With much anticipation I toured the Fort Madison State Penitentiary, an infamous prison here in Iowa. The original state prison in Ft. Madison, Iowa opened as a territory prison in 1839. Iowa became a state in 1846. The prison was used until August 2015 when a new prison was built and the inmates were transported in about 6 and 1/2 hours, approximately 700 inmates. As the state still owns the property, they need to have a study done as to what needs to be done to the property before any future plans can be made. To help offset the cost of the study, they have on two weekends so far in 2017, opened the prison for tours. So today, I went to prison, well… only to tour the Ft. Madison State Penitentiary.
I had thought that touring the old prison would be creepy and somewhat scary. But that was not the case, and somewhat disappointing. I had planned to photograph the prison as if I was a new inmate and show all of the fear that I would be feeling with being a new inmate in a maximum security prison. That plan quickly changed as it was a beautiful sunny fall day and the feeling I thought I would feel didn’t happen. The gentleman that led our tour is a current guard at the new prison and was a guard at the original prison for about 30 years. He was a terrific tour guide, very knowledgeable, didn’t go too fast and answered all of our questions.
I took several photos inside and outside of the prison. In the gallery below are all images from inside the walls of the historic state penitentiary. I chose to process most of the images in black and white, not to hide color, but thought they were more interesting. A few are in color to show how some areas look in person.
In a future post, I will show photos of the outside of the prison. The architecture is quite interesting. So for today, a gallery of images ( you can click on any of the images to see a larger version) from inside the Ft. Madison State Penitentiary.