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Boswell Jail

Location Class:
Built: 1937-1939 | Abandoned: 1965
Status: Abandoned
Photojournalist: Bobby Gilliam

The Boswell Jail according to the placard above the doorway dates 1906 as when it was built. Although a local NRHP nomination dates it as being completed in 1939. Further evidence of it being built later than 1906 is a government Sanborn map from 1916 that shows no jail at that location at the time. The jail is made of concrete with two separate cells each containing two barred windows. The roof is slanted to allow water to roll off and both doors carry a steel strap design. The jail project was rumored to be funded by the WPA which is the first instance I’ve ever seen.

The jail would have been used mostly as a drunk tank or for petty thieves as a short-term punishment. According to the placard, the jail stopped being used in 1965, later than most of the other jails I have researched.

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Click to access boswellcityjail.pdf


Boswell City Jail – Boswell

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Emily Cowan

Emily was brought into the Abandoned OK Team in December of 2019. “I’m not gonna lie I fangirled a bit. My first published post I was ecstatic, I felt like I finally had the right audience for my work. The opportunities that came with it made me love the website even more. I remember my first interview with a couple at Waukomis Christian Church. They had bought and restored the 1897 church and insisted on keeping the original sanctuary despite being advised on moving it. We talked with them for at least a good 40 minutes about the church, the abandoned Waukomis Middle School beside it, and the towns other disappearing buildings. They even rang the bell for us that has sat in the bell-tower for the last 120 something years ago. We could tell they were just as passionate about preserving Oklahoma’s dwindling history as we were. When interviewing people and hearing the first-hand stories and recollections of a place and seeing how a person connects to a building, it forms a connection between not only you and that person but yourself and that building.”

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