Old ETX jailhouse for sale; bids starting as low as $25,000

Published: Jun. 12, 2012 at 10:25 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 26, 2012 at 10:28 PM CDT
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ANDERSON COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - One East Texas county is putting one of their most historic buildings up for sale, and bids can start as low as $25,000.

Anderson County is putting their more than 70-year-old jailhouse on the market. It's located at 704 Avenue A near downtown Palestine.

In the 1930s, the old Anderson County Jail was said to be one of the safest and most secure jails of its time. Jailers say it housed some of East Texas's most high-profile criminals. But now it sits vacant, holding nothing but memories.

"Being born and raised here, I can remember my dad was an attorney here and my grandfather was a district judge. So I've been going into the old jail since I was a little kid," says Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston.

It hasn't been used in more than 20 years, but Tuesday we got a peek inside.

The old cells, with their bars and windows, are deteriorating and county officials are looking to make a sale.

"I've shown it to probably a half a dozen people in the last two months. Hopefully we can find somebody who can do some good with it," says Judge Johnston.

The jail is made primarily of steel and concrete, so Judge Johnston says the buyer will have quite a renovation on their hands. Judge Johnston says someone could tear the whole thing down, make money off selling the steel and then start from scratch on the lot. However, that may not be an easy task.

"As far as tearing it down, it's probably one of the best built buildings in town. You'd probably have to take a wrecking ball to it to get it down," says Anderson County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace James Todd.

Todd worked at the jail for Anderson County's longest serving sheriff, Roy Herrington. Todd says at one point, Herrington lived on the bottom floor.

Judge Todd says he'd be sad to see the jail torn down, but is just as sad seeing it sit there vacant.

"I'd like to see it maintained in some fashion. I'm hoping somebody can find some use for it," says Todd.

The jail has been for sale in the past. On Monday, commissioners voted to lower the starting bid from $30,000 to $25,000. Judge Johnson says the decision to sell the jail is purely a business decision and that the county is looking to get the property back on the county tax roll.

Judge Johnston says the people who have toured it have expressed interest in turning it into a restaurant, an office building or a small apartment complex.

Buyers interested in touring the jail can make an appointment by calling the Anderson County Judge's office.

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