Written by Amanda Coers – The castle-like Brown County Museum of History towers over a small corner in downtown Brownwood. The sandstone fortress served as the Brown County jail for almost 80 years, from 1903 to 1981. Repurposed as a museum, the building still features old steel cells, each holding two bunk beds for four inmates at a time.
Touring the cells, it’s easy to imagine the lengths an inmate might go to in order to escape the cramped cell. At least 12 different inmates are listed as having escaped the old Brown County Jail on the museum’s website, most were recaptured and returned to the jail. Some breakouts were elaborate, with inmates cutting through the bars and using bedsheets as ropes to scale the four stories. Other breakouts, in the case of the famous Rae Bourbon, were merely a crime of opportunity and an open door.
In May, you and a group of friends will have the opportunity to attempt to escape the old Brown County Jail. The Dennis family has coordinated with the Brown County Museum to host an ‘escape room’ event called Break Out Brownwood.
Break Out Brownwood is an escape room style game, where imaginative players are locked into the historical jail section of the museum. Players will have to find clues and solve riddles in order to escape within a one-hour time limit. Escape rooms will be available by reservation every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in May from 4 to 10 p.m. The first session will be held May 4th.
Groups ranging from 3 to 9 people, ages 13 years old and up, are invited to work together to break out. The cost is $25 per person, and half of the proceeds will be donated to the museum. Discounts are available for large groups. For more information, visit the Break Out Brownwood Facebook Page, or email: [email protected]. T-shirts will also be for sale during the event.
Joe and Lasha Dennis, of May, Texas, and their children, Shannon, Jessica, Caleb, and Caroline, have put their heads together to coordinate this event. Lasha’s family lives in Kansas City, and during a few visits, the Dennis family participated in Break Out events with friends and family members. The family enjoyed their time so much, they began to plan a way to bring the fun to Brownwood.
“You’re doing something where you have to think, instead of just watching a movie. You’re part of the entertainment,” said 17 year old Shannon.