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The Old Jail

175 E King St, Chambersburg, PA 17201-1806
+1 717-264-1667
Review Highlights
Great for history buffs!

We visited Chambersburg for ICEFEST -18 which had ongoing ice carvings and ice sculptures lining... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
Martin S
A great tour with history and humor

I live in the area and have taken the tour of The Old Jail several times. Its a place my wife and I... read more

Reviewed 22 December 2017
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Read all 68 reviews
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The Franklin County Historical Society – Kittochtinny is a non-profit organization, founded in 1898 to collect, preserve, and make available to the public materials relating to the historical development of the Cumberland Valley, its people, and, even more specifically, to Franklin County. It offers the use of its library and archives to both the serious researcher and the general public during hours of operation. The Society is responsible for the Old Jail museum, the John Brown House, the Brown’s Mill School, the Chambersburg-Bedford Turnpike Tollhouse and the Carrick Furnace. The jail was built in 1818 and survived the burning of Chambersburg by the Confederate Forces in 1864. This building of Georgian design is one of the oldest in Chambersburg and was placed on the State and National Register of Historical sites in 1970. During more than 150 years of use as a prison, The Old Jail housed numerous local criminals, including “Lewis the Robber,” and Captain John Cook, one of John Brown’s men who was captured after the unsuccessful raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. The cellar contains five domed dungeons with rings in the walls and floors that were used to shackle recalcitrant prisoners. Tradition suggests that these cells were also used as a way-station on the “Underground” railway to shelter runaway slaves enroute to freedom in the north. The Old Jail complex consists of the original building erected in 1818, an annex built in 1880 and a yard enclosed by a 20-foot high limestone wall. Several rooms of the original jail and part of the newer cell block comprise a museum of historical artifacts from Franklin County. The visitor experiences the story of the jail through interpretation and learns of the history of crime and punishment in the Cumberland Valley. The John Brown House (Ritner Boarding House) was where the famous abolitionist boarded during the summer of 1859 under the alias of Isaac Smith. During this time, weapons were secretly secured and plans furthered to seize the arsenal at in October 1859. The Society was able to purchase the John Brown House from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 2002 through the generosity of Dr. W. R. McElroy and family. The John Brown House was rededicated and opened on May 2, 2009 as part of the 150th Anniversary of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. The John Brown House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. The John Brown has been restored with period furniture. One visitor remarked that if John Brown came to Chambersburg today he feel right at home at the Ritner Boarding House.
  • Excellent77%
  • Very good17%
  • Average5%
  • Poor0%
  • Terrible1%
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Hours Today: Closed
175 E King St, Chambersburg, PA 17201-1806
+1 717-264-1667
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1 - 10 of 68 reviews

Reviewed 1 week ago

We visited Chambersburg for ICEFEST -18 which had ongoing ice carvings and ice sculptures lining businesses and venues along Main St. Each sculpture was unique {and generally) apropos, especially the masked cowboy bank robber outside the bail bond establishment! The Old Jail tour was interesting...More

Thank Martin S
Reviewed 22 December 2017

I live in the area and have taken the tour of The Old Jail several times. Its a place my wife and I take guests who come to stay with us. Those we have taken have always said it was a great experience. Operated by...More

Thank pastorjohn
Reviewed 21 December 2017

A very unique look into history of the city and the jail. The jail tour includes pictures of early happenings in the bourough and the area. The jail cells are unique and fun to explore.

Thank wrld_tvler61
Reviewed 22 November 2017 via mobile

Drove here over an hour and it’s closed on Tuesday even though own web site and TripAdvisor said open. These folks need to get on the stick.More

Thank PedroSpiller
FCHS K, Front Office Manager at The Old Jail, responded to this reviewResponded 28 November 2017

We appreciate your interest in the Old Jail and are sorry you made a special trip only to find we were closed. Our website indicates we are open Thursday - Saturday throughout November until April. If you found an exception to this, please let us...More

Reviewed 17 October 2017

The Old Jail in the Franklin County Historical Society Building is a terrific find. Parking is available for a limited number of cars on the grounds. (Watch the one way streets.) Many unique artifacts and fascinating stories you don't read about in history books. See...More

Thank Nancy H
Reviewed 8 October 2017 via mobile

What a hidden gem In chambersburg!!! I have always wanted to visit but never did because it was local and I never wanted to take the time. This was the weekend! The tour guide was amazing! This is a must see! Chock full of history!!!!

Thank Mfclingan
Reviewed 16 September 2017 via mobile

Very nice to see the old jail. Take note of the key that you see on the top peak of the roof. Lot of people seem to miss this point. There's a nice-sized courtyard in the back and it doesn't take real long to go...More

Thank Lewis B
Reviewed 7 September 2017

The jail is fantastic. I did not realize how much history it contained. The Historical Society does an excellent job of explaining what it would have been like when used back in the day. You enter the cells and immediately feel like you stepped back...More

Thank AdventureGirlPA
Reviewed 26 August 2017

Had a wonderful visit at the Old Jail. Admission was reasonable and we included the visit to the house where John Brown planned the raid on Harper's Ferry. Our tour guide was very nice and very informative. She went with us to the next stop...More

1  Thank KAG39
Reviewed 9 August 2017

Took my 3 grandsons, age 6 to 12, 3 weeks ago and they loved it. Only takes about an hour but was worth every minute. Kids especially liked the old pharmacy and the dungeon. Great history lesson for younger and older folks. The guides from...More

1  Thank jbeeIII
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Questions & Answers
9 July 2016|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from krstbone | Reviewed this property |
Call them and ask: 717-264-1667 website "franklinhistorical"