A Llano Landmark
(Site Under Construction)
Visible from the historic Inks Bridge spanning the Llano River, the Llano Red Top Jail is an imposing Romanesque Revival structure. During the iron ore boom town era of the 1890s, the Red Top with its 4-story gallows tower became a constant reminder to outlaws that they should keep their guns at home.
History of the Red Top Jail
The jail has virtually not been altered since it was built in 1895. It was used as a jail until 1982. Graffiti dating back to 1918 has been found.
The jail cell keys and hammocks slept on by prisoners have also recently been discovered. Come experience the raw feeling of being locked up in the 1890’s! The Llano Red Top Jail is actually the 4th jail in Llano. When the City of Llano became incorporated in 1892, one of the first orders of business was to condemn the county jail, which was built on the courthouse square and reeked of sewage.
In 1895, the County Commissioners’ Court approved the J. Pauly Co. bid of $11,500 to build the new jail. Metal bars were shipped from the Pauly plant in St. Louis, Mo. to the Llano railyard depot. These prefab parts were transported by mule from the depot across the Llano River. The parts were assembled on site into jail cells, metal doors, etc. Granite for the exterior of the jail was quarried locally. The entire jail was built in 8 months.
The Red Top Jail is now officially owned by the Friends of the Llano Red Top Jail. We took possession in 2015 from the City of Llano to oversee the restoration of this Historic Jail.