Old Owen Sound Jail 2024

Old Owen Sound Jail 2024

Back in January of 2019, I headed to Owen Sound to see if I could find a way into the old abandoned jail and courthouse.

I managed to get in and I spent a few hours inside and in the yards navigating the cold, dark and crumbling rooms, corridors and 19th-century cells.The location has remained a favourite of mine for its uniqueness, advanced decay and for its historical significance.

I went back once while in the area just to wander around at night and get the experience of being inside again.
Then, in early March 2024,

I got an email from a man named Nick Ainis from a company called FC Entertainment & Hospitality Inc.

He told me he had just purchased an old abandoned jail and wondered if I was interested in coming to visit it?

Does a bear 💩 in the woods?

We agreed on a date in April and I would get to come and see the site again, but this time with permission!

Abandoned Owen Sound Jail Video


About the Old Owen Sound Jail

The buildings consist of, the courthouse, constructed in 1853 to 1854, a jail which was built in 1854, as well as additional prison wings built in 1869 and a 3rd floor was also added in 1877.

In 1868 a courthouse addition was added and in 1869 they built the high jail yard walls.

Finally, in 1889 they added the governor’s residence, which would later serve as a women’s jail.

In 1960, the city of Owen Sound purchased the courthouse from the province and then in 2013 they purchased the jail portion as well.

The jail and courthouse closed for good in December 2011 and had seen use as office space and an artists studio.

The city has tried several times to sell the properties since declaring them surplus in 2014.

In 2015, there were plans to convert the space into a long-term care home, or another proposal for an art gallery – both parties backed out as the facility did not suit their needs.

Finally, in May of 2022 a sale was finalized that saw FC Entertainment & Hospitality Inc purchase the property for $50,000 with plans to convert the courthouse, jailhouse, and governor’s residence into an event venue, dining, and entertainment complex, including an interactive museum and shared workspace.

The Future of the Old Owen Sound Jail

The proposal by FC Entertainment & Hospitality In includes a wedding venue, dining and entertainment complex with a shared workspace area, the redeveloped site would also include an interactive museum.

The agreement of purchase and sale includes a multi-step buyback clause to allow the city of Owen Sound to reacquire the property if certain development milestones are not met over time. Notably, it proposes the developer have a building permit and commence construction within two years.

In October of 2023, the plans for the site passed a huge milestone as the city approved the rezoning of the site from institutional to arterial commercial in the official plan and mixed-used commercial in the zoning bylaw.

The new owners’ plans for the property are to retain its heritage features while enhancing and rejuvenating it. The development plans include a glass-enclosed roofed pavilion in one side of the former jail yard and groomed gardens in the other. There will be a restaurant and tea room in the former governor’s residence, a glass connection between the residence and courthouse, a cocktail bar and themed speakeasy bar using the old cells in the former jail, an outdoor courtyard, bridal suites and an event venue in the “prestigious and iconic” courtroom.

The business centre onsite will offer business incubation, co-working spaces and rental office suites.

A front portico, like the one that originally graced the front of the building, will be restored

With the rezoning now taken care of, the task at hand is to establish an overall site plan. Once site plan work is finished and approvals are received they will be applying for a building permit and construction will start within a year.

My Explore of the Old Owen Sound Jail

I arrived bright and early a couple of Sundays ago and was let in by the local security company that Nick had hired to watch the property. Entering the building, the familiar smell of decay hit me and the cold air that blew through the corridors made the inside temperature colder than it was outside. Taking my time, I filmed and photographed as much as I could with no hurry and no worries whatsoever.

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