The Lucas County Sheriff’s Residence and Jail (1916) is a good example of this particular building type. Stylistically it exhibits characteristics of early 20th century revival styles, with a crenellated roofline and porch posts (piers) that have a classical revival feel. The porch itself is heavy, in the manner of the popular Craftsman/Bungalow style of the period. A smaller porch on the east side repeats this design. The building is rectangular in shape with a flat roof sloping gently to the rear. The brick walls feature a simple brick corbelling just below the identification panel on the facade, but other detailing consists of cast stone panels, coping, sills and lintels. The contrast between the light cast stone and the dark bricks produces a pleasing effect.
This building represents one of the important property types identified by Joyce McKay in her Multiple Property Document “Correctional Facilities in Iowa,” the combined sheriff’s residence and jail. This was very popular around the state from the 1850s until World War II. It was a logical solution to the problem of providing oversight of prisoners 24 hours a day. Not only did the sheriff and his family live in the front part of the building, the sheriff’s wife often served as the cook, preparing and serving all meals to the prisoners. The combined residence and jail has become a vanishing building type in recent decades with most of the jails identified as too small and unsafe. The Lucas County Jail is a fine example of this type and should be preserved.
More research needs to be completed regarding the architect and construction methods used, and additional research surrounding the history of the community and the individuals serving as Lucas County Sheriff over the past century. The contractor was Andrew Stephens, also known as A.J. Stephens, the individual who built the home now currently serving as the Lucas County Historical Museum at 123 N. 17th St. in Chariton. The architect was J.P. Cuth of Omaha. Members of the Board of Supervisors at the time of construction were W.A. Elliot, Chair, W.E. Allen, and Fred Yengel a local retail merchant. It is a fine example of the various types of architecture that compose the fabric of our city development.
The Lucas County Jail has been in use by the city of Chariton and Lucas County since 1916 as a law center. It was vacated October of 2011 and is currently not being maintained. It is located at 1015 Linden Ave, adjacent to and behind Chariton’s City Hall. It is a part of the historic fabric of our community. The roof is severely deteriorated and may not withstand a severe winter and significant rain amounts. Human threats: the Lucas County Board of Supervisors will demolish if no other use or owner can be found by Spring of 2012. A new holding facility and law center has been constructed in Chariton and is now in use. The Jail is vacant at this time.