In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Thomaston: The Town that Went to Sea

Additions and New Wing - 1824 to 1843

Prison Yard Window Shades, Thomaston, Maine c 1870
Prison Yard Window Shades, Thomaston, Maine c 1870

Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

Within four years, local builder Joseph Berry was hired to construct twenty additional cells to relieve the crowded conditions. A small building was erected to house women. Their disposition and employment continued to be a “troublesome affair” for several years. For a time, the windows in the women’s section were covered with shields to block visual views in both directions. It was not until 1935 that women prisoners were removed to the Women's Correctional Center in Skowhegan.

Warden Joel Miller House, Main Street, Thomaston, Maine c 1870
Warden Joel Miller House, Main Street, Thomaston, Maine c 1870

Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

Joel Miller, who was also a Senator and later Judge of Probate in 1836, became the second warden. Warden Miller lived in a house on the site of the current Masonic Temple on Main Street.

Warden Rose resigned within four years of his appointment, but after a couple of years removed his family from Augusta to a house he purchased on Main Street. He remained in Thomaston until his death in 1833, at the age of 61.

On May 16, 1841 an early morning fire consumed two shops in the yard of the State Prison. The leather, carriages and corn stored within were destroyed, amounting to a loss of about $9,000. It was suspected a discharged convict caused the fire.

Prison Cells, Maine State Prison, Thomaston, Maine c 1900
Prison Cells, Maine State Prison, Thomaston, Maine c 1900

Item Contributed by
Thomaston Historical Society

By 1843, after calls by inspectors for a new more humane prison, a new wing was erected. It contained 108 granite cells in two tiers of aboveground cells placed back to back. The individual cell size was 7’ long by 4’ wide by 7’ high, the area between the outer brick walls and the cells being 11’ wide and 25’ high. To address the previous dark cave-like conditions, the plastered walls and split granite floors were whitewashed. The cells were placed off large halls, lined with windows capable of being moved on pulleys and weights. These window openings allowed plenty of light and fresh air. The cells were warmed in the colder months by four box stoves.

<- Prev. Page ................................................................. Next Page ->