Poconos Coal

Carbon County jail in Jim Thorpe is on the market

JIM THORPE, Pa. - Not often is a jail cell and graffiti from a 19th century death row inmate a selling point in real estate.

In the case of the Old Jail in Jim Thorpe, they're building blocks of success.

"It's a profitable business, a fun business," said Betty Lou McBride, owner.

After 24 years, McBride and her husband have put the Carbon County jail on the market for $750,000.

It has 27 cells, a dungeon, gallows and a lots of stories, like when a prisoner squeezed through a window to escape. The building is best known as the place where seven Irish Coal Miners known as the Molly Maguires were hung.

That nefarious history is a magnet for tourists.

McBride says 24,000 visitors tour the jail in the three months it's open every year.

Greg and Melissa Wakefield came to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.

"We were in the Poconos and staying here. On the way home, this was one of the things we wanted to see," Wakefield said.

69 News asked Alice Wanamaker of the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce if closing the jail would affect the area.

"It would impact visitors coming here to see the jail, the history, put their hand on the wall and see if it matches up kind of thing," she said.

McBride, who gets visitors from every state and a dozen counties per year, calls the sale bittersweet and said they are in negotiations with a serious buyer, with tours set to continue.

"The best part for me is meeting the nice people that walk in and having the chance to talk with them," she said.

The nice thing about owning a jail? Those you like, don't have to go.

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