A house with an intriguing backstory is on the market in a small Vermont town. All it will take is a buyer with the key to unlock this home’s past.
“This house was the jailer’s house, with the attached jail. Over the years, the house has been updated. It’s been a single-family home for many years, and the jail has just kind of been there,” says the listing agent, Jennifer Allen.
But for a buyer looking to lock up a deal, there’s a minor caveat about the incarceration situation.
“[The jail] is still fully intact. It’s got the bars, it’s got everything, but it’s deteriorated, so it’s definitely not something that someone could just go in and start using it. It needs work. But it is still there and is attached to the house,” says Allen.
Allen isn’t suggesting people refurbish and utilize the jail for the reasons it was built for back in 1878, but she does have a number of other ideas for an enterprising buyer.
“There are some historic things—like the old brick—that wouldn’t be able to be taken out, but somebody could take out the bars and turn it into living space,” she says.
“The sellers were considering making it into a big family room or gathering room that’s attached to the house.”
One possible buyer discussed renovating the space and using it as an antique store.
Luckily, there are no tales of hauntings or creepy noises emanating from the 28-foot-by-40-foot wing that once housed inmates. The space hasn’t been used as the Essex County Jail since 1969, and has no electricity at present.
In the sedate living space, the four-bedroom house features wood floors and high ceilings. Each of the two floors has a bathroom.
“It has had some updates to it, but it still has a lot of its old charm,” Allen says. “There’s a hidden closet in the hallway that kind of blends into the wall. You push on it, and it pops out.”
The house has radiant heat throughout most of the first floor and a newer heating system.
The kitchen is updated, although it retains a vintage stove that has been outfitted with modern features.
“It’s a glass-top electric stove. [The owners] put some really thoughtful ideas into it, to kind of go with the style and age of the house.”
There’s also an island, as well as a walk-in pantry. A dining room, living room, and office are nearby.
The home sits near the town’s historic common area on almost an acre, and has a porch, a private backyard, and a detached barn. Close to where the Connecticut River separates Vermont from New Hampshire, the property is in the northern part of the state, about an hour’s drive from the Canadian border.
Allen says the perfect buyer would be someone looking for a unique property. She told us she hopes someone revives the old hoosegow—but not for the purposes of punishment.
“It would be great to see somebody buy it that would want to create something out of the jail. I’d love to find a buyer that would be able to bring the jail back so it’s a usable space again.”