Santa Cruz City Jail (former) – Santa Cruz CA


“In 1936 the Works Progress Administration provided funds for the construction of jail designed by Albert Roller at 705 Front Street, at a cost of $190,000 and built to hold 68 men and 8 women. As completion of construction neared the jail population was “dropping away so fast the sheriff and aides are fearful there will not be enough left to make a creditable showing by the time the building is accepted” causing the Sheriff to consider staging a round-up in the “jungles,” private bingo parties, or drafting prominent citizens to stand in for prospective prisoners to make for a grand opening. The jail opened on December 13, 1937 with thirty-eight inmates. The Sheriff need not have worried about the population; by 1939 it was over its capacity, holding 82 prisoners…

In December 1972 a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of inmates over problems concerning overcrowding, inmate classification, medical care, inmate discipline, adequacy of the law library, and inmate visitation policies…

The jail was abandoned in the mid-1980s. In 1993 the building was completely remodeled and today is connected to the Museum of Art & History.”

Project Details

Federal Cost Local Cost Total Cost Project #'s

Source notes (1936 photo available at this site)

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Location Info

705 Front St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Location notes:
This building has since been remodeled and is now part of the Museum of Art and History.

Coordinates: 36.975127, -122.025438

One comment on “Santa Cruz City Jail (former) – Santa Cruz CA

  1. susan powell

    I can remember being a kid and looking up at the top of that building and seeing the fence and then looking down at the people walking by and my mom would tell me not to stare

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