Go straight to the Calaboose…

Cuba's calaboose is still available if the city finds some hardcore criminals that need an attitude adjustment.

Cuba’s calaboose is still available if the city finds some hardcore criminals that need an attitude adjustment.

Old western movies often make mention of the calaboose. Western guys get thrown into them or bust out of them.  According to Cuba, MO’s Celebrating 150 Years: A History of Cuba, Missouri, a calaboose  is a freestanding one-room concrete block structure usually situated behind the town center, and it is used for a town jail. The word comes from a Spanish word calabozo.

A structure, standing on the corner of Southwest Main and South Prairie with the words Cuba, Missouri 1908 Jail engraved on it, seems to fit the bill for a calaboose.

Eagle Scout Verlin Boda has instrumental in perserving the history of Cuba's Calaboose.

Eagle Scout Verlin Boda was instrumental in perserving the history of Cuba’s Calaboose.

According to the history book, residents of Cuba approved the building of the calaboose in an April 1908 election. The city purchased Lot 1 of Block 20 in Cuba from George and Jane Ives for $40 to build the needed structure. W.A. Davis was the marshal when the building was built. The mayor was W.F. Mitchell. Citizens probably breathed a lot easier to have a secure lockup for the town’s desperados.

That Cuba has the calaboose in such prime condition is due to the efforts of  Boy Scout Verlin Boda, who undertook the renovation of the old jail as part of his Eagle Scout Project.

On October 4, 2004, the board of aldermen and mayor gave Boda permission to renovate the jail. Boda rescued the old building that had deteriorated because of weather, age, and lack of maintenance. He completed the project for his 2006 Eagle Scout Project for Troop 463, and it was dedicated to the city of Cuba on December 3, 2006.

The steel door on the jail was taken from the old Cuba Jail located behind Cuba’s 1934 City Hall and Firehouse on Smith Street. Today there is a sign outside the 1908 jail with information and artifacts. The Historic Preservation Commission placed a plaque on the jail indicating that it is one of Cuba’s historic buildings.

We thank Verlin Boda for his initiative in preserving and researching this colorful bit of Cuba’s history.

Eagle Scout Boda prepared this informational sign for the outside of the jail.

Eagle Scout Boda prepared this informational sign for the outside of the jail.

This prisoner seems to have hung around the old jail a little too long.

This prisoner seems to have hung around the old jail a little too long. This scene is visible through the steel door on the 1908 jail.

UPDATE:

We found that the key to the 1908 Calaboose is hanging in the mayor’s office. As you can see from this photo, it is a substantial key.

Cuba, MO 1908 Jail Key

The 1908 Calaboose jail key has survived and hangs in the mayor’s office as a framed memento of an earlier time.

The corner of S. Prairie & SW Main

 

ANOTHER UPDATE:

While doing some research in the 1944 Cuba Review newspaper on an unrelated matter, I found this article about the “modernizing” of the 1908 jail. It must have been very primitive before then. Notice that the reporter still did not recommend a stay in the local calaboose.

A stay at the modernized jail was not recommended in 1944. "Home is Best"

A stay at the modernized jail was not recommended in 1944. “…home is more desirable…,” says this reporter.

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