the Dunbean property. His family chose not to move to North Georgia, and after seven years, he divorced his wife and married Mary Mann in 1869. Kirby established the first school in Jasper, Kirby Academy. He paid all the school bills, until shortly before his death. He and wife Mary were active in the Jasper Methodist Church and are buried in the church’s cemetery. Furnishings in the cabin came from the Williams Family from the Yellow Creek Community.
Under the direction of the late Tom Quinton, educator, in 1975 the cabin was constructed from logs that had been used in the original log cabin of Stephen and Mary Mann Kirby on the Old Federal Road about two miles south of Jasper. Mr. Quinton frequently used the cabin in instructing Pickens County students about their mountain heritage.
Additional restoration was done in 2006 by the Pickens County Master Gardeners which designed and maintained the heritage garden at the cabin.
The History of Pickens County Jails
When the Pickens County Sheriff’s Department moved into the new jail in January 2006, it became the fifth jail for the 153-year-old county. Early prisoners were housed in Forsyth and Cherokee Counties.