‘Ben’s Place’ open as part of Old Jail rehabilitation project

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

An exciting new feature of the Old Franklin County Jail will open to the public at 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3. "Ben's Place, named after the indescribable Benjamin Franklin and in honor of the 225th Anniversary of Franklin County, will be the first stop on every visitor's tour of the old jail.

The combination visitor center and sales store is freshly renewed and relocated to accommodate the needs of individual, family and group visitors.

 Merchandise for all ages is available for sale; souvenirs, unusual gifts and books fill the area.  All Franklin County Historical Society-Kittochtinny publications (in print) will be for sale. 

Opening day will feature a party atmosphere, including free admission to the museum from 1 to 4 p.m., light refreshments and some surprises about Ben Franklin himself. 

Other phases of the old jail rehabilitation will include a lecture hall, new long-term exhibits on the 1818 jail period, and later history of the 1880 jail addition. A large new gallery for temporary and traveling exhibits will be created. A new area will be reserved for children's hands-on exhibits and interactive programs, connecting the indoor area with the outdoor "East Yard" for year around learning.

The historical society preserves five historic sites on the National Register: Old Franklin County Jail, Old Brown's Mill School, the John Brown House, Carrick Iron Furnace and the Chambersburg-Bedford Turnpike Toll House. A genealogical archives and library and topical museum are available in the Old Jail. The schedule is: Tuesday through Saturday (except holidays) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The library is also open on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is charged. For information, call 717-264-1667, e-mail history@pa.com of visit pafch.tripod.com

The 1818 and 1880 buildings are undergoing this estimated $121,000 renovation program and will remain open during the 20-month project.