1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home in Independence, MO
One of the oldest surviving examples of early architect Asa Beebe Cross’s work, the “1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home” saw much history. One of the oldest surviving examples of early architect Asa Beebe Cross’s work, the “1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home” saw much history, from the housing of Wild West Outlaw Frank James to the bloody Quantrill Raids.
A native New Jersey son, Cross migrated west in the 1850s and designed such noted buildings as the “Kansas City Union Depot”, “The Pacific Hotel”, “The Blossom House Hotel” and the “Gillis Opera House.”
Alas, not every one of the period was a fan of Asa B. Cross’s work. The 384 square foot “Kansas City Union Depot” with its hodgepodge French Chateau, Gothic, and Victorian-inspired design elements was nicknamed by some “The Kansas City Insane Asylum.” Much boisterousness was made not only over the building itself but also over its accompanying behemoth of a clock tower that stood an impressive 125 feet high.
About the Jail
The jail area contained 12 stark limestone cells that gave off a dungeon feel to its unfortunate inhabitants. In 1859 the jail, thanks to the “Little Gods” also known as Union Provost Marshall’s, became overflowing with not only outlaws but women and children as well.
The overcrowding caused makeshift jails to be made that resulted in the death of several female prisoners. This event provided the impetus that Guerrilla fighter William Quantrill and his followers needed to launch a bloody campaign against the region that subsequently resulted in the forced evacuation of several counties including Jackson.
At the time of the forced evacuations famed luminous style artist George C. Bingham was living in Independence and immortalized the tragic event in his famous painting entitled “Martial Law.”
Bingham’s attention to detail and lighting makes “Martial Law” a poignant testament to the sentiments of the day. It helps give clarity to the rage that was prevalent on both sides of the abolitionist movement.
About the Marshal’s Home
The accompanying “Marshal’s Home Museum” is the original Federalist style home that once housed the city’s marshal. It is located just a few feet from the jailhouse itself. It is said to house an impressive collection of purloined homemade inmate weaponry.
Visitors to the “1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home Museum” can visit both locations for one admission price. As of 2010 admission to the “1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home Museum” is $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for children ages 6 to 16. Children under 6 are admitted for free.
The “1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home Museum” is open from April 1st until October 31st. The hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm and on Sundays from 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm.
Combination tickets that combine admission to these two attractions along with others in the city are available as well. Details on the combination tickets can be found on the museum’s website.
1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home Museum
217 North Main Street
Independence, MO 64055
Additional information about architect Asa Beebe Cross and his controversial designs can be found online as can more information about the jail, Marshal’s home, and other Independence, Missouri attractions of note.