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Nelson County Jail
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Nelson County Jail is located in Kentucky
Location: 111 W. Stephen Foster, Bardstown, Kentucky
Coordinates: 37°48′33″N 85°28′3″W / 37.80917°N 85.4675°W / 37.80917; -85.4675Coordinates: 37°48′33″N 85°28′3″W / 37.80917°N 85.4675°W / 37.80917; -85.4675
Built/Founded: 1800
Architectural style(s): Italianate, Federal
Governing body: Private
MPS: Early Stone Buildings of Kentucky Outer Bluegrass and Pennyrile TR
Added to NRHP: January 08, 1987
NRHP Reference#: 87000178


The historic Nelson County Jail in the Bardstown Historic District in Bardstown, Kentucky is a property on the National Register of Historic Places. It is next door to the Old Talbott Tavern.

The property served as Nelson County, Kentucky's jail from 1797 to 1987. The old jail was originally built in 1819, with the addition built in 1874. It has two stories, three bays and an attic, with a total land area of 36 feet by 56 feet. The stones of the main building is of laurel dolomite, and are 30 inches thick. The roof is gabled. There was living space for the man employed as jailer, and was done in the Federal architectural style.[2][3]

The 1874 addition is behind the 1819 main building. It is a two story, five bay building made of dry stone.[4] When it was constructed, the entire first building was made into the jailer's residence.[3] A tall stone wall was built around the new jail.

When placed on the National Register it was still an active jail, the only such early stone jail still in use in Kentucky.[5] It currently serves as the Jailer's Inn Bed and Breakfast, having stopped being an active jail in 1987.[3] After Nelson County stopped using it as a jail, it was sold on public auction. It was purchased by Paul, Challen and Fran McCoy, and in 1989 opened as a bed and breakfast.[6] It has six guest rooms, with one of the rooms featuring bunks that were used by the prisoners during its years as a jail.[7]

The Travel Channel ranked the place as one of the ten most haunted places in the United States.[8] One of the purported ghosts was of a man, Martin Hill, who died painfully while waiting to be hanged for murdering his wife.[9] A psychic that spent the night said that most of the spirits were peaceful.[10]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.  
  2. ^ Murray pp.1,2
  3. ^ a b c "Jailer's Inn Bed & Breakfast". Retrieved 2009-01-28.  
  4. ^ Murray p.2
  5. ^ Murray p.1
  6. ^ Montell p.177
  7. ^ Packe, Cathy (May 3, 2008). "The Complete Guide to Kentucky". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-01-28.  
  8. ^ Starr, Patti. "Home of the Ghost Hunter". Retrieved 2009-01-28.  
  9. ^ Santore, Beth. "Jailer's Inn". Grave Addiction. Retrieved 2009-01-28.  
  10. ^ Montell p.178
  • Montell, William Lynwood (2001). Haunted Houses and Family Ghosts of Kentucky. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813122279.  
  • Murray-Wooley, Carolyn (December 1983). Nelson County Jail NRHP Nomination Form. Kentucky Heritage Council.  


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