A public meeting was held at the Old Warrick County Jail for the community to discuss ways it can possibly be restored last Oct. 3.

Restoring the old jail, which was built in Boonville in 1877 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, would cost $750,000 to $800,000.

The restoration efforts of the old jail started a few years ago when the Warrick County commissioners, along with the community development corporation Boonville Now, became its champion.

Rather than returning the jail to it's old glory, Boonville Now and the commissioners want to repurpose it.

Later this month, Boonville Now is hosting a fundraiser, with all proceeds benefiting the Old Warrick County Jail restoration. The 3rd Jail Break 5K run/walk on Oct. 28. The race starts at 7:30 a.m. on the corner of 4th & Main Street. Visit BoonvilleNow.org for information and registration.

David Wills and Russell Frederick, principal architects with Hafer and Associates, presented at the meeting last week, where they showed a potential layout for the old jail if it were to become a restaurant -- inspired by an idea a citizen gave at a past public meeting over the summer.

Wills, who helped to restore Preservation Hall in Newburgh with Frederick, said the old jail is still in relatively good condition.

"Although, it's probably within maybe five years of being borderline," he said. "But for the most part it's in pretty good shape. There are some brick issues and a lot of the old trim has gotten wet and is starting to fail."

Wills said although the majority of the problems with the old jail is moisture related, the jail is still salvageable.

"There is still a lot here," he said. "There is still a lot to build upon."

Some of the suggestions that were made at the public meeting about the jail included turning it government offices like for Warrick County Economic Development or a meeting space for other groups.

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The idea of turning the space into a winery or brewery was also brought up during a jail tour in early August, but wasn't discussed as an option at the October meeting.

Warrick County Commissioner Marlin Weisheit said the challenge is going to be coming up with the funding.

"And of course as a commissioner," he said, "we have an obligation to maintain this building."

Weisheit said he needs to be able to go to the county council with a justifiable reason as to why they should put money into the old jail.

"We need to convince the council we need to get this done," he said. "We have to get this done. We can't tear it down. We have an obligation."

Marisa Patwa is a graduate of the University of Evansville with a degree in journalism and minor in political science.

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