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Bartow Haunted Jail Tour Gets Resurrected This Halloween

by James Coulter

Located off of North Broadway in downtown Bartow, the old jail was built in the 1960s, renovated in the 1970s, and closed in the 2000s. Since then, the old building has fallen into disrepair. The concrete walls and metal bars remain. The lights often flicker and the plumbing often acts and sounds eerie.

Such a dark and creepy location seems ideal for a haunted house. In fact, the old jail has even allegedly taken up some haunted residents. One such ghostly guest is named Calvin, who allegedly is the ghost of an inmate who died there decades ago. Even the police officers who work there have claimed to have heard and seen him.

“I have been up there by myself, especially at night,” explained Lt. Justin Carr. “You hear weird noises. You see things. There was always something out of the corner of your eye or something. You would see something down the hall and nothing was there. A lot of things you could not explain were happening there. That contributed to it. Certain people would not go upstairs, who would not go up into the old jail because of that, so a lot of us believe it is a real thing.”

With such a creepy legacy, the old jail has served as the location of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) annual Haunted Jail Tour. This year, the haunted house is making an epic comeback, even after the old building was expected to be demolished.

This year’s theme, fittingly enough, is “Resurrection” to celebrate the Haunted Jail Tour returning even with the facility expected to close down and be torn down. Many return haunts will be making their return, including clowns and classic horror monsters. And, who knows, perhaps even Calvin himself will make an appearance.

Lt. Justin Carr has worked for 16 years at the PSCO. He started helping with the tour during its start in 2014. Back then, it was an interagency tour and history tour of the old jail. With its surprise surge in popularity two years later, the tour was converted into a proper haunted house, and it has remained a popular installment ever since.

“Last year, it made $50 thousand due to massive turnout,” he said. “This year, we are hoping to have something similar happen, and we keep the prices affordable.”

The Haunted Jail Tour will be hosted this Fri. Oct. 20 and Sat. Oct. 21, and next Fri. Oct. 27 and Sat. Oct. 28 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. The tour is located at the old jail at 455 N Broadway Ave. in Bartow. Free parking is available at the parking garage and the parking lot behind the building near Sonny’s BBQ.

For more information, visit: https://www.polksheriff.org/news-investigations/2023/08/24/2023-haunted-jail-tour-scheduled-for-two-weekends-in-october

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