Old Jail Art Center Docent Ann Jones has been watching jaws drop at the Old Jail for twenty eight years. Since she co-planned the first exhibit with founder Riley Nail, she says that the Old Jail has just gotten better.
In 1980, Ann Jones sat down with Riley Nail, the founder of The Old Jail Art Center, and Pat Jones to plan the museum’s first exhibit featuring “The Women of Albany.” Together they began what Texas Monthly says has become “The best small-town museum in the state - and maybe in the nation."
Playwright Robert E. Nail, Jr., author of Albany’s Fort Griffin Fandangle, first purchased Albany’s old jail and turned it into a studio. After his death, he willed the jail to his nephew, Rilley Nail, who, with the help of volunteers and friends like Ann, turned the jail into The Old Jail Art Center.
“I work with volunteers on a regular basis and have been working with Ann for about eight years,” education director Kathryn Mitchell said. “Ann is always eager to help in any way she can. Her family also generously donates to the museum.”
Ann’s husband, Jon Rex, has chaired many fundraisers that have been essential to the expansion of the Old Jail. In addition to chairing fundraisers that in the past raised up to $2 million, the Jones have donated so generously that the Old Jail has planned on naming a gallery after them in the future.
“Out of everything Albany does, the Fandangle, the Nativity, anything, the Old Jail is Albany’s best calling card,” Ann said. “It is truly a gift to the community. It is very important to Jon Rex and I that we support the old Jail in anyway we can.”
Whether it be the Old Jail, her church, community, local schools, or the Drug and Alcohol task force, Ann is always looking for ways to serve her community. Her love for serving, however, does not stop in Albany.
“I’ve been on the board of trustees at TCU for 20 years. I was also awarded the Honoree Alumnus at TCU two years ago,” Ann said. “You don’t want to say ‘Hey look at me and what I’ve done!’ but these things are important.”
Volunteering as a docent at the Old Jail for Ann means working the front desk, cooking meals for Old Jail events, or working at one of the many festivals the museum holds every year, all of which are common duties for any volunteer Docent.
“It’s always so much fun to watch people come through the museum and say ‘What is this small town doing with such a great museum?’” Ann said. “I’m so proud of the direction the Old Jail is going in. Margaret Blagg has done such a phenomenal job. If Riley got to see this now, he would just be so proud.”