Don’t worry. I wasn’t incarcerated. This post is actually another in our “How Would You Use This Building” series.
The Cameron city manager, Rhett Parker, invited me to tour a wonderful old building that had formerly housed the Cameron Municipal Court, the Cameron Police Department, and the Cameron city jail.
These functions have now moved to a newly renovated building on the main drag. But that leaves the old building mostly unused. Mainly, the city, county, and library use the building for long-term storage now. Rhett and I were both perplexed by a case of books labeled “Arizona.”
There are four jail cells behind the buildings, which we couldn’t get into. But peering through the windows, they appear to be used as junk rooms. I saw decrepit computer monitors piled haphazardly among other unidentifiable “things.”
Actually, the “old building” is two old buildings with a common wall. The former municipal court occupies the bulk of one building’s ground floor. The rest of the ground floor and the second floor are a maze of hallways and cramped offices. A central stairway serves both buildings.
The top floor has two main features. It formerly housed the “old fire chief.” So it has something like a kitchen and a couple of large rooms set up for living. The rooms on this floor offer the best views of downtown Cameron.
Directly above the municipal court on the third floor is a huge warehouse of a room. It may have originally been the changing room for the volunteer firefighters. A “closet” in one corner hides a hole that falls unencumbered to the ground floor. I believe a fireman’s pole once occupied this hole.
Although it suffers from much deferred maintenance. There are a lot of possibilities for this building.
- It could become a theme hotel offering the “authentic experience” of a night in jail in the 1940s.
- Without a lot of work, it could become two retail outlets with living quarters above.
- It could also be redeveloped into three to five apartments.
The city is trying to figure out the best use for the building. It will likely be available to someone with a good plan for redeveloping it—probably well below construction basis.
A Contest! You Can Win!
So, in keeping with the theme of this series, “What would you do with this building?” I’m offering two tickets to the Cameron Rotary club’s Casino Night to the most creative idea—that is, if you’re willing and able to be in Cameron for the event.