Jail cell from 1800s, Dillinger's Tommy gun featured
BY KEN KOSKY
This story ran on nwitimes.com on Thursday, March 9,
2006 1:06 AM CST
VALPARAISO | The Porter County Sheriff's Department
lobby is being transformed into a law enforcement museum
of sorts, complete with a jail cell from the 1800s and
such memorabilia as the county-owned Thompson submachine
gun which was used by notorious bank robber John
The project has been in the works since last year, when
the department acquired a 7- by 12-foot solid metal cell
dating back to the 1800s. The jail cell had been an
eating area inside Court Restaurant in downtown
Valparaiso, but didn't fit the decor of the new
restaurant that took over the building last year.
The restaurant owner donated it to police, who cut it
into pieces and stored it until they figured out the
best spot to display it.
Jail inmates reassembled the jail cell a few days ago,
and now Sheriff's Department officials plan to fill it
with memorabilia like the Tommy gun. The gun originally
belonged to Porter County, but was lent to Lake County
authorities and was stolen when Dillinger broke out of
Lake County Jail.
Researcher Gordon Herigstad discovered the gun in FBI
storage and helped Porter County get it back five years
ago. The gun has remained locked away because of its
value, but can now be safely displayed inside the old
jail cell, Chief Deputy David Lain said.
Lain, a collector of police memorabilia, plans to add
some of his items to the display, like a mannequin
wearing an old police uniform and some old-fashioned
police restraints. He expects the display to be popular
with visitors and curious residents.
"It's an opportunity to remember the past and tie it to
the present and future," Lain said.
Lain expects the display to be complete within about a
Lain said visitors also might be interested in going
next door to the jail lobby, where there is a display of
significant flags, including a 9-11 commemorative flag.