History

Burlington City, founded in 1677, was the first settlement in Burlington County, the capital of the Province of West Jersey and the county seat until 1796. The first jail was located in the basement of the courthouse. This was replaced in 1767 by a separate stone structure used until 1811 when the Burlington County Prison in Mount Holly was completed and ready for use. When the county seat was moved to Mount Holly in 1796, the federal-style courthouse was newly completed the same year. It took another fifteen years, however, to purchase land for the prison site and have plans drawn up and approved by the freeholders. The purchase price of the land was $2,000 in 1807 and, when finally completed, the new prisonís construction cost a grand total of $24,201.13, which was 2.5 times over the original budget of $9,700.00.

The outside of the building has changed very little, although the grade at the front is a foot or so higher than it once was. The massive front door, the large hinges and the lock, which dates from 1819, are original. The interior vaulted ceilings of poured concrete, and the brick and stone construction are also much as they were when the facility first opened. The interior is painted to resemble the original whitewash. The cell doors are also original and many were fabricated in place.

Solidly built, this prison was in constant use until November 1965. Originally designed to house approximately 40 prisoners, the Burlington County Prison held over 100 inmates when they were moved to a converted armory that formerly stood behind the jail. Overcrowded conditions required yet another, larger prison which was erected in 1983, and is in current use. The cost of the 1811 prison would have paid about a third of a cell in the new jail.