Photo-Opp History Lesson: The Old City Jail

If you’ve spent some time on Anna Maria Island, specifically on bustling Pine Avenue, then you’ve surely seen The Old City Jail. Hopefully, you’ve even snapped a picture in it.

This landmark is conveniently located adjacent to The Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum. The museum itself is an island treasure with plenty of items to take you back in time but arguably its most famous (and most photographed) feature is The Old City Jail. The concrete building with no windows, no roof, and no doors is a popular photo opportunity and a must-see stop for any island visitor.

But did you know that The Old City Jail was built and utilized as an actual jail in the 20’s?

According to the Anna Maria Island Historical’s Society: “The City Jail – Built in 1927. The need for a jail arose because there was a tavern-dance hall on the Gulf side of Pine Avenue. Those who frequented the hall would get drunk and cause a disturbance. Mitch Davis, the first mayor of Anna Maria, saw the need to ‘house’ the offenders in a jail with bars but no windows. The mosquitos had quite a sobering effect on them.”

The jail was used until the 1940s, when it caught fire. The wooden roof burned away, but the original structure remained. The city decided to use the old jail as a photo op for visitors, so it was left standing and painted with its current slogan.

Now, it’s one of the most photographed spots on Anna Maria Island. No vacation to AMI is complete without a visit to The Jail!

photos courtesy of floridamemory.com and visitflorida.com

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