Criminal architecture

Since 1880s at least, and most likely at least two decades prior, the corner of State/ East Fourth/ Sam Rayburn and North Chestnut streets in Bonham, Texas has been occupied by the Fannin county jail.


(Throughout the years, Bonham has renamed State Street to East Fourth Street and today, it's named for Sam Rayburn Drive. This street is also the old stagecoach route, SH 56, North Texas Road, and US 82).


In 1885, the county accepted bids to build a modern jail to accompany its new courthouse, which was also being built at the time. But Bonham's county buildings received make-overs in the 1930s and 1940s. The "new jail" became the "old jail" as several escapes occurred, and Fannin County demolished it to erect a more modern building on the corner after requesting bids in 1941.


The newer jail also fell victim to the wrecking ball, however. In the early 2000s, the prison was demolished as the county had begun to use newer facilities. And since then, the corner of Chestnut and State/East Forth/Sam Rayburn has sat empty.


Goes to show that even empty lots hold some interesting history.


The Fannin County Jail in Bonham, once.

The Fannin County jail was always on the same spot, as this 1885 map suggests.

The jail is no longer at the corner of Chestnut and Sam Rayburn Avenue.

The jail was surrounded by more structures in this 1902 map.

The Fannin County jail was built in the 1890s, to replace an earlier building, then replaced in the 1930s again, and then destroyed to be replaced by a fourth building outside of the city (BPL).

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