PO Box 422   •   109 Houston Street NW   •   Preston, MN 55965
(507) 765-2181   •   innkeepers@jailhouseinn.com

Featured in
"FORTUNE Magazine"
(October, 2017)
...a repurposed historic
building: Hotel Minnesota
"From Cells to Suites"

JailHouse History

JailHouse History

The Old Fillmore County Jail and Carriage House
Circa 1869
a National Historic Place

The Fillmore County jail was "authorized" by the Board of County Commissioners on September 5, 1868, when they resolved to "erect a new county jail for the safe keeping of prisoners." A bond sale was authorized on that date not to exceed eight thousand dollars. 

On November 20th of 1868, seven hundred fifty dollars was appropriated "for the purpose of paying for lots on which to build the County Jail and plans and specifications for said Jail…" On January 9th, 1869 the committee appointed by the Board of County Commissioners was authorized to increase the amount to be expended on the construction of the Jail to twelve thousand dollars. 

Construction of the County Jail commenced shortly after February 9th, 1869, when a payment (the first) was authorized in the amount of one thousand dollars for the services of the Jail’s contractors, Buss Dauchy and G. R. Parker. Subsequent payments resulted in action by the Board of County Commissioners on January 5, 1870, "on motion resolved that as the Jail and Sheriff residence built for Fillmore County by Mssrs. Dauchy and Parker as per contract with the Board of County Commissioners is found complete as per plans and specifications be and is hereby accepted by us." 

Occupancy of the Fillmore County Jail and Sheriff’s residence occurred shortly after this acceptance and payment of "the sum of two thousand dollars from the County Fund as a final payment on contract for building Jail………" 

In July of 1899, at a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, the notion of "planning the remodeling of the old Jail" was entered into the record. On August 5th of 1899, a extra session of the Board was held to hear the report of the County Auditor who was delegated by the Board at the last session, to confer with Secy. Jackson, Secy. Of the State Board of Charities, relative to the contemplated improvements of the County Jail and to make such improvements as seemed advisable, considering the lateness of the season. Owing to the lateness of the season, it was decided to simply put in a cess pool and thereby improve the sanitary condition this fall and leave the improvements until the Jan. Session, when the matter would be taken up either with the intent of carrying out the recommendations of the State Board which as a new Jail entirely, or to remodel the Old Jail….the said committee are hereby instructed and authorized to cause to be dug at the Jail in a convenient location a cess pool 12 feet in diameter and not less than 20 ft. deep and as much as deeper as may be required to give proper drainage. 

On May 15th, 1900, "at this time Secretary Jackson of the State Board of Charities arrived and the Board listened to his explanation of the State Board of Health’s action in the condemnation of the Fillmore County Jail. It was learned from Secretary Jackson’s report that the Fillmore County Jail in its sanitary condition and construction was the worst in the State and that beyond a doubt Fillmore County would be barred from using said Jail at all within a short time. The next day, "Whereas, the Fillmore County (Jail) has been repeatedly condemned by our own grand juries….the best interests of the people can only be served by building a new jail or remodeling the old one, therefore be it resolved by the Board of County Commissioners of Fillmore County that the old jail be remodeled at the lowest possible cost, in such a manner as to comply with latest approved plans relative to sanitary conditions and safety and also to comply as provided by statures with the wishes and views of the State Board of Health." 

After careful consideration, on June 16th, 1900, the plans and specifications prepared by the Pauly Jail Building and Mfg. Co. and recommended by the State Board of Charities were adopted. On motion, the Auditor was instructed by the Board to "advertise in two issues of the Preston Times for bids to reconstruct Jail, for cell work and for heating." July 9, 1900, "The Pauly Jail Building and Mfg. Co. of St. Louis, Missouri, being the lowest was on motion accepted at $10,401.29. Said bid was including steam heating apparatus cell work patent Kay Bar…Therefore be it resolved that the contract for the reconstruction of the Jail and for the addition of building to house patent Kay Bar cells be awarded to Pauly Jail Building and Mfg. Co…for the Jail proper according to the plans and specifications now on file in the Auditor’s office and to include additions, steam heating apparatus and patent Kay Bar." This action by the Board of County Commissioners resulted in the addition of two stories being constructed to form a "T" shape to the original Sheriff’s residence and Jail. Further, storage for the County Jail and Sheriff’s residence was added to the site in the period following completion of the addition of the cell work addition. This Carriage Barn first appeared in the Commissioners Record Books in 1906, when the county paid an insurance premium on the Jail and Carriage Barn. 

From this time frame (circa 1906) until 1970 when the Fillmore County Jail relocated from 109 Houston Street to it’s new quarters at 901 Houston Street the Old Fillmore County Jail and Carriage House was associated with the administration of law in Fillmore County while serving as the Sheriff’s residence, office and courtroom.

From the time the "old Fillmore county jail, courthouse and sheriff’s residence" closed in 1970 until 1982, a portion of the old jail, primarily the sheriff’s residence area, served as a private home for Gerald and Lillian Dornink grocery store owners.

During this time period the property and structure was nominated and subsequently placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the month of August, 1980. The Minnesota Heritage Preservation Association, Inc. described the Fillmore County Jail, constructed in 1869-1870, remodeled in 1900 and the adjacent Carriage House, constructed ca. 1900 to be significant historically due to their association with the administration of law in Fillmore County for one hundred years. The jail building housed the county jail, sheriff’s office and residence, and courtrooms from 1870 to 1970. The adjacent carriage house served as storage for the sheriff’s vehicles and jail equipment. Both the jail and carriage house are situated on a promontory on the northwest fringe of Preston’s central business district. 

For value considered, the property and structure were conveyed to the city of Preston on December 29th, 1986. In January of 1987 109 Houston street was sold to Steven and Deb Niedfeldt for $1.00 and other good and valuable considerations for the purpose of developing the property into a bed and breakfast inn. After considerable restoration and interior re-construction the JailHouse Inn opened as a historic bed and breakfast inn in late October, 1989. The first room for lodging completed was the Oriental bedroom. Additional rooms were completed in the months and year following the completion of the Oriental bedroom, however, the Inn remained incomplete through the month of June, 1991 when the JailHouse Inn became the property of Farmers and Merchants Bank of Preston. The Inn closed briefly in July of 1991 and re-opened in August under the management of the bank until it was acquired by Marc and Jeanne Sather of California. The Sather’s assumed ownership of the JailHouse Inn on New Year’s eve, of 1991. On-going re-construction and interior and exterior restoration continued resulting in the last room for lodging, the Drunk Tank being completed in mid-1993.