For nearly one hundred years, where City Hall stands, there was a small stone building that everyone knew well: the jail. In those days, the newly-sentenced would walk with the marshall from the courthouse on the square down this narrow little street to the jail up ahead. Whether or not they came out depended on the sheriff.
Once a man was held there who had been accused of a terrible murder. A crowd had formed outside the jail demanding that the sheriff release him to the growing mob for a swift execution on a nearby tree. After the sheriff refused and drove them away, the crowd came back with a cannon and threatened to blast through the jail to get their man. Answering a plea for help, Mayor John Henneman emerged from his jewelry store on the square to face the crowd. After he’d spoken for some time about justice and the rule of law, he hammered a spike into the fuse of the cannon, disabling it. The next year, Henneman was shot while breaking up a domestic dispute.
Around 1900, Jail Street was renamed Wall Street, whether in irony or not is unknown. It wasn’t much more than a driveway until 2015, when a new building brought several new downtown businesses and the city closed off the street to motorized traffic.
Audio: Stop 14 - Tunnels