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Where is the Hangman’s Jail (and Why Do People Visit)?

Asking why people visit the Hangman’s Jail is almost like asking why people like Halloween. It’s a name reminiscent of days gone by and dark, cozy nights telling stories around a campfire.

And just like Halloween, the Hangman’s Jail elicits images of ghosts and ghouls and all that goes bump in the night. But what is the Hangman’s Jail and why are people want to know more about it?

Where Is the Gothic Jail?

Before we tell you all about this intriguing landmark, you’ll need to know where it is. This way, you can either seek it out or avoid it all together. Our advice? Seek it out.

The Hangman’s Jail, also known as the Gothic Jail, is in DeRidder, La., just over 100 miles northwest of Lafayette on 305 West 1st Street. With the Fort Polk army base just up the road 20 miles, DeRidder usually sees unfamiliar faces. But the familiar ones – the ghosts of the Gothic Jail – are what locals and tourists talk about quite often.

About the Gothic Jail

With its red brick roof, dingy brownstone-like exterior, several stories, including a tower and its gothic-like look, it’s no wonder many call this jailhouse the Gothic Jail. Of course, it has this name because of its design style – Collegiate Gothic – generally used when building colleges and universities.

Built in 1914, the Gothic Jail is a unique structure. The jail is the first of its kind to have each cell equipped with its own toilet, shower, and window. The jail’s walls are 13 inches to 21 inches thick, with underground corridors leading from the courthouse to the jail. The building is on the National Historic Register. It’s still standing today as a historical landmark and a museum.

Pro Tip: Do you love ghost hunting? Check out these 13 Best Paranormal Places for Your Next Road Trip.

Why Is It Called the Hangman’s Jail?

And while some may recognize the unique beauty of the Gothic Jail’s design elements, many know it for its history, giving it the nickname of the Hangman’s Jail. Built as a prison in 1914 and used as one until 1984, it’s not hard to figure out why it’s called the Hangman’s Jail. They hanged two men there.

Hangman's Jail, Louisiana from company website
For paranormal hunters, a stop by Hangman’s Jail in Louisiana is a must.

What Happened at the Hangman’s Jail?

The most famous incident in the jail’s history happened in the 1920s when a cab driver was brutally murdered. The authorities charged two men with the murder and they got guilty verdicts. 

They got death sentences – hanging. In 1928, they hanged them in the jail’s three-story spiral staircase. Authorities built gallows across the stairway rails, and they rigged a dumbwaiter to trigger the trap door on the gallows. The execution happened at 1:00 p.m. exactly. The Gothic Jail is now a museum, and visitors can see the spiral staircase where the men died. 

Is the Hangman’s Jail Haunted?

The gothic style of the Hangman’s Jail resembles that of a haunted mansion more than a jail until you notice the bars on the windows. And then you realize what it really is. A place to keep people in. But does that also keep the ghosts in? 

Many people wonder if ghosts haunt it. And while you may hear reports of some witnessing fleeting shadows across windows or hearing unintelligible whispers as they walk by, whether or not that’s true depends on whether or not you believe. With events such as hangings in spiral staircases in old gothic buildings, doesn’t that just make you want to believe in hauntings, even if you tell yourself you don’t?

Ghosts moving inside Hangman's Jail
Enjoy a tour of the haunted Hangman’s Jail Monday through Friday.

Can You Visit the Hangman’s Jail?

Today, the Hangman’s Jail still stands in all its horrified, gothic glory and is now a museum. There are multiple tours on Mondays through Fridays at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:00 p.m., with weekend tours available by appointment only. Adult pricing starts at $5.00, with discounts for military, kids, and seniors available. And while this tour will be worth your while, you might also want to pay a visit after dark.

What Is Gothic Jail After Dark?

An event called “Gothic Jail After Dark” capitalizes on what draws people to visit the Hangman’s Jail. It’s a night lantern tour where they dim the lights, and you can only use flashlights. You can find events on social media that are on select Friday and Saturday nights, with reservations required. Said to be full of paranormal activity, this is the tour to hear the secrets within its walls.

If you happen to be in the area during October, be sure to catch the October After Dark Haunted House to really get your chill on. Tour guides encourage cameras and recording devices throughout the entire tour. How else are you going to prove what you saw and heard?

Pro Tip: Are you brave enough to listen to one of these 7 Spooky Campfire Podcasts on your next road trip?

Will You Dare to Step Inside the Hangman’s Jail?

If you’re looking for a place with a little bit of history and a lot of mystery, the Hangman’s Jail is definitely worth a visit. With two men hanged within its walls at the top of its three-story spiral staircase and its eerie Collegiate Gothic style design, this prison-turned-museum is sure to give you goosebumps. What ghosts will you see inside? What secrets might they tell you? 

Will you dare to step inside the Hangman’s Jail? Tell us if you’re brave enough in the comments!

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