Burlington Jail Restoration

About the Burlington Ohio Jail Restoration

A group of Burlington residents became involved in restoring the crumbling Lawrence County Jail in late 2000. These people knew if something was not done, this building would be destroyed, along with the history surrounding the jail. The Jail was built in 1847 and is the only government office left standing in the town of Burlington, Ohio.

A Committee was quickly formed, and plans made for the Jail to become a museum honoring our ‘Underground Railroad History’. This was one of the routes in Lawrence County, Ohio that has been documented as being part of the Underground Railroad. That route ran from the banks of the Ohio River, through Macedonia Church, up through Poke Patch, and onto Northern Ohio. The Underground Museum would house the Burlington-originated J. Dillon pottery collection, which has already been committed by one resident.

The old Lawrence County Jail in Burlington, Ohio is surrounding by historical sites such as the Burlington 37 cemetery, Macedonia Church, Riverside park, and the old Johnston House. Future plans are hopeful that a Genealogy Library being proposed by Briggs Lawrence County Public Library will happen.

This Museum will provide a historical and cultural attraction for individuals, families, school, civic and church groups, as well as other organizations. This will be an opportunity for out children and future generations never to forget the trials, tribulations and triumphs of those early settlers who founded Burlington.

Facts About the Burlington Jail

  • Lawrence County’s first county seat was established at Burlington in 1817.
  • The same year the old Log and Frame Jail was built in Burlington, the next year the courthouse was built next to the jail.
  • After a jail breakout occurred in the summer of 1846, the County Commissioners agreed to accept bids for construction of a new stone jail. Before the bids were accepted, an inmate set fire to the old log jail which increased the need to finish the jail. John Sperry won the bid and finished the stone jail in 1847.
  • In 1852, Lawrence County’s county seat was moved to Ironton and the jail and courthouse was abandoned. The Commissioners turned the Jail over and from there it exchanged several different people’s hands before the Historical Jail Committee was formed in late 2001.

<hJust a Few Supporters of this Project:


  • -Dale Burcham
  • -Judge Walton
  • -Judge David Payne
  • -Sue Deeds
  • -Ted Strickland
  • -Lawrence County Commissioners

What You Can Do To Help Restore the Jail

  • Volunteer your services and time to help with any physical assistance. Email Dave Milem for additional information!
  • Offer to serve on the Historical Jail Committee which oversees the development of the Musem on this historical site. Email Dave Milem for additional information!
  • Make a monetary donation, no matter how large or small, to help restore the Jail to the dream of becoming an Underground Railroad Museum for Burlington. The Lawrence County Commissioners already have the land rights to the land adjourning the Jail property. The Jail Committee have already received enough donations to make the down payment on the jail property. Email Dave Milem for additional information!
  • The real challenge will be the restoration and renovation work needed to complete this project. We are asking the help of everyone who is wanting to see this dream come true. Restoration of this Historical Jail will enrich everyone, including our children who will be able to take field trips to see what our heritage was like in the early days of Ohio’s beginnings. It will be surrounded by other historical sites such as the Burlington 37 Cemetery, Macedonia Church, Riverside Park (which was undoubtly an area the slaves came ashore when escaping the slavery of the southern states), and the old Johnston House.Email Dave Milem for additional information!