Exclusive, And Very Eerie, Photos From The Inside Of DeRidder’s ‘Hanging Jail’
The old jail in downtown DeRidder, Louisiana is fascinating on many levels. The jail was built back in 1914 and housed prisoners until 1981. The walls are 11 or 12 feet thick in some areas and were made to keep people in. The jail got it's name because it was the site of a double hanging.
The architecture is amazing, but in the wrong light it can also be a spooky old place. A few years back while filming the movie "Mercy" , I got to go inside (and underneath) that wonderful old building and I thought I'd share a few photos with you.
In the "credit where credit is due" department: These photos of the interior were taken by an amazingly talented photographer by the name of Hilary Bronwyn Gayle. Take a look at her other work and I know you'll be quite impressed.
You've heard the term "under the jail"! Well that's were this was taken. The jail is very creepy inside and underneath there is a passageway that leads to the courthouse. Rumor has it that many a condemned con walked that bleak passage one last time. Even if the story isn't true, the constant sound of dripping water echos through the chamber and it's plenty scary even during the day!
Perhaps one of the most interesting places in the old DeRidder Jail is this amazing winding staircase. The rails are very uneven by design. When we first decided to use the staircase in the movie, we all commented on how it looked like it was designed by Tim Burton. I can just imagine the villains who walked these stairs. The story is that in 1928 two murderers were hanged from an apparatus at the top of these creepy old stairs, right up where you see that circle of light.
This is one of cells. Believe it or not, it was one of the least scary parts of the place. As I recall, there were cells on several levels of the building. As far as jails go, it was very modern as each cell hate private "facilities". That's not the "Ghost of Prisoners Past", that's me sitting on the cot.
This isn't part of the jail, obviously. It is one of the landmarks that has gone away since the movie was filmed in 2005. You can tell it used to be a service station of some sort. When we filmed there, it was a mechanics shop. The set decorator put up all kinds of lights and the "Bar" sign. By clever camera handling, you couldn't tell that it was not a bar.
Sort of an interesting side note, the door you see behind me does not lead into the building. It leads into a very small restroom. When you watch the movie, it looks like that is an entrance.
Thanks for taking the tour! If you make it over to DeRidder be sure to have a look at the old jail. It's really quite a place!