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1910 Hidalgo County Jail Closed for Renovation: Learn the history of this Texas landmark with “Stories from the 1910 Jail.”

“Stories from the 1910 Jail”

Story #1: A Texas Historic Landmark

The Museum of South Texas History has closed the 1910 Hidalgo County Jail galleries in preparation for a multi-year, major renovation of the building.  The Spanish Mission Revival-style building served as the county jail from 1910 until 1922, and it later functioned as a community center, city hall, and fire station. The museum first opened its doors to the public in the jail in 1970, and the building has remained an anchor to the growing museum complex as well as a regional landmark.  In 1966, the building was recognized as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.

“The 1910 Jail is a treasure for the region,” notes executive director Shan Rankin, “and we are privileged to be entrusted with the careful renovation of this century-old building. Several years ago, the museum hired a preservation architect to create a master plan for the building’s renovation.   A portion of this master plan was completed in 2008 when the roof was repaired and replaced with historically-appropriate tiles.  Now we are preparing to pursue the larger and more complex renovation of the rest of the structure.”

Closing the jail allows the museum to make several changes to prep it for “surgery.”  Inside, the museum has removed contemporary panel walls to allow the original walls to breathe and release moisture. In removing the contemporary walls, some of the building’s original character and construction details have been revealed, including original windows and locally-made bricks.

“Although the building is closed to the public, the museum will continue to tell the Jail’s story,” notes museum public relations officer Martha Peña. “The museum’s website features photographs of the newly-revealed interior, and we will continue to post information about the building’s history, style, construction, and renovation, as well as information about fundraising efforts for the jail. When renovation begins, the museum will work with contractors to provide updates on the Jail’s progress through various media.” Peña also notes the museum’s other exhibitions remain open, including the Freddy Gonzalez display.

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