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Smithville Jail

Location Class:
Built: 1934 | Abandoned: 1964
Status: Abandoned
Photojournalist: Kevin Weaver Mary Buchanan

Smithville Jail is hard to spot if you’re not looking for it, hidden across the street from the school it sits camouflaged by trees. Carved above the doorway is 1934, which is the year the jail was constructed. The small town approved the construction of the new jail on January 2nd of that year. It consists of concrete, stone, and steel bars for the small windows and door.

In 1964 McCurtain County underwent an investigation of the county’s jails all were found to be in good condition except for two. One of those jails being the Smithville jail, the condition was reportedly deplorable and unfit for human inhabitants. The door had to be kept shut using pieces of lumber, it lacked heat, electricity, sanitation facilities and lack of sleeping arrangements. It was advised that it immediately be condemned and abandoned.

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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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