Jail Hill Inn History | Galena Illinois

Our History

From Jo Daviess County Jail to Luxury Bed and Breakfast in Galena, Illinois.

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In 1878, Jo Daviess County built a new jail to replace the older one, which was previously destroyed by fire. The four-story, Empire-style, brick and limestone building measured 8,000 total square feet and cost $16,000 to build.

The bottom two floors served as an office and residence for the sheriff and his family. The third floor, capable of holding up to a dozen male prisoners, featured a poured concrete over steel floor to ensure inmates couldn’t dig down and reach the jailer’s family. The fourth floor housed female inmates.

Used as a jail until 1977, the building then sat abandoned for 26 years. Several attempts were made to repurpose the structure, but before completion the project was foreclosed upon.

In 2015, Galena-native Matthew Carroll saved the jail with his vision to turn it into a luxury inn that preserved its historic features, yet offered modern conveniences.

With 45 windows (some 9 feet tall), an exposed 14-foot tall, curved brick ceiling, the original 4th floor beams and unique vaulted ceilings, the history and original architectural details of the inn are a remarkable sight.

After a seven month renovation, Jail Hill Inn’s first guest checked in on December 26, 2015.

To learn more about Jail Hill Inn’s history, view the collection of old jail records, historical documents and vintage jail photos on display at the inn. 

  • Construction began in 1878 to replace the older jail that was destroyed by fire.
    The structure cost $16,000 to build.
  • The building measures at 7500 total square feet and is 40×45 feet in size.
  • The bottom two floors of the four story building served as a residence for the sheriff and his family.
  • The third floor is where the prison cells were and had six 5’x8′ cells capable of holding up to a dozen prisoners.
  • The second floor features brick archway ceilings that were part of the security for the jail and  the floor above was built with iron beams and the entire floor covered in iron plates.
  • The walls of the building are 24″ thick, which you can see by the thickness of the window ledges.
  • There are 44 windows total and 13 of them are over 9 feet tall.
  • The building was last used as a jail in 1977 and then was sold, gutted of its components and sat abandoned for 26 years before it was used as a private home.
  • Matthew Carroll took possession of the building in February 2015 and was granted a Special Use Permit  from the City of Galena to convert the building to a six suite small inn in March 2015.
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A short video on our restoration

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