DeRidder's Gothic Jail

This old jail has quite the storied past.

Small Louisiana: Feed Your Soul logo
The official Explore Louisiana blogging team.
Gothic Jail of DeRidder
Gothic Jail of DeRidder

Built in 1915, the Gothic Jail of DeRidder got its name from the “Collegiate Gothic” architectural style of the building – a popular style with colleges and universities at the time that featured pointed Tudor arches, dormers and bay windows. A 1923 article in Popular Mechanics compared the building to a “Grand Mansion” rather than a jailhouse.

There are three floors in the building. The bottom floor housed the Jailer’s quarters, where he lived with his family, as well as his office and a temporary holding cell for prisoners not destined for a longer stay. The second and third floors of the building each hold four cells, all opening out onto the spiral staircase that sits in the center of the building.

Each cell features a separate bathroom and skylights on the top floor of the building - amenities that were unheard of for the times. However, the jail still maintained some standard practices of the era. Hard steel bunks accommodated about a dozen inmates in each cell and a long dark tunnel connected the jail to the courthouse so there was no interaction between inmates and the public.

The jail is also referred to as “The Hanging Jail,” revealing a darker past. The jail is believed to be haunted by the two men hanged for the slaying of their taxi cab driver. The story goes - Joe Genna and Molton Brasseaux hired taxi driver Joe Brevelle, killed him, stole $14 and dumped his body in the old Pickering Mill pond. However, the body was soon found, and taxi records led to the men’s arrest, confessions and convictions. They were hanged in the Jail on March 9, 1928. Today, visitors flock to the location and some have sworn they’ve captured photos of ghostly beings. The jail has even been featured on The Travel Channel because of its peculiar reputation.

And when it’s time for Halloween, you can roam its spooky halls at the Gothic Jail after Dark! Experience the haunting and historic Gothic Jail, where paranormal activity runs rampant and the walls hold secrets of a brutal murder, suicide and a double hanging. It is not for the faint of heart! All proceeds benefit the Gothic Jail Restoration Project. Of course, you can always take a daytime tour if that experience is more to your liking.

Check out the Myths & Legends Byway to plan your road trip to experience more #OnlyLouisiana attractions in the area.