Evansville is rich in exquisite examples of 19th century American Architecture. The Vanderburgh County Jail and Sheriff's Residence at 208 N.W. Fourth Street is an excellent example from this period. This castle-like fort, designed by architect Henry Walters, was modeled after the Castle of Lichtenstein in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. Therefore, the structure is familiar to Evansville's German-born residents. This Gothic-inspired building was originally crafted from stone, which simplified its construction a good deal. Evansville's natural environment has rich subsoil, which combined with abundant rainfall and high mean temperatures, yields an abundance of stone, sand, and fine clay for bricks.
Evansville's prime location along the Ohio River also allowed a direct shipment route for imported stone products. In addition, natural deposits of coal and iron in the area provided inexpensive means of operating brick kilns and iron foundries. The building itself is designed to invoke fear in the observer. It's exterior consists of step-gables, projecting turrets, crenelated roof lines, simulated portcullis, and a central keep, or rounded tower. The entrance presents pointed arches to lengthen the appearance of this part of the building. All of these elements add to the castle-like appearance of the structure.
The Vanderburgh County Jail is also connected to the former Courthouse, which lies across the street, via an underground dungeon-like tunnel. During the time of the jail's use, the tunnel served as a passageway to transport prisoners to and from court. Presently, however, no nervous inmates are forced to make the tedious walk down the tunnel, nor are they required to sleep in the jail's less than spacious cells. The building now houses commercial offices. However, one cell still remains to allow modern visitors to take a look and imagine what life may have been like in the old Vanderburgh County Jail.