It opened as Waynesville’s first fire house in 1881, and a few years later served as its one-cell jail on what was then Tyler Street, according to local historians. However, the future of a historic Waynesville building depends on Village Council convincing a local historical museum to take control of the building to preserve it for community use.
The building located at what is now 260 Chapman St., and known as “The Lockup,” has a colorful history. It housed a steam engine fire truck known as “Old Faithful” back in 1886. That truck, pulled by two horses, replaced the citizens’ bucket brigade in place since the village was founded in 1797.
Waynesville had acquired a movable iron cage in 1871, but in 1886, the village borrowed $400 for a jail cell to replace it, according to an article written by Karen Campbell, who was genealogy librarian at the Mary L. Cook Library in Waynesville. The village built an addition to the “Lockup” building, to house the jail cell.
The building was used as a police station and as a fire house until 1952, when a new fire house was built at 165 Miami St. Since then, it has been used for storage for the township and village to house vehicles and equipment. The Lockup was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
In the past few months, Waynesville council has discussed selling the building because of growing maintenance costs. Earlier this month, Councilman Zack Gallagher questioned if this was a good way to spend taxpayers’ money.
At the Feb. 7 meeting, council agreed to a proposal to donate the building to the Museum at the Friends Home. If the museum’s board agrees to the proposals, the village would sell it for $1 with provisions that require the Museum to return the building to the village if the Museum could not properly maintain the building or wanted to sell it.
Village Manager/Police Chief Gary Copeland said the building had been rented out to tenants in the past, but they have not been successful in renting the building. He said the building needs various things to be done, such as mortar work, new insulation installed, duct and plumbing work. The Lockup also does not have any parking.
However, one thing was made clear by council and Copeland — the village has no intentions of tearing the building down.
Copeland and Councilman Brian Blankenship met with James Prickett, a museum board member, on Feb. 16 to tour the building and discuss possibly donating it to the local museum. Copeland said he is hoping that the museum board, which meets Tuesday, will agree to accept and preserve the old Lockup. He said the museum is a nonprofit that may be able to qualify for preservation grants.
Copeland said last week the village could sell the building to the museum for $1 and have a six-month agreement with the museum so they can decide whether to keep the Lockup or not, with another six-month option. He also said the museum could take its time to make its decision.
“We want to give the museum a chance to do this,” Copeland told council last week. “But they have to go to their board.”
Blankenship said, “its kind of a win-win, and we (the community) keep the historical building.”
Prickett, 70, worked as a barber and has lived his entire life in Waynesville. He wants to take “baby steps,” and told village council the museum’s grounds committee will discuss it Monday before Tuesday’s board meeting.
“I’d like to keep it as kind of a hybrid historical site so others can use it,” he said. “It’s gracious for the village to let the museum have it.”
He said there is some deterioration to address and estimated it would take about $5,000 to address.
“We’re spread thin but I’d love to take this on,” Prickett said. “I’m not sure if the board will take it. Everything seems rushed.”
He also said a local church, Waynesville Community Church, has expressed interest in doing some work on the Lockup.