Saving Old Jail In Belmont County

The old Belmont County jail building, adjacent to the courthouse in St. Clairsville, is more than a century old. As county Commissioner Mark Thomas put it, however, the stone structure is built like a fortress.

Still, it is showing its age. The interior needs repairs. The exterior looks, well, dirty from generations of grime.

Commissioners have agreed to spend $112,500 to have the building cleaned thoroughly and painted. Damaged mortar also will be repaired.

Fortunately, part of the price tag will be paid through a $50,000 grant from the Ohio History Connection. The remainder will come from the county’s share of proceeds from gambling casinos elsewhere in the state.

Once that project is completed, commissioners will consider interior renovations. It is likely that will be even more costly than the exterior work.

Commissioners are right to be investing in the old jail building while it remains structurally sound. Too often in other areas, valuable old buildings are neglected to the point that they cannot be salvaged — and pieces of history have to be put under the wrecking ball.