Designed and built in the late antebellum era by William B. Robertson and featuring Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, and Italianate flourishes, the Old Tuscaloosa City Jail boasts 28-inch-thick walls and heavy floors hewed from local timber. From 1856 to 1890 it served as the county jail and then as a boarding house and private residence. An historic marker on the corner of the property was erected by the Equal Justice Initiative in March 2017. It describes the terror of lynching in Alabama from 1870-1940, and specifically chronicles eight lynchings that took place in Tuscaloosa County.
During its decades as a jail, it held both black and white prisoners. At least one black man-Henry Burke, who was accused of sexually assaulting a white girl but never prosecuted-was seized from the jail by a white mob and lynched.