GREENVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Ghost hunters tell stories of gruesome crimes. Former guards remember an underground dungeon. A crowd is said to have gathered to witness the hanging of a prisoner. So is the lore of the old Meriwether County jail, a 119-year-old relic that is being renovated into a home and museum.
Mariea Gosdin, 59, says she was the sole bidder on the property when the Board of Commissioners listed it for sale in 2009. She paid $5,000 for it.
“They said it was going to cost more than that to tear it down. Even though I think some dark things happened here, I think it’s full of life,” Gosdin said. “That’s what I see for it in the future — a gathering place for family and friends.”
The jail, 60 miles southwest of Atlanta, fell into disrepair after it closed in the mid-1980s. The building is a network of narrow, aged hallways and small, worn prison cells. Its living quarters were home to the county sheriff and his family.
“I was just drawn to it. There is nothing fancy about it. It was built back in a time when people made do with what they had,” Gosdin said. “I want to make do with what I have. I don’t want it to be fancy. I want to keep it back in the era of when it was built.”
Gosdin, who plans to move into the living quarters this summer, said she spent $100,000 to renovate her new home. She plans to solicit the help of investors and historical preservation groups to renovate the jail — a second phase of the project she thinks will cost an additional $100,000 — before she opens it as a museum.