The Montgomery County Jail at Crawfordsville, IN, was the first rotary jail constructed in the United States (1881).

The jail features a two story, 30-ton rotary mechanism that housed 16 wedge shaped jail cells. The jail mechanism was built above a basement which included a circular brick wall underneath the rotary jail’s perimeter to keep gear tracking stable. Although more expensive to build, this kept the rotary jail in working order far longer than other rotary jails such as the one later built at Gallatin, MO, where adjustment arms were used on jail cells suspended from an central axis. Thus, the Montgomery County Jail was the first rotary jail ever built in America and the last to be in actual operation (1973).

The Crawfordsville jail was also distinctive for its handsome sheriff’s residence which was added after the jail’s initial construction. A heating plant, located in an adjacent building, was converted into a community center in more recent years.