Forts Trail Region


Shackelford County’s first permanent jail, located in the county seat of Albany and completed in 1878, served the region’s citizenry for more than half a century. No doubt jailers in the two-story stone building stayed fairly busy during that time, particularly with a parade of nefarious characters passing through nearby Fort Griffin. But jail traffic was never busier than today. Now known as the Old Jail Art Center, this Texas Landmark building, restored and reopened in 1980, and has since become a thriving, widely-acclaimed art museum dedicated to both contemporary visual arts and the local history of Shackelford County. The jail’s reinvention is a familiar story to Albany, a 19th century frontier town that superseded the original county seat – Fort Griffin – during a period of decline in the Fort’s necessity (the region’s military efforts were swift and permanent) and a rise in the ambitions and prosperity of local citizens. Today, Albany’s main street offers a walking tour through its historic district including its superbly restored courthouse, a Second Empire style edifice of native limestone with a copper roof and ornate clock tower. Albany’s historic architecture and first-class contemporary art collection suggest that its exterior may be antique but its spirit is thoroughly modern.