Jail frozen in time: McNairy Co. preserves life of Buford Pusser

SELMER, Tenn. — The basement of the McNairy County Courthouse has been home to a small museum showing the working life of Sheriff Buford Pusser.

But a short elevator ride up will give you a whole new experience.

“You can see the jail as it was literally the day the inmates moved out in 1994,” Sheriff Guy Buck said.

For 25 years, the jail was used for storage.

“Because of a lot of frustrations of people who were really motivated about turning this place into something more than a storage facility, the ball got rolling a couple of year ago, maybe three years ago,” Sheriff Buck said.

Then, in 2016, the county applied for a grant. Now they’re almost ready to open to the public.

“It’s just going to make a complete package of the Buford Pusser story that everyone knows and loves,” Chamber and Tourism Director Jessica Huff said.

Signs are even being installed marking the place of his birth, an ambush, and other milestones of Sheriff Pusser’s life.

Although this jail hasn’t been used in almost 25 years, inmates left behind things they used to spruce up their living spaces — everything from one-eyed monsters, scenic sketches of farms and colorful paintings.

Officials hope this brings even bigger things to the city.

“I like to dream big,” Sheriff Buck said. “I would like to see this not only be a Pusser experience, I would love to see it become the Tennessee State Law Enforcement Museum.”

Huff says she hopes to have the museum open by July.

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