'Crime and Punishment' museum needs help - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

'Crime and Punishment' museum needs help

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ASHBURN, GA (WALB) -

A popular attraction in Turner County is a piece of history that's been restored, but now it's in need of serious renovations.

The Crime and Punishment Museum was shut down several months ago, and community leaders are worried if they don't get the help they need it will all be torn down.

A window sill inside the Crime and Punishment Museum was the first sign of deterioration.

"That sort of got us concerned and we started looking and there was more and more and more damage," said Michael Geoghagan with the Turner County Chamber of Commerce. "We didn't know where it was coming from."

The museum was eventually shut down in late January after workers noticed the ceiling sagging, as it was full of water.

Sitting on top of the ceiling is the old Turner County jail.

"With no support it could come out, so we try not to even come in this room if we can avoid it down here," said Geoghagan. "And of course you can smell the mold."

The jail was built in 1906 and was operational until the 80's. The sheriff lived downstairs, and the prisoners were housed upstairs.

The jail was eventually turned into a museum in the 90's and houses a noose, artifacts, a replica of the electric chair and the last meal café.

"This is our history and some of it is not something we are not really proud of, but most of it is very good history," said Geoghagan.

Now community leaders are working to save their piece of history, before it literally falls apart.

"The stories are just everywhere and if we lose that we just have a hole in the ground and our history is gone and we'll never get it back," noted Geoghagan.

And leaders are concerned once the construction begins, more problems will be found.

The county has agreed to pay for the majority of the $15,000 roof project.

But the historical society will have to come up with the deductible, which is about $2,500 and they're holding fundraisers to meet that amount.

Longtime Sheriff Lamar Whiddon was the last sheriff to use the old jail.

He died of cancer in 1993, during his 17th year in office. Now, there's a memorial for him at the new sheriff's office. 

"His family, if it was agreed to be done for them and their sake, as somebody who gave that much time to a community, I think it was the honorable thing to do. Just make sure it was done, carry out what was already agreed to do," said Sheriff Andy Hester.    

Hester says Lamar Whiddon's son asked him to carry out the dedication when Hester took office in 2011.   Sheriff Hester says Whiddon was a strong sheriff whose legacy will forever live on.

Commissioners approved the memorial and building dedication in 1994.  It wasn't officially done until 2012.

 

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