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Idaho State Penitentiary -
Place - Idaho State Penitentiary State Historic Site
1109 Main Street
Boise, Idaho 83702
Regular Hours ......................................Summer Hours
September through May...................... Memorial Day through Labor Day
7 days a week..................................... 7 days a week
12pm to 5pm....................................... 10am to 5pm
The Old Pen is located off of Warm Springs Avenue in east Boise, at the base of Table Rock. Free parking is available behind the Bishops' House in the dirt parking lot.
DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY:
When the Idaho Territory
was less than 10 years old, the need for a prison became evident. So in
1870, using prisoner labor, the first structures were built using hand-cut
sandstone. Other sandstone buildings are found in the center yard and
include cellhouses 1, 2, & 3, the commissary, the Barber Shop, the hospital,
the chapel and a dining hall and kitchen, which was designed by an inmate,George
Hamilton, who was a skilled draftsman before he was incarcerated, when
he wasn't busy robbing people on the highway.
Around 1923, new additional
buildings were built using stucco. A multi-purpose building, originally
built as a shirt factory, was quite a large retangle shaped structure,
which was used for many things over the penn's long history.
In 1923, a solitary confinement
building, located in the left hand corner of the walled prison was also
added. Small, dark individual cells with a bed and a toilet were provided.
In 1952 and 1954, concrete
was used to construct another 4 cellhouse and a maximun security cellhouse
5, which had the honor of having the Gallows upstairs, moving it from
its traditional place in the rose garden.
The years from 1870 - 1934
were free of prisoner riots. This peace ended in 1935, with a melee in
the dining hall, with dishes and table going everywhere. 1952 - Major
damage costing thousands of dollars to the multi-purpose building resulted
when 250 guests of the state took over the building in protest when the
warden broke his promise and sent four ringleaders to solitary after an
1966 - was a peaceful strike
by 300 inmates over better living conditions and for the reopening of
1971 - A very hostile, 3
hour riot which resulted in looting of prison hospital and commissary,
destruction by fire of the social services building, amounting to around
$25,000 in damage. 2 inmates were shived and another inmate was killed.
The riot caused moving of prisoners
to a modern prison: The mother of all riots happened in 1973, doing
about $100,000 in damage. 4 buildings were set a fire; the dining hall
and the chapel burned to the ground, leaving just the barest of shells.
This violent riot was sparked by the false claims made by a prisoner
in the maximum security building who claimed the guards had roughed him
Solitary Confinement building - Called
Siberia: Cold spots and apparitions are seen here.
The Rose Garden - Being the place where
the portable gallows was set up during the early years, apparitions
and cold spots have been seen there as well.
Building 5, Maximum Security, death
row - An inmate living on death row jumped off the third floor and killed
himself. He makes his presence known by causing batteries to go dead,
and has been seen as a greenish light.