In 1857 New Castle County constructed a new prison complex on this site. Designed by famous Philadelphia architect, Samuel Sloan, the facility had two parts. The Sheriff's House (seen at left in this 1893 photo) provided a roomy residence for the County Sheriff and his family. The prison (to its right) could house as many as forty inmates. The 1885 plan below shows details of the complex.
The county seat moved to Wilmington in 1881, but the Sheriff's House and County Jail remained in service until 1902 when the new county prison opened at Greenbank. The jail in New Castle was town down in 1912. The Sheriff's House continued to be used, most notably as the home of New Castle Club and, finally as the city police headquarters until 1997. The National Park Service now manages the Sheriff's House as part of First State National Historical Park.
The whipping post and pillory in the New Castle Prison Yard are shown in use in this 1896 painting by Edward Lamson Henry. Delaware was the last state to abolish the whipping post. The last whipping was in 1952, but the state did not outlaw the practice until 1972.
[1893 photo courtesy of] Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware
[1885 floor plan] Courtesy of the Delaware Historical Society