This historical postcard shows a view of the former jail at the corner of Hickory and Third Street in Ottawa (Photo submitted)
This historical postcard shows a view of the former jail at the corner of Hickory and Third Street in Ottawa (Photo submitted)

OTTAWA — The Putnam County Commissioners plan to use CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funds this year to go towards demolishing the former jail in the county at the corner of Hickory Street and E. Third Street. The 116-year old structure is in deteriorating condition and the commissioners say it is unsafe.

According to Cindy Landwehr, Putnam County Wage and Grants Coordinator, the county has requested approval from the Ohio Development Services Agency to use the 2014 allocation of $83,000 to the county for part of the demolition costs of the jail.

“We hope to hear if we have received approval sometime this fall,” Landwehr said.

The former jail building was constructed in 1898. It was in use as the sheriff’s office and jail until 2001 when a new 76-bed jail and sheriff’s office was opened in the Industrial Park, Ottawa.

Currently the former jail is used for office space including the county’s IT office and also for storage of some records.

“We will eventually be able to move those records to the current Putnam Acres site, when their new building is complete,” said Putnam County Commissioner John Love. In August 2012 the Putnam County Commissioners entered into an agreement culminating in Trilogy Health Services taking over the full operations of Putnam Acres. Trilogy is currently constructing a new facility on Putnam Parkway. The county continues to own the current Putnam Acres building. They plan to eventually transition this into a record storage area and offices for the county.

Normally, the county allocates annual CDBG funds to villages and townships for qualifying infrastructure projects.

Once the structure is removed the commissioners plan to convert the space into additional parking for the county.

“We expect the demolition of the jail to take place sometime next year,” Landwehr said.

History of Former Jail
The former Putnam County jail, located at the corner of Hickory and E. Third Street, was built in 1898. During the next 105 years it housed the sheriff and his family along with as many as 48 prisoners. The $19,000 Jail included 12 cells, each holding up to four inmates.

The elected sheriff and his family resided at the former jail until 1977. It was that year that Sheriff Robert Beutler moved out of the jail to make room for expansion. Crime Prevention Unit Detective Division and a juvenile office was added.

Putnam County Sheriffs who resided at the jail included Nicholas Miller, A.L. Tate, Wesley Lammers, Roy McCullough, Clinton Felkey, Wilson Crawfis, Arnold Potts, James Ruhe and Robert Beutler.

This jail replaced a former jail in Ottawa that was built in 1867 and stood on the northeast side of the present Courthouse.

(Historical information provided by Roselia Verhoff and Randall Basinger.)