Situated in a restored 1878 jail, The Old Jail Art Center is a widely-acclaimed art museum dedicated to the visual arts and to preserving the local history of the Shackelford County area. It has a permanent collection that rivals its big city counterparts. Chinese porcelains, jades, and tomb figures from the Han through the Qing dynasties share space with works by Renoir, Picasso, Matisse, and Calder. The Old Jail Art Center actively collects the work of young artists, and showcases young artists in its annual "Emerging Artist" exhibition. In addition to the permanent fine art collection, the Center includes Sallie Reynolds Matthews' Historical Room and Watt Matthews Ranching Collection among its many assets.
Don’t’ forget to explore the intricacies of the jail itself, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. You can easily see why the building was known for several decades as "the alphabet jail." The "M" and the "E" are known to be the initials of Scottish stone masons named McGuire and Emery, while the "X" and the triangle are thought to be the marks of illiterate stone masons. These initials were carved into the limestone blocks to ensure payment for work done. Considered very modern at the time of its construction, the jail was used for more than half a century until it was abandoned in 1929 in favor of the "new" jail one block to the west.
The Old Jail Art Center