BEAUFORT, N.C. (WNCT) — The Beaufort Historic Site is months away from completing renovations of the second oldest jail in the state of North Carolina.
The jail was built in 1737, and the goal of the project is to preserve a piece of this North Carolina history so people can enjoy it for years to come.
“When you walk back in this jail, we want you to feel what it was like for them when they walked back in here back in time,” said restoration specialist Mark Carter.
Carter said they’ve talked about doing this restoration project for the last 10 years but just started it in 2019. This is the third large restoration project they’ve done in the last 20 years, the last two winning national awards.
“If you notice the walls with the condition they’re in, they’re not pristine. We don’t want them pristine. So when we go back, it looks like it’s old,” said Carter.
Carter officially started working on the jail six months ago. Those involved say it was a good thing to start during the pandemic because no one could tour the building due to COVID-19 restrictions. Carter said it’s important to keep history alive, especially for a town like Beaufort that continues to grow.
“We’re so quick to tear down and demolish something so quickly, and not maintain our history. To me, this is history,” said Carter.
One thing that is staying authentic is the uneven stairs. Gardner Gooch, an intern and volunteer for the Beaufort Historic Site, said visitors of the jail will see that if the prisoners tried to escape during the night, they would trip and run into the wall.
“I would take them up the stairs and then tell them to watch their step because as they go up, there’s one uneven step,” said Gooch.
Executive Director of the Beaufort Historic Site, Patricia Suggs, said ultimately every little bit helps with this project.
“We have so much support from the community. And we’ve gotten a lot of grants, but every little bit helps with this restoration project,” said Suggs.