Old Tolland County Jail and Museum


Contact us at: jail@tollandhistorical.org

View a Virtual Tour and get a sneak peak of what the Museum has to offer.  Each month a different panoramic view will be shown.

Click here for Virtual Tour Link

Tours available off season by calling Museum Director, Kathy Bach at 860.872.7716 (home)

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 mid-May to October.  Our ever forming 2013 Schedule of Summer Sunday weekly events is 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).

2013 Seasonal Schedule

Sunday, May 19   1 – 4 PM


Museum opens welcoming 13 new Interns joining our returning ranks. Orientation and tours on tap.  Probably more spring cleaning!   Visitors are not required to clean!


Sunday, May 26   Noon – 3 PM


Enjoy Memorial Day Parade from our porch and visit the museum before or after the Parade (Some do both!).  Refreshments will be served. 


Sunday, June, 2   1-4 PM


We are still busy planning our season and we want to include you.  So drop us an email at: jail@tollandhistorical.org with your ideas or visit us on Facebook and leave an idea there…and don’t forget to “like”us when you visit Facebook!  Oh and stop by and see what we’ve been up to in the museum…it never looks the same!  We always are looking for your input there too!  The Interns are eager to practice their touring skills!


Sunday, June, 9  1-4 PM


There’s nothing quite like an old fashioned family picnic.  So pack one up and join us on the lawn or at the picnic tables indoors (jailbird style) at the Jail Museum.  Or maybe it is more your style to just stop by and grab a glass of cool lemonade and dessert.  Whatever your pleasure, drop on by and see what’s happening.  There will be planty of games and family stories of the “old days”!

After we close we will be touring the stone retaining wall on Route 74 and attending the Annual Dinner and Meeting at the Tolland Senior Center.  Dr. Robert Thorson from UConn will speak on the historic significance of this wall and why Tolland should continue to safeguard it for future generations.  See Events Page for more details.


Sunday, June 16,   1-4 PM


Discussions of men’s industry in the late 1800s in the shed, refreshments in the dining room.  Bring dad, grandpa and other significant men in you life!


Sunday, June 23,   1-4 PM


Join us for discussions and demonstrations of farm life in the summer months; both the work and the play.  Your visit is geared to the entire family.


Sunday, July 7,   1 – 4 PM

Closed in observance of the Independence Day


Sunday, July 14,  1 – 4 PM


Experience says these are the “dog days” of summer so we chose slower activities.  These games are indoors and out for the family.  Tours and refreshments available.


Sunday, July 21,   1 – 4 PM


We do it the old fashioned way….crank style…and is it ever good!  With the right help we might even have more than one flavor! 

We are having some technical problems with our old crank models so….we are using modern means to search out some old friends… but come on by for tours and lemonade!


Sunday, July 28,   1 – 4 PM


By request we are bringing out some of the stories about our landmarks and people.  it’s all in preparation for our 300th Celebration.  Tours and lemonade!


Sunday, August 4,   1 – 4 PM


First the work, then select a bakery item to spread your fresh butter on.  Always a treat.  Goes well with a refreshing beverage while you tour the museum.


Sunday, August 11,   1 – 4 PM


The big loom will be in operation.  Bring your questions.  Tours and refreshments available.


Sunday, August 18,   1 – 4 PM


Demonstration in the shed display are.

 Refreshments and tours in the museum.


Sunday, August 25,   1 – 4 PM


Cancelled now that the neighboring shade trees have been removed.  If we can make accommodations we will hold this event! 

 Members will share personal experiences in the field.  Vehicles, old tools, butter churning, oxen rides provided by Ray Ludwig, and more.        Museum tours and refreshments. 


Sunday, September 1

Closed in observance of Labor Day


Sunday, September 8,   1 – 4 PM


Bring your favorite photo, story or person.  We are remembering these important people in our lives.  Refreshments will be served.


Sunday, September 15,   1 – 4 PM


Bring the family and join us for some favorite old time games on the south lawn.  We may also enjoy some 20th century style favorites as well!  Music and refreshments.


Sunday, September 22,   1 – 4 PM


The old fashioned way…bring a stromg arm and an appetite!


***Special Date***    Saturday, September 28, 11 – 2 SMITHSONIAN  MAGAZINE  DAY

A national collabrative with the Smithsonian to open museums to the public.  We hope that you take advantage of this opportunity.  If you are a Smithsonian member, remember to bring your coupon. 


Sunday, September 29,   1 – 4 PM


Our chance to thank all our loyal volunteers and visitors who were with us throughout the season.  Please stop and join us for light refreshments and fun.


There will be demonstrations of wood carving, chair caning and rug braiding in the shed classroom on Sundays this fall. 

There’s always a Sunday event at the museum! 

The trial of  the Big Bad Wolf is rumored to be coming to town in conjunction with the Court House Museum look for it this fall.

Remember…we are closed July 7 and September 2 in observance of Independence Day and Labor Day.

Here are some photos from past seasonal museum displays & events: Click on thumbnail photos for slideshow.

Reunion of County Jail StaffCivil War reenactors at Museum Opening DaySeasonal Wedding Attire Displayharry potter day

Click here for Directions to the Jail Museum


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