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Thomaston: The Town that Went to Sea

Prison is Established - 1823

Dr. Rose House, Thomaston, ca. 1960s
Dr. Rose House, Thomaston, ca. 1960sItem Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

Dr. Daniel Rose, born at North Bradford, CT in 1772, graduated from Yale in 1791 and settled in Alna, ME. He was an engineer during the War of 1812 and later practiced medicine in Boothbay and Wiscasset. He was a member of the newly formed Maine State Senate from 1820 to 1824 and presided as President of the Maine Senate from 1823-24. In 1822, the Honorable Dr. Rose was appointed to a committee of three to study the punishment of convicts and the establishment of a prison. He had a great interest in the reformation of criminals and became very involved in the layout of the new prison. His design called for 56 individual cells to be dug into the ground, constructed so “that even their aspect might be terrific, and appear like what they should…dark and comfortless abodes of guilt and wretchedness.” It was his intent to reform criminals by “cutting off hope of relief during the term sentenced” in accommodations furnished with the barest of necessities.

Location of Maine State Prison from Early Map, Thomaston, Maine 1855
Location of Maine State Prison from Early Map, Thomaston, Maine 1855Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

In May of 1823, the Thomaston site was accepted as a suitable location for the prison. The State purchased the property from Governor King for $3000. The lot was described as follows: A certain piece or tract of land in Thomaston with a quarry of limestone thereon, beginning in the southerly line of the county road 100’ westerly of the northwest corner of land conveyed by Lucy Knox to John Paine, whereon Paine’s store, so called, now stands; Said state to build and support all divisional fences around this lot.

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