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The Old Jail

175 E King St, Chambersburg, PA 17201-1806
+1 717-264-1667
Review Highlights
Take the tour!!!

Took my 3 grandsons, age 6 to 12, 3 weeks ago and they loved it. Only takes about an hour but was... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Early American History from Pre-Colonial to Civil War and beyond.

The Old Jail is operated by Franklin County Historical Society and is a great place to get oriented... read more

Reviewed 11 July 2017
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Read all 59 reviews
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The Franklin County Historical Society – Kittochtinny is a non-profit organization, founded in 1898 to collect, preserve, and make available to the public materials relating to the historical development of the Cumberland Valley, its people, and, even more specifically, to Franklin County. It offers the use of its library and archives to both the serious researcher and the general public during hours of operation. The Society is responsible for the Old Jail museum, the John Brown House, the Brown’s Mill School, the Chambersburg-Bedford Turnpike Tollhouse and the Carrick Furnace. The jail was built in 1818 and survived the burning of Chambersburg by the Confederate Forces in 1864. This building of Georgian design is one of the oldest in Chambersburg and was placed on the State and National Register of Historical sites in 1970. During more than 150 years of use as a prison, The Old Jail housed numerous local criminals, including “Lewis the Robber,” and Captain John Cook, one of John Brown’s men who was captured after the unsuccessful raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. The cellar contains five domed dungeons with rings in the walls and floors that were used to shackle recalcitrant prisoners. Tradition suggests that these cells were also used as a way-station on the “Underground” railway to shelter runaway slaves enroute to freedom in the north. The Old Jail complex consists of the original building erected in 1818, an annex built in 1880 and a yard enclosed by a 20-foot high limestone wall. Several rooms of the original jail and part of the newer cell block comprise a museum of historical artifacts from Franklin County. The visitor experiences the story of the jail through interpretation and learns of the history of crime and punishment in the Cumberland Valley. The John Brown House (Ritner Boarding House) was where the famous abolitionist boarded during the summer of 1859 under the alias of Isaac Smith. During this time, weapons were secretly secured and plans furthered to seize the arsenal at in October 1859. The Society was able to purchase the John Brown House from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 2002 through the generosity of Dr. W. R. McElroy and family. The John Brown House was rededicated and opened on May 2, 2009 as part of the 150th Anniversary of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. The John Brown House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. The John Brown has been restored with period furniture. One visitor remarked that if John Brown came to Chambersburg today he feel right at home at the Ritner Boarding House.
  • Excellent76%
  • Very good18%
  • Average6%
  • Poor0%
  • Terrible0%
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Hours Today: 10:00 - 16:00
175 E King St, Chambersburg, PA 17201-1806
+1 717-264-1667
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Reviews (59)
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1 - 10 of 59 reviews

Reviewed 1 week ago

Took my 3 grandsons, age 6 to 12, 3 weeks ago and they loved it. Only takes about an hour but was worth every minute. Kids especially liked the old pharmacy and the dungeon. Great history lesson for younger and older folks. The guides from...More

Thank jbeeIII
Reviewed 11 July 2017

The Old Jail is operated by Franklin County Historical Society and is a great place to get oriented to the historical placed in the County. Just down the street is the John Brown House where he planned the raid on Harpers Ferry. The Docents are...More

Thank TJTravelers_13
Reviewed 11 June 2017

Since we were in the area, we went to the family history room to see what they had. The volunteers were very helpful and we found a few things we didn't have before. We didn't have time to take the full tour, but what we...More

Thank cmitch920
Reviewed 25 May 2017

The two of us were ushered through he old jail and a boarding house where John Brown plotted. Our guide gave us an extensive tour with much information. Well done and worth the time.

Thank dgbeery
Reviewed 23 May 2017

The Old Jail has many things to see and enjoy. They have a tour guide to explain how this place was used as a prison and they show the old jail cells. It also is part of the under ground railroad. It was used to...More

Thank lauries0
Reviewed 26 April 2017

If you are into history, and particularly history of the local area, this is well worth the visit. The guide was knowledgeable and the tour was very interesting. There are numerous exhibits. We were lucky enough to be the only ones on our tour but...More

Thank britgal60
Reviewed 24 April 2017

We all had a most enjoyable visit to the museum on King St. in Chambersburg. The tour of the jail was most interesting and informative and the tour guide gave us the personal experience of actually being there in bygone days, from the town's beginnings...More

Thank cmehaffey2017
Reviewed 17 March 2017 via mobile

This is a somewhat interesting tour of an old jail but there are all kinds of diversions thrown in. You hear a small bit about a lot of unrelated subjects and you don't hear a lot about the jail. The tour is led by a...More

1  Thank Kent F F
Reviewed 14 March 2017 via mobile

The Old Jail was very interesting and the tour guides are very knowledgeable. My son is a huge history buff and loved every minute of our tour. You are able to learn a lot about the history of Chambersburg. We are not from the area,...More

Thank Jrathel
Reviewed 25 February 2017

A lot of information about the area as well as stories about the jail. I found the history of it's use on the Underground Railroad particularly interesting.

Thank mscooke10
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Questions & Answers
8 July 2016|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from krstbone | Reviewed this property |
Call them and ask: 717-264-1667 website "franklinhistorical"