Pauly Jail Building Company is part of our country's rich history of westward expansion, American ingenuity, and successful entrepreneurship. It was 1856, wilderness and wastelands were quickly becoming territories and states, and our judicial system was faced with the problem of how to house prisoners in those remote areas that were without proper detention facilities. P.J. Pauly, Sr. of St. Louis, Missouri, saw this as a tremendous opportunity.

Mr. Pauly and his family were steamboat blacksmiths on the Mississippi River, and they had the skills to design and build steel cages that could be mounted on flatbed wagons to create portable jail cells, the perfect solution to the detention problem of that day. The quality of workmanship of these Pauly jails set the industry standard and launched the Pauly family into the forefront of this new area of business. Over time, the name "Pauly" came to be associated with traditional jail and prison construction throughout the United States, and drew special recognition with the unique Patent Rotary Jail which remains an historical testament to American inventiveness.

The tradition of excellence continues today as P.J. Pauly, Sr.'s great-great-grandsons guide the Pauly Jail Building Company toward meeting today's needs in the detention equipment industry. Robert James Pohrer and Joseph Pauly Pohrer III revitalized the family business, operating briefly as Pauly Pohrer Group until they reclaimed and secured the original company name in 1991. Today, the company retains the strong pioneering spirit, heritage of innovation, and unwavering commitment to excellent service that has always defined the Pauly Jail Building Company.


  • Double-ribbed bar and the development of the "tool resisting steel" with the Crucible Steel Company
  • The 4-S approach to the correctional industry:
    • Security
    • Segregation
    • Sanitation
    • Safety
  • Special plumbing fixtures that could never be clogged - Noverflow
  • The forerunner of the heavy hollow metal door and frame - Securidor
  • A line of detention security windows - Invisiguard and Ventralite - which replaced the old exposed guards

Historic Pauly Jail Building Company

Pauly Jail Building & Manufacturing Co. Antique Catalouge

Replica of Historic Pauly Jail Flatbed Wagon Portable Jail Cell "GAOLS"

Pauly Jail Building Company Original Portable Jail Cell "GAOLS" Replica

Rotary Jails

On September 25, 1888, Peter J. Pauly Sr. and James J. Ligon, of St. Louis, Missouri, secured a patent from the United States Patent Office for the Rotary Jail. (Patent No. 390,093)

Rotary Jail Patent No. 390,093

Their patent was a new and useful improvement in Rotary Jails, in relation to the patent of Brown & Haugh issued July 12, 1881, No. 244,358.

Pauly Jail Building Company built 12 out of the 18 rotary jails constructed across the United States, between 1882-1889. The facilities constructed ranged from 1 story to 3 stories high. The Douglas County Jail, Omaha, Nebraska was the only 3 story facility built by Paul Jail. It had 30 cells. The remainder of rotary jails built by Pauly Jail consisted of 7- two story facilities, housing between 16-24 cells, and 3- one story facilities, housing between 8- 16 cells. 

Only 3 rotary jails still exist today. The Daviess County Jail in Gallatin, Missouri, being the most historical of the rotary jails built by Pauly Jail Building Company and still in existence. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

Rotary Jails built by Pauly Jail Building Company includes the following:

-  Douglas County Jail- Omaha, Nebraska. Year Built 1885

-  Warren County Jail- Williamsport, Indiana. Year Built 1886

-  Oswego County Jail- Oswego, New York. Year Built 1887

-  Grayson County Jail- Sherman, Texas. Year Built 1887

-  Chittenden County Jail- Burlington, Vermont. Year Built 1888

-  Salt Lake County Jail- Salt Lake City, Utah. Year Built 1888

-  Sedgwick County Jail- Wichita, Kansas. Year Built 1888

-  Ellis County Jail- Waxahachie, Texas. Year Built 1888

-  Kanawha County Jail- Charleston, West Virginia. Year Built 1888

-  Strafford County Jail- Dover, New Hampshire. Year Built 1888

- Daviess County Jail- Gallatin, Missouri. Year Built 1888

- Pueblo County Jail- Pueblo, Colorado. Year Built 1889

The Pauly Jail Building and Manufacturing Company Historic Catalog Featuring Rotary Jail

Publication on Rotary Jails "The Rotary Jail: Escape-Proof Cells on a Carousel 1882-1966" by W.C. Madden

The Pauly Jail Building and Manufacturing Company Patents of 1892

Peter J. Pauly SR., and Peter J. Pauly JR., secured many Patent's in 1892. This showcasing the inventive excellence of Pauly Jail's Legacy. 

Mechanism for Opening and Closing Jail-Doors Patent No. 482,316

Mechanism for Opening, Closing, and Locking Jail-Doors Patent No. 480,476

Jail-Grating Patent No. 480,700

The Pauly Sliding Door Locking Device Patent

On October 19th, 1897, Pauly Jail Building and Manufacturing Company, secured a patent from the United States Patent Office for Locking Device for Doors. (Patent No. 591,850)

Sliding Door Locking Device Patent No. 591,850

Historic Jail Projects

Three Generations Come Together to Set Cells

Learn more about the cell set installation at Lincoln County, Nebraska. Pauly Jail Building Company is proud to share the story of three generations of ironworkers coming together to work on this project.

Mr. Dennis Bush, Mr. Travis Bush, and Mr. Tristan Bush joined together the week of April 12th to set modular steel cells in North Platte, Nebraska.

Want to read more about the project ongoing in Lincoln County, Nebraska?

Click to Read the Article


150th Year Anniversary Celebration

The 150th Year Anniversary Celebration was June 9th, 2006 in St. Louis Missouri. 

150th Anniversary Event Pictures

160th Year Anniversary Celebration

The 160th Year Anniversary Celebration was December 1st, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

160th Anniversary Event Pictures

Pauly Jail Building Company & Union of Ironworkers

Pauly Jail Building Company has utilized the Ironworkers skilled workforce for decades. Features below include Articles, Letter of Recommendation, Pictures, and Video Links.

Featured Article in "The Ironworker" June/July 2006   Ironworkers and Pauly Jail Pictures  Letter of Recommendation 2017

 Posey County Jail Addition & Renovation - Mt. Vernon, IN

 Douglas County Adult Detention Center - Douglasville, GA

 Wayne County Criminal Justice Center - Detroit, MI