The Guilford County Board of Commissioners has been talking about demolishing the Old Guilford County Jail In Downtown Greensboro for well over a decade and, this month, it’s finally going to happen.
Or, at least, the demolition will get started. County officials say the destruction of the old jail will take several months to complete but should be finished by sometime in “mid-2024.”
The old jail, which opened in 1974, has a storied history and came under a great deal of criticism in the early part of this century due to the fact that it was overcrowded, poorly designed, ugly on the outside, cramped for space on the inside – and it provided very limited visibility for jail guards, who often had to, for example, stand on blocks to see into cell windows that were cut to high.
When it first opened in 1982 it was not known as the Old Jail, but it acquired that name only years later.
The jail has housed thieves, drug dealers, murderers and one man who did absolutely nothing wrong and who was never even arrested. When current Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen served as a county commissioner before being elected Register of Deeds, he decided to experience the conditions in the jail first-hand and he posed as an inmate and spent a night in a jail cell – and lived to tell the tale.
The old jail is being demolished to make way for a new Sheriff’s Department administrative building. A joint venture of Blum Construction and Winston-Salem-based WC Construction will take on the daunting project that will require the removal of a whole lot of solid concrete.
Following the demolition of the old jail, construction of the new Sheriff’s Department headquarters will begin and that building is expected to be ready for occupancy in about a year and half.
Demolition of the Otto Zenke building and parking lot work is expected to take about two months.
Final completion of all aspects of the project is expected by early 2026.