Old Tolland County Jail and Museum


The Tolland Historical Society will hold a free fiber spinning demonstration on Sunday, July 25 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Old Tolland County Jail and Museum on the Tolland Green.

It will feature a hands-on experience with drop spindles and a Louet wheel.Admission is free, but donations are always appreciated when you’re visiting.

The Tolland Historical Society is thrilled to reopen the Old Tolland County Jail and Museum to the public on Sundays in 2021, except for the July 4th and Labor weekends. The museum is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and visitors are encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing while in the museum.

For more information about the museum, contact Historical Society President, Kathy Bach at 860-872-7716 or by email at kwbach@gmail.com.  

 History of the Jail

A stone jail built in 1856 and operated until 1968. The attached 1893 jailer’s home displays furniture and collections depicting Tolland life and industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the shed features woodworking, farm and outdoor work.

During the 19th Century, Tolland was the hub of law and order for all of Tolland County. All those who broke the law in any of the towns of the County were tried in the Courthouse, and, if found guilty of misdemeanors requiring jail time of up to one year, would serve their time here, probably working in the barns and gardens on the property and on the 100 acre farm property where the Middle School is today. They might also be assigned to work in the kitchen.

Those accused of felony crimes would be held here until trial, perhaps
moving on to the state prisons, occasionally returning here for a year or less.  They were not allowed out of the cellblock to work while awaiting trial.

The earliest portion of the jail itself, the stone (center) section dating from 1856, was the fourth jail built here. The brick section was added in 1893.

The jail was operated by the county until 1960, and by the state from 1960 to 1968. The 32-cell facility is of interest to young and old. Even some former inmates have visited the jail, and have told stories of life at the old “Hollyhock Hotel”, as it was affectionately known.

Before a disastrous fire in 1893, there was an actual hotel attached to the
jail. It was known as the County House.

People having business with the courts, and other travelers, needed a place to stay, meals, and a livery stable to provide transportation or tend to the needs of their horses. After the courts moved to Rockville, the hotel was no longer needed, and when it burned to the ground it was replaced by a residence for the jailer and his family.

The museum contains  a vast array of fascinating items depicting Tolland life in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, most of them donated by townspeople and actually used in town.

The Museum offers a Summer Internship Program for students entering grades 7 thru 12.  Display construction, artifact care and accessioning, and docentships are a few of the skills that are learned.  Interested students should contact Museum Director, Kathy Bach at 860.872.7716 (home) as soon as possible. 

You will find seasonal displays and weekly events from Memorial Day to October.  Watch for our new Schedule of Summer Sunday events which will be posted below!!!

We are a Blue Star Museum offering Military families free admission from Memorial Day to season close (this is longer than the National program.

Click here for Directions to the Jail Museum