Members of the Panola County Historical and Genealogical Association will be holding several fundraising projects in the near future to help with monies needed for immediate renovation at the Old Jail historical building.

After receiving an estimate for door, window, brick and roof repairs of almost $160,000 from the Texas Historical Commission approved contractor, the members have planned at least two fundraisers. They hope to raise almost the full amount before renovation is completed.

Designed by J.N. Carnes and completed in 1891, the structure served as the Panola County Jail for 62 years. The two-story brick building exhibits Italianate and Romanesque- style influences and features a symmetrical facade with projecting tower, arched openings and corbelled detailing.

It was used as a city jail from 1953 to 1965. The Panola County Jail was recorded as a historical landmark in 1967, and was listed in the National Register of Historical Places by the United State Department of the Interior in 1976.

Fundraisers were approved at the Old Jail Museum’s September meeting. Regular meetings are held the first Wednesday every month at 3 p.m.

Members will sell mugs with the Old Jail embossed on the front. The cost of the mugs will be available for $10 (ceramic) and $15 (travel). The PCHGA hold a cemetery walk in October. During the cemetery walk, docents will be stationed at certain graves, hopefully this event will be held at the Old City Cemetery/Odd Fellows Cemetery. The group is considering making this an annual event similar to the one held at Oakwood Cemetery in Tyler during the Azalea and Spring Flower Trail.

A licensed preservation contractor will have to be hired since the building is both a national and state historical landmark. The Texas Historical Commission has stringent regulations concerning what materials can be used for the renovations, because the finished facade has to look like it did in 1891.

During Phase One of the repair in 2018 and 2019, the roof was repaired. Phase Two is replacing the windows and doors. Also roof repair must be made after recent damage from Hurricane Laura.

Every window will need to be replaced because of rotten wood damaged by wind and water, and then put back into place. Twenty-one full windows, two small windows and three doors will need repair. A window costs $6,000 and a door $6,500. A window can be adopted as full window for $6,000 or half window for $3,000 or a pane for $750. Adoptive supporters will receive a plaque next to their window. Individuals or groups are invited to start adopting.

The last renovation to the old jail began in 1988, as it was converted to a community museum and historical center. Remember all donations are tax deductible as the Panola County Historical and Genealogical Association is a non-profit organization.

During the first renovation in 1987, members only had 10 history books and $8,000. It took almost $100,000 for that renovation. They paid it off by all sorts of fundraising events, including bake sales, rummage sales, a jailhouse rock, trades’ days, chili suppers, cake walks, hamburger sales and sweetheart teas.

The Panola County Historical Commission, with approval of the Panola County Commissioners’ Court, covers the Old Jail eclectic bills. Hotel occupancy tax fund allocates monies to the Panola County Historical and Genealogical Association to preserve the building, archives and artifacts and encourage tourism.

Permanent trust fund monies came from early donations and funds given from Nettie Shaw and Mary Lizzie Martin. Also funds from lifetime memberships go into the permanent trust fund, but the interest goes to the Panola County Historical and Genealogical Association general fund budget.

The Old Jail’s Jo Ann Oliphant quoted Leila Belle LaGrone when she emphasized how much these repairs cost: “Upkeep of an old building is expensive. Some repairs are needed constantly.”

For more information, call (903) 693-3388 and leave a message or talk to whoever answers. To schedule a tour of the museums currently, you must call and make an appointment. Social distancing is observed.