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Thomaston: The Town that Went to Sea

Maine State Prison

Text by Margaret McCrea. Images from Maine Historical Society and the Thomaston Historical Society.

Maine State Prison Model, Thomaston, Maine
Maine State Prison Model, Thomaston, Maine

Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

The Maine State Prison stood in Thomaston from 1824 until it was razed in 2002.
When Maine became a state as part of the Missouri Compromise in 1820, a prison was required to provide for state convicts.

William King owned a large tract of land in Thomaston, formerly owned by General Henry Knox. This property included Limestone Hill and its nearly 100-year-old lime quarry, a wharf and stores on Wadsworth Street.

Looking southeast toward Wadsworth Street Bridge, Thomaston, ca. 1890
Looking southeast toward Wadsworth Street Bridge, Thomaston, ca. 1890

Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

King was politically active as early as 1795 as a member of the Democratic-Republican Party, serving in both the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the Senate. He became a Major General during the War of 1812, in charge of the Maine District. Following the war, he started an effort to petition Massachusetts for separation.

In March 1820, in recognition of his political service, William King was elected as the first Governor of the State of Maine. In this position, he was involved in determining where a state prison would be located. He had left his Thomaston lime business and farm property in the hands of Captain Ballard Green and Peter H. Green (brothers) and found the property was not yielding a profitable investment. It was suggested as a logical site for a prison. Located midway along the Maine coast, the site had desirable access by the Georges River. One of its most desirable features was the presence of a limestone quarry, a perfect outlet for prison labor.