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Old Jail Museum
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Clay County Historical and Arts Museum

Preserving the legacy and crafts of Clay County’s long history

As its name would suggest, the Old Jail Museum is located in Clay County’s old jail in a building that sits high on a hill on the way to Hayesville’s town square. Built with concrete and cement bricks made on location, the building was a modern and efficiently functioning structure at the time of its construction in 1912Today, the brick structure houses the Old Jail Museum and the Clay County Historical and Arts Council.

Originally, the sheriff and his family occupied the west end of the building, with two bedrooms above and a parlor and bedroom below. The kitchen and dining room were located in the space now utilized as an art exhibition area on the first floor. The building originally had no electricity, light being provided by kerosene lamps.  

Piquing most visitors’ interest are the old jail cells, still intact, on the second floor. Large iron bars surround the two small cells, outfitted as they once were, with toilet, sink, and bunk. Visiting is enough to keep on one the straight and narrow. 

Visitors will enjoy the many pictures of life as it was in the old days, school house artifacts, a collection of farm equipment and Indian artifacts from a local excavation.

The museum also includes rare collections of Cherokee baskets, quilts, masks, and other carvings, and an exquisite life-size model of a Cherokee basketweaver.

Attached to the museum is the actual office of Dr. Paul Killian, a beloved turn of the century doctor in Clay County.  The office contains his desk, medical implements, log books, saddle bags, and other items used by the doctor.

The museum is also next door to the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit. Visit the Homestead to learn about their ancient history and the Cherokee way of life in this reconstructed 17th – 18th century village homestead.

For hours and news of other current events, visit the website. 

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