The Old Jail

The Old Jail, Chambersburg: Hours, Address, The Old Jail Reviews: 4.5/5

The Old Jail
4.5
Speciality Museums • Historic Sites
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Tuesday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
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About
TOURS AND LIBRARY Thurs.-Sat. 10a-4p. We suggest you call ahead to ensure guide availability. Properly worn masks are required for visitors that are not fully vaccinated, including children. The Franklin County Historical Society - Kittochtinny has been the county's historical society since 1898 and resides in the Old Jail, built in 1818. Guests may take a guided tour the original and 1880 cell blocks, dungeons, exercise yard, and other areas of the building. Admission: Adults $8, children $7, family rates available. See website for details. The tour involves going up and down steps and takes about an hour. A four room genealogy library is available to guests on the second floor of the jail. Librarians are on duty to assist with research. The Society also operates the John Brown House, where the abolitionist stayed while planning his raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859. Report to the jail first if taking a tour of the John Brown House. The gift shop is open to walk ins during open hours.
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

4.5
92 reviews
Excellent
70
Very good
16
Average
4
Poor
0
Terrible
2

Peter O
Buffalo, NY86 contributions
Went 10/31/20 first thing in the morning. Tom, the tour guide, SUPERB! Kept us interested and well versed in the jail, and all the history surrounding the area! Tour was a little over an hour and a pleasure! Would advise you to stop if you are in the area or even a quick side trip. Lots of fun and laughs!
Written November 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Lancer8599
Hancock, ME92 contributions
Family
There is a small fee ($5 / person or $10 / family), but you get a tour guide (and your money goes to a good cause - historical preservation) that will take you through the Old Jail. I took my wife and two daughters (who aren't into history - like myself) and they liked it too. You can walk into the old jail cells (kids will love this). You can also see history about: Indians, the railroad, music, medicine, Civil War, French and Indian War, Underground Railroad, etc... Upstairs you can even do genealogical research (if you have family from Franklin County). A great stop if you are just visiting. It will take you about 45 minutes to take the tour (more if you like to take your time). The John Brown house is right down the street too (another must see!).
Written July 23, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Dutch1638
Fayetteville, PA317 contributions
Couples
If you're in the area, don't miss this gem. Yes, it's a $5 admission (adults) but that gave us a great escorted tour of the Old Jail, Civil War history, and the Underground Railroad, and the Confederates torching the town inn 1864. Fascinating to read the letter a Yankee wrote; the false fireplace used to hide fleeing slaves; the Indian artifacts from the area; the jail itself (3 floors) and the gallows in the "exercise yard". Chambersburg is a small town and this is a gem. Certainly, if you're used to great museums and restored towns, etc. you'll ridicule this endeavor. But, we found it well worth the $5 and glad we didn't miss it.

You can be in-and-out in 30 minutes or less but we spent almost 2 hours there. If you're looking for genealogy, they have an entire area devoted to that. Plan on climbing narrow stairs (no elevators) and being constantly reminded to "watch your head".
Written June 6, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Joel S
Chambersburg, PA61 contributions
Family
Got to bring the grand daughter and her friend to the Haunted Jail this year. The society does a good job setting up the jail to entertain and raise some needed funds as well.
The girls, 11 years old, had a fun walk through enjoying the efforts to scare them.
Give it a try next year...
Written December 1, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Tracy E
Baltimore, MD81 contributions
Check their website for current times, it seems to depend on the day and the season. Looking around is also dependent on the number of volunteers/docents available that day- there are no self-guided tours. However, when we went, we were the only people there, so that probably won't be an issue for you- but you may want to call ahead to be sure someone can show you around. There is a large parking lot next door to the building, seems to be shared with the offices next door.
They have a little bit everything here- from colonial period to more recent history. And while we discussed the Civil War era, the museum is not Civil War-centric- it's much more about the history of Chambersburg in general, and the jail as a building in particular. Our tour guide knew his stuff backwards and forwards, and I could tell he really loved his town and its history, even recommended a few places nearby to eat. He was also very interested in genealogy and there was a small genealogy library with a nice microfiche computer upstairs, if that interests you. My only disappointment was not being up to go to the upper levels of the cell block- I think it's closed off for safety reasons, but I wanted to experience the view from up there. However, you can go into a few cells on the ground floor of the block, in 'solitary,' and downstairs in the kind of 'dungeon' area.
The tour took about an hour, hour and a half. The building is three floors - there are some steep, irregular steps downstairs to the 'dungeon' area, and some less steep, but narrow, steps upstairs, if mobility is an issue. There are permanent exhibits and rotating ones, so check their website for special events.
Overall, boyfriend and I had a good time and we learned some new things. Recommended.
Written October 16, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

pastorjohn
Chambersburg, PA36 contributions
Couples
I live in the area and have taken the tour of The Old Jail several times. Its a place my wife and I take guests who come to stay with us. Those we have taken have always said it was a great experience.

Operated by the Franklin County Historical Society, the tour guides (we have had several different ones) are informed and interesting. You learn about the penal system, some stories of specific inmates, and some local history. This jail was built in 1818 and was a functioning jail until 1970. Several were hanged in its courtyard, and a replica of the gallows is there.

I recommend you call before going to make sure a tour guide is available. (717-264-1667). From May – October its usually open Tuesday - Saturday, and Thursday - Saturday the rest of the year.

The cost is about $5.00, and the tour lasts about an hour. You can combine a tour of the boarding house where John Brown planned his raid on Harper's Ferry, which is only a block away, and also worth the time.

Though I've taken the tour several times, I look forward to the next time we have company and take them for a tour of The Old Jail and The John Brown House.
Written December 21, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Nancy H
22 contributions
Couples
The Old Jail in the Franklin County Historical Society Building is a terrific find. Parking is available for a limited number of cars on the grounds. (Watch the one way streets.) Many unique artifacts and fascinating stories you don't read about in history books. See an actual reconstructed gallows. The John Brown House is icing on the cake. Take both tours. Then go on to Sharpsburg to the Antietam BattleField National Park and then to Harpers Ferry.
Written October 16, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

cherie r
1 contribution
Family
The tour was fun and interesting. Our guide, Bob, was very informative and knowledgeable on the history of the jail and John Brown House plus he knew other interesting facts about the area
Written January 6, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Bob C
Chesapeake, VA41 contributions
Family
I went today with a group of 4 adults and 2 young children to tour the Old Jail building in Chambersburg, PA

Neil Rensch was our tour guide and gave a wonderful tour of the facility with a lot of local history added.

While the Jail and its history is fascinating, the added history of the Underground Railroad of escaping slaves if worth hearing about on its own. That history is well presented and stark in its reality as this building played its part during the 1800s and thru the Civil War timeframe.

Well worth the time there...the small kids found it curious also as there is much for them to see on the tour.
Written October 14, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

AUtigerSD
Mount Pleasant, SC9 contributions
Tony did an excellent job, very interesting. Very informative. Did the tour of the jail and the John Brown house. Chambersburg is a very quaint town with lots of history.
Written June 12, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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The Old Jail is open:
  • Tue - Sat 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM


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