By 1949, the old jailhouse was beyond repair, and in March of that year, the city council ordered it torn down. The construction of a new jail was ordered, with the city council directing that the old cell doors and windows from the old jail be re-used as a cost-saving measure. The new facility was built on the northwest corner of Second and Howard streets, sporting a brand-new neon “Police Dept” sign.
The new station also had an office for the marshal, a dispatch office, work room, and garage. The city was once again able to house its own prisoners. New technology also came to the police department, including radio communications and investigative tools that aided in the department’s crime-fighting capabilities.
In 1967, despite some remodeling, the police department was out of room. So the city purchased the former Neubert Furniture Store building at 213 Lyon Street. It was gutted and transformed into an up-to-date law enforcement building with a dispatch center, lobby, a squad room, and administrative offices.
Four large jail cells were constructed, the iron-grate doors of which may have come from the earlier jails. For a while, the police department also ran the ambulance service, so a dorm room with shower facilities was provided for the EMTs, along with a garage for the ambulances.
A fuel pump with an underground tank was installed at the rear of the building so police vehicles could be fueled at the station. Inset in the brick above the front door of the building was a freshly-cut Carthage marble slab inscribed “Police Department.”
The neon sign that had hung at the old station was affixed to the corner of the new station. The building at Second and Howard was then torn down, as it did not meet the newly-enacted building codes.
Improvements were constantly being made to the Lyon Street facility. A Korean War-era military surplus generator was eventually installed, so the building would have electricity in the event of a power failure, and storage/work rooms were added within the garage.
In 1980, the building underwent a major remodel to the front offices, and during the late 80’s, two of the four jail cells were converted into much needed office space.
By the early 90’s, it was clear that the expanding department was once again outgrowing its facilities.
In 1995, construction of a brand new police headquarters began on what had been the city parking lot at Third and Maple streets, and in the summer of 1996, CPD had a new home.
Along with a state-of-the-art jail (which did not use the old cell doors), the new building featured a drive-in basement for more secure prisoner transport, parking of police vehicles, secure storage when needed, and a locker room for officers. More than double the office space was provided on the main floor, as well as a training room, conference rooms, evidence processing and storage, and of course, a communications center to take advantage of ever-advancing technology.
Page 2 of 2 - The marble “Police Department” slab was removed from the front of the old edifice, and was set in a marker at the front of new facility. The building at 213 Lyon was later purchased by a local financial institution for use as a data-processing center.
For the foreseeable future, the current building at 310 W. Fourth St. will continue to serve as headquarters for the Carthage Police Department.
While we may not have an “Old Carthage Jail,” we do have the old neon “Police Dept” sign – still in working order, it hangs in the basement of the “new” facility as a nice historic reminder. Ask to see it if you ever tour our department.