Where do you hide the key to the Jail? In Richland County it has always been hidden in the safest place: right out in public where anyone can see it.
The Sheriff’s Department built in 1880 next to the old courthouse was designed by the same architects who conceived the Reformatory, and included a series of roofline ornaments, like lightning rods, typical of the Victorian style. On the highest peak of the building, rising above the front door, and above the second floor residence where the Sheriff and his family lived, was a decorative Master Key.
When the new courthouse was built in the 1970s, the main wing was situated right on the spot where the old Sheriff’s building stood, so when the old structure was torn down the architect carefully removed the Master Key from the rooftop and mounted it above the door of the new County Jail facing Second Street.