Dubuque County offices move into old jail building

Published: Nov. 11, 2016 at 4:53 PM CST
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Some Dubuque County employees are spending quite a bit of time in jail. They haven't been arrested; rather they recently moved their offices into the county's old historic jail building.

For more than a century, this historic old jail housed hundreds of convicted criminals.

"You hear stories from people saying this place is haunted and stuff like that," said Dubuque County Veterans’ Affairs Director Randy Rennison.

A space where justice was once carried out is now a place where employees carry out important county business.

The old building is now home to the County Medical Examiner, The County's I.T. Department and Veteran's Affairs office. Prior to the move, the county was paying rent to house those offices.

"We were paying rent for almost $350-400,000 per year for office space," said Dubuque County Supervisor Wayne Demmer.

The county already owned the under-utilized building. After an $800,000 renovation, it's now a fully functional office, with a few quirks.

"You get some people coming in here and saying, ya know, my dad was in here in 1952, or something," said Rennison.

Stories of prisoners past still linger in the walls. Literally. One of the last inmates wrote poetry on the walls of his cell block.

Something the county kept, to help honor the history.

"It's a beautiful historic building and I hope more people get a chance to come see it,” said Demmer.

Come see it, they say, during regular business hours and experience where the past meets the future.