Historic Markers Across Alabama

The Jail at Houston

Marker ID: AHC 
Location: Houston, AL
County: Winston
Waymark: None


The Jail at Houston

The Houston Jail is the only surviving log jail in north Alabama. The jail, constructed around 1868 from hand-hewn hardwood logs, replaced an earlier one destroyed by pro-Union men in the county during the Civil War. The logs were covered on the inside by boards measuring over two inches thick and 12- to 14-inches wide. The boards were cut from native timber at the nearby water-powered Partridge Mill on the Sipsey River. Once secured, the boards were peppered with horseshoe nails made by a local blacksmith and placed close together to discourage prisoners from attempting jail breaks by sawing through timbers. The jail had two rooms. Sanitary facilities were small holes in the back wall. When the county seat moved to Double Springs following the formation of Cullman County, the old jail was abandoned. It served as a private residence as late as the 1960s. In 1975, the jail was donated to the people of Winston County by Marshall Alford and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Houston Historical Society began efforts to restore the jail in March 2006. They erected this marker on the 150th anniversary of the founding of Winston County.


Hancock County was created February 12, 1850, and the first county seat was located at Houston on the other side of Brushy Creek, about three miles northeast of this site. On January 22, 1858, the county seat, along with the court house, moved to this location and the name of the county changed to Winston in honor of the first native-born Alabama Governor, John Anthony Winston. Cullman County, created in 1877, took the eastern third of Winston County. Houston served as the county seat for a little over 25 years. In 1884, the citizens elected to move the county seat to centrally-located Double Springs. Steeped in history, Houston was once home to a two-story log court house, jail, and several other buildings housing doctors, lawyers, blacksmiths, a county newspaper, and various mercantile businesses. Today, the jail is the only surviving building from that period in the history of the old ghost town of Houston.

End of The Jail at Houston