Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Charles Addams Letter on the Freeport Jail

Admirers of cartoonist Charles Addams must have written to him about all sorts of Gothic architecture. We know that Mrs. John Walton Barrett of Freeport, Illinois informed Mr. Addams of the fate of the Freeport Jail, which burned down in 1962 under circumstances which are apparently considered suspicious to this day. She enclosed a photograph of the lost architectural gem. Mr. Addams responded graciously on New Yorker stationery and expressed his appreciation. 

27 Feb 63

Dear Mrs. Barrett

I'm very happy with the photograph and story on the Freeport Jail—a building designed by a true Gothic hand. It is now, I hope, being restored to its former magnificence
     Many thanks
      Chas Addams

Scans of the letter courtesy of David from Manhattan

It's interesting to compare Freeport Gothic to Addams Gothic. Addams freely adopted many Gothic architectural elements over the years.
Freeport Gothic
County Jail, Freeport, Ill. postcard 
Addams Gothic
Charles Addams, The New Yorker, October 31, 1988

The postcard of the Freeport Jail was recently listed on eBay. The item description explains why some residents of Freeport think the building was deliberately set on fire.
County Jail, Freeport, Ill. postcard

eBay Listing Ended September 3, 2015

eBay Item Description

eBay Bid History
The last-minute bid gets it.

The John Barrett papers were donated to the Library of Congress. Could a copy of Mrs. Barrett's original letter to Charles Addams be there?

The John Barrett papers

Note:  Once again I am grateful to David from Manhattan for his enthusiasm and for the use of his fascinating material.

Incidentally, the blog archives are full of information on Charles Addams and on what must have been one of his favorite holidays, Halloween.


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