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Most inmates are looking for a way to get out of the pen, but soon locals will be flocking to the historic Spencer County Jailhouse to enjoy a meal that will take them back to a simpler time.
Taylorsville Main Street and the Kentucky Gourd Society are teaming up to sponsor the first-annual Dinner in Jail event April 26. The dinner is the official kick-off for the 2014 Gourd Festival, which attracts hundreds of visitors to the area each year.
The Jailhouse — which is located behind the courthouse in downtown Taylorsville — has been sitting empty for years. The four-room facility was last used to house prisoners in the 1980s and then was a craft shop that featured the work of local artists for more than a decade. Main Street and Gourd Society members envisioned a special time to open up the building for a dinner that would accentuate its rich history while raising funds and awareness for the two groups.
The dinner menu is being planned and prepared by David Young at The Tea Cup. While Young prefers to stay behind the scenes, Main Street members agreed the project “was Dave’s baby.” The Jail House dinner menu will include Chicken Lucille, seasoned green beans, fried apples, bread, and a sweet finish with “Aunt B’s” Blackberry Cobbler. Servers will be dressed in prisoner garb and the food will be presented on tin pie plates to capture the essence of an old-time jail.
“There are so many stories there,” Main Street member and former Jailhouse Arts and Crafts operator Glenora Pace said of the building.
The building has three cells and a room that was referred to as the “drunk tank,” which housed prisoners who came in inebriated. One cell includes a hole in the concrete wall where one inmate tried to dig out with a spoon.
“One of Al Capone’s guys even came through there one time,” Pace said.
Spencer County resident and artist Marie Thomas — who is well-known for her paintings of familiar buildings and subjects — painted a watercolor of the jailhouse in 1988. She has fond memories of her and other friends gathering at the jailhouse and painting together.
“We wanted a place to meet and paint, so we rented the old jail and we all met there about once a month and then we sold our work in there, too,” Thomas said. “We all met and had a big time.”
Main Street member and Taylorsville City Commissioner Beverly Ingram said the dinner event continues Main Street’s focus of bringing attention to the historic downtown area.
“It will all be for the city, all for downtown,” she said. “We all love the city.”
Pace said part of the fun of having the dinner at the jailhouse is so people could see that the county actually did have a jail at one point.
“Once, a man brought his teenage son in wanting him to see where he spent way too many weekends when he was his age,” Pace said, referring to when she worked at the jailhouse craft shop.
Tickets for Dinner in Jail are $25 each and are on sale at The Tea Cup and The Red Scooter. They are limited. There will be three seatings, one at 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Guests will receive a goodie bag filled with items from local sponsors, as well as get a “mug shot” taken while holding an inmate number to commemorate the event. Anyone wishing to sit together should buy their tickets together or request seating together.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Main Street beautification and restoration projects.