New Oxford Fire House
Exterior view
New Oxford Fire House
Basement lockup cell door
New Oxford Fire House
First floor lockup
New Oxford Fire House
First floor lockup cell door latch detail

The New Oxford Fire House Lockups

The original New Oxford fire house is located on West High Street in New Oxford Borough, Adams County, Pennsylvania. Built in 1887, the New Oxford fire house was built by the town and turned over to the fire company late in 1887.

The original New Oxford fire house had the distinction of housing two separate lock-ups from two different eras for New Oxford. On February 10, 2012, staff from the Police Heritage Museum toured the building.

The Entrance to the Basement Lockup

On the south side of the fire house, along the former Western Maryland railroad tracks, is a door leading to the basement level of the fire house.

The door, now flanked by brick piers, is actually two doors. The outer door is a metal door, made of heavy riveted steel straps to provide a secure opening, yet allow light and air to pass through. The inner door is made of wood, to block out the weather and light.

The Basement Lockup

As you enter the basement, in the far right corner is a wooden door with metal bars over an opening. This is one of the cells from the first lock-up.

The existing cell was spartan at best, with two of the walls being stone foundation walls, and the remaining wall and ceiling covered with heavy wood, and a heavy wooden cell door, to prevent escape.

Looking at the remaining structural elements in the basement, it appears that there was at least one more cell, and possibly two more cells, in the basement. To the right of the remaining cell you can see a piece of a wood post on the ceiling that was cut off, apparently removing a partition wall that used to be there. It suggests that there was at least one more cell, or possibly two more cells, to the right of the remaining cell.

The Upstairs Lockup

At some later point in time, two jail cells were built inside of the fire house on the ground floor level, at the rear of the apparatus room.

These two cells were likely added after World War II. It was explained to us that these cells were purchased as military surplus and were originally designed as a brig for a naval ship.

A look inside shows that although these cells are still spartan, they are quite a step up from the basement lock-up in terms of creature comfort.

No longer located in the dark basement, prisoners in these cells would see the light of day shining in the front apparatus door, and instead of being in a damp basement, would be warmed by the fire in the nearby wood stove during cold and wintry days.

There were no facilities in the cells, such as a sink or toilet. A single wash basin was located on the wall outside of the cells in the apparatus room.

Acknowledgements

Our thanks to the Borough of New Oxford for providing us with information and access to the building.

Photo Gallery

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