The old jailhouse in Paxton may have gotten a reprieve from the wrecking ball. The Ford County Board had been considering tearing down the 19th-Century jail, but the Paxton Foundation has stepped in and offered to purchase the building.

Built in 1871, the jail must be preserved for future generations, says Royce Baier, president of the Paxton Foundation, which is focused on preserving Paxton’s history. “The thing about small towns like Paxton is there aren’t that many historically significant structures to save, and if this is one of the last ones in the State of Illinois, we sure as the world need to do that,” Baier said.

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The Ford County Board has asked that Baier submit a formal proposal by Feb. 1. As to the future use of the building, that’s still to be determined. Baier says as this point the main concern is to save the structure. “I think our main concern is getting them to get the notion out of their head to tear it down,” Baier said.

According to Landmarks Illinois, the former Ford County Sheriff’s Residence and Jail “is thought to be the earliest building – serving this dual purpose – of its kind in the state.” The jail has appeared on the Landmarks Illinois “Statewide Endangered” list.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio/