By Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator
It was the early 1970s and Harvey County was busy modernizing municipal buildings, especially in Newton. The new courthouse opened in 1966, and plans were in place for a new post office, library and rec center, the old fire house on at the corner of Poplar and west 5th was also on the demo list.
Built in 1912, this structure served the community well.
The building was 48×52 with the front part facing east. The Fire Department and Water Department divided the north half of the two story building. The 18×18 jail was one story and connected at the southwest corner.
The headquarters for the chief of police and police court were located in the south half of the building. The reporter noted “A convenient feature of this half is the handy arrangement of the jail and the court room. Being but a few steps apart prisoners can be sentenced and placed in the jail with very little trouble.”
The sign for the Police Department, originally located in the south half of the building, was recently donated to the museum.
The donor, Thomas Allen, had an interesting story to tell about how he came into possession of the sign. He and a friend, Kenny Hein, were driving around one afternoon (as teenagers do) when they passed the Fire Station on 5th & Poplar, which was being demolished. They asked if they could have the large police department sign laying on the ground. The men working said sure, they would save it for them. The friends finished their tour of Newton and came back to pick up their sign to find it leaning up against a pole. The sign has been in their possession ever since. Most recently, the sign hung in Allen’s garage.