Historic Rice County Jail transformed into The Slammer, an Airbnb and escape room

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Jail cells line the second floor of a bright, vintage-looking home. During years past, sheriffs of Rice County and their families lived on the ground floor, processing inmates and addressing drunken troublemakers.

In 1929, the Rice County Jail opened, serving the community until 2001, when Rice County built the new Law Enforcement Center, which is west of town near the Lyons Airport.

Today, the historic site purchased by Chris McCord in 2020 is an Airbnb and escape room named The Slammer Historic Rice County Jail, where guests can stay in a piece of Rice County history or learn the narrative of the location through a historical tour and escape room activity.

The Slammer is open as an event space, accommodating Murder Mystery nights and birthday parties in the blue-painted jail cells.

John Sturn and his wife, Tammy, supervise the building, scheduling guests for historical tours and other activities. The cells feature the original locking mechanisms, large cell keys and the 1929 state-of-the-art systems.

“There are all these innovations of the time,” John Sturn said. “It’s built in a U-shape so the jailers could walk around without having to go inside the cell block to check on inmates, and jailers could open the mechanical doors outside of the cellblock.”

The tour informs visitors about the historic site and how the sheriff’s department used it to house inmates. John Sturn said initially, Rice County housed their sheriff’s department in a hotel built in the 1800s, and later, the county purchased the hotel and the lot it sat on.

After Rice County moved the hotel to a different location, they built a jail to better process and hold inmates.

Due to its long history in the town of Lyons, McCord said he was eager to purchase the Rice County Jail and turn it into a historical site, similar to his project with the Wolf Hotel in Ellinwood. “We were excited and saw this place as an opportunity to preserve a piece of history,” McCord said.

The second floor contrasts with the first. Instead of thick iron bars and concrete floors, the first floor houses warm hardwood spaces and a vintage-decorated kitchen.

The Slammer Airbnb part supplies a two-bedroom and one-bath apartment as an alternative to hotel booking, entrenched in history. It features an antique dumbwaiter in the kitchen and vintage furniture in the living room.

The Sturns hope to grow the location, offering more events, as reported in The Hutchinson News.

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