Historical Society to rehab old county jail

Canton-Madison County Historical Society members stand in front of one of the old jail cells in the 150-year-old Old Madison County Jail located in the heart of Canton. Pictured, from left: Maureen Simpson, Bill Dinkins, and Bob Montgomery.
Canton-Madison County Historical Society members stand in front of one of the old jail cells in the 150-year-old Old Madison County Jail located in the heart of Canton. Pictured, from left: Maureen Simpson, Bill Dinkins, and Bob Montgomery.
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CANTON — The 150-year-old Old Madison County Jail here will soon undergo necessary renovations so the building can continue to house the Canton Flea Market and other events.

For Maureen Simpson, president of the Canton-Madison County Historical Society, renovations on the Old Madison County Jail will also preserve the legacy of the historic building. 

The jail was built in 1870 and was used to house prisoners until 1969. Uses for it these days include different events and programs, along with it being used during the annual Canton Flea Market. 

The jail was approved for a Community Heritage Preservation Grant on Jan. 22 to cover the costs of needed repairs to the building. 

The grant is for $250,250, and it was given to the society along with almost $3 million more in grant monies by the state for other buildings and landmarks around Mississippi. 

The grant will require the Canton-Madison County Historical Society to provide a local match of $62,562.

According to Simpson, the jailhouse renovations will allow for future events to keep being held in the building. 

“In past years, the Canton-Madison County Historical Society purchased the building from Canton, and it’s served as a counterpoint for the flea market,” Simpson said. “We have over 100 vendors that operate through the old jail on flea market day.” 

Simpson noted the Flea Market vendors have been the incentive to carry on the jail’s legacy. Even though it has not been used as a jail since 1969, people have rented it in years past to hold events and programs there.

The renovations will allow people to keep using the building and also for more widespread availability. 

The grant was awarded to the Canton-Madison County Historical Society. The monies provided will be used for repairing the south wall of the jail where the prisoners were housed. The wall is bulging out and needs fixing. Roofline repairs will also be made.

Simpson said the society has been talking about applying for the grant for the past three years. The man who was originally going to submit the grant, Ricky Quinn, died in October 2019, which halted the process.

She said the death of Quinn caught her and the rest of the society off guard since he was very involved in carrying out day-to-day activities for the jail. 

The jail became eligible for the grant after it was designated as a Mississippi landmark in June 2020 thanks to the Mississippi Board of Trustees and Department of Archives and History, under the provisions of the Antiquities Law of Mississippi. 

“It is good that the jail is getting some recognition and that a historical building like this is being preserved,” she said. “We are trying our best to keep the legacy going.” 

The total cost of the project will be $292,281.13.

For more information go to cmchistoricalsociety.org.


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