Historic Structures

Burlington County Prison, Mt. Holly New Jersey

Date added: November 4, 2009 Categories: New Jersey Prison

On May 9, 1799 a resolution was introduced at a meeting of the Freeholders that a work house be built at Mt, Holly and that the sum of four thousand dollars be raised. The resolution was postponed for a year, but it appears that there was much discussion as to the employment of prisoners while in confinement.

The next record concerning the building of a jail appears in the records of the board on May 13, 1807 when the two commissioners were appointed to purchase a lot in the town of Mt. Holly whereon a suitable county jail could be erected; the land was purchased from Zachariah Rossell and adjoined the court house property. These two commissioners were also to contract and procure materials for the jail and the sum of two thousand dollars was appropriated for that purpose. A new committee was appointed to provide a plan for the work house and the jail; this committee consisted of Charles Ellis, George Anderson, Daniel Hancock, Caleb Newbold, and Daniel Nowbold, During the year 1808, the committee on planning reported progress; the committee on material reported purchases have been made. On February 13, 1809 the committee appointed to procure a plan made a report to the board. Their report embodied the following recommendations:

  • Buiilding to be 80' front by 20' deep with 2 wings or flanks of 20 each to be built of stone.
  • Basement or office story to consist of a kitchen, washing room, felons eating room, ten factory or work shops two to be 15'9" X 6' two others 13'2" X 9'3", remaining 6 shops 8' X 6'. This lower story is part below the surface of the grounds and part above.
  • Principal story to contain keepers office, sitting and lodging rooms, debtors common hall and 8 cells.
  • 2nd story: 4 debtors rooms and 8 cells together with dungeon which is placed directly over the keepers office.
  • All rooms to be vaulted from the basement or office story to the roof
  • All rooms to be floored with oak or heart pine and passages paved with brick
  • The walls and ceilings of keepers rooms and debtors common hall to be finished with 3 coats of plastering and all rest of rooms to have walls and ceilings rough plastered and whitewashed.
  • Windows of hall and debtors chambers to be secured with iron bars.
  • Doors to be made of oak planks lined with sheet iron and hung in iron frame.
  • Dungeon to be lined with oak planks.

On March 7, 1809 Caleb Newbold, George Hancock, and John Bispham were appointed as commissioners to superintend the building. The building was started in 1809; the commissioners were authorized to start as soon as the season permitted. There are various reports from the committee during 1810, and then on February 11, 1811 the committee reported that the jail was newly finished and as soon as the walls dried the building would be ready for the prisoners; at the same time the committee reported it had expended $21,679.72. It was not until February 8, 1813 that the committee was able to give the full detail of the cost of the building. The total cost was $24,201.13.