Wiscasset Jail and Museum

Also known as: Lincoln County Jail, Lincoln County Museum and Old Jail
133 Federal St., Wiscasset, Maine


Wiscasset Jail; 1811-1839

Photo taken by Brian Bartlett

View this photo at panoramio.com



Owned by Lincoln County Historical Association. The jail was built in 1809-11 and was considered, at the time, to be humanitarian as it had separate cells and windows (slits). There was no heat until late in the 19th century. It was the third jail in town and from 1820-1824 was the first penitentiary for the new State of Maine, used for the confinement of many notorious felons. The granite slabs used in its construction were from Edgecomb quarries and are 41 inches thick at the foundation and 30 inches at the eaves. These great stones also form the ceilings of the cells. There are six cells on each of the two floors. The third story had quarters for debtors who were allowed out during the day to earn money, but had to return at night. There was a large room used for a work area. In the 1920s, it provided holding cells for prisoners appearing in the nearby courthouse. In 1954, it was turned over to the Lincoln County Historic Association, provided the group maintained it as a museum and opened it to the public in the summer. The Jailerís House burned and was rebuilt in 1837. The jailerís wife provided food for the prisoners and their diet depended upon her generosity and thriftiness. The kitchen has a large hearth and a beehive oven, and the barn has a wonderful collection of old tools.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on January 26, 1970
Reference number
Areas of significance
Politics/Government; Architecture; Social History
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
Correctional facility; Single dwelling
Current functions
Museum; Organizational
Periods of significance
1800-1824; 1825-1849
Significant years
1809; 1811; 1837


19th Century (38,062)
Brick (42,466)
Built 1809 (65)
Built during 1800s (1,279)
Granite (5,091)
House (27,841)
Lincoln County, Maine (100)
Maine (1,882)
Private owner (54,402)
Wiscasset, Maine (7)

Update Log 

  • October 1, 2020: New photos from Brian Bartlett
  • December 28, 2013: Updated by Brian Bartlett: Corrected address, added description
  • December 28, 2013: Photo imported by Brian Bartlett
  • August 26, 2013: Photo imported by Brian Bartlett