Adams County Jail Information

Adams County Jail | 45 Major Bell Lane | Gettysburg, PA 17325-8265 | (717) 334-7671

Adams County Jail

The Adams County Jail is located in the historic Gettysburg in the State of Pennsylvania. The old jail has been retired, and is now a part of the historic district in Gettysburg.

Its location within the area is close to the battlefield, near East Cemetery Hill. Out in front of the jail is a historical interpretive center. This is sponsored by the Main Street Gettysburg Association. The historical interpretive presentation details the history of the prison, and its importance to and during the Civil War.

The roots of the Jail as a building in the area, stretch back to 1800. At that time the citizens of Gettysburg wanted their town to be the county seat. In an attempt to accomplish that James Getty, who owned the land, donated it to become the new home of the county prison.

Once the prison was built, it was a fortress like structure. By 1851 it had a 16 foot stone wall that surrounded the building, thus enclosing the prison, and creating a yard for the prisoners.

During the Civil War on July 2nd, 1863 Robert E. Lee used the building as a headquarters for his generals to hold a council of war. No doubt the tactics to be used against the Union Army were discussed, as well as contingencies for retreat.

With that battle completed, and the theatre of war turned to other areas of the United States, the Union Army eventually seized control of the facility. They then used the jail as a holding facility to retaining soldiers or civilians who were accused of violating martial law.

By the end of the year in 1889 Adams County in Pennsylvania had decided to expand the front of the structure. This expansion consisted of adding three stories. The building was continued to be used until 1948.

Since that time two other occupants have used the jail for various purposes. Till 1991 the building was used as a Library, then it was turned into the new municipal building for the Borough of Gettysburg.