In the early 1800's, General Kenneth Clark proposed that San Jose needed a jail house, one that would be built with thick concrete walls. The City followed through and Clark Jail House was founded 1827, opening day September 3rd. In the years following, the surrounding area became very populated. Local businesses and property owners felt that Clark Jail House was bringing down the value of the neighborhood. The city agreed that it was becoming a problem and made plans to build a new facility elsewhere. Upon completion of the Santa Clara Council Jail in 1850, Clark Jail House was closed and all inmates were moved to the new facility.
Years down the road, in 1857, the vacant building was repurposed and renamed Clark Hall. The old jail house is used by San Jose State University, originally as a library, now as as a classroooms, offices, conference rooms and a computer lab. Although much of the building has been renovated, the thick concrete walls and dark stair wells tend to bring up questions from students who are not familiar with the buildings history.
Legend has it that when lights flicker, it is the spirits of those that died in the Jail House, playing with the minds of young students. A student reported once seeing a shadow of a man on the wall when there was no one around to cause it. Another reported that the flickering lights followed her as she walked about the building.