Echoes of Inmate Life in an Abandoned Prison

These walls do talk, and they speak volumes.  As years without regular maintenance stretch on, inmates’ names, artwork, and personal effects remain in the walls of this abandoned Midwestern correctional facility, many revealed through several layers of peeling paint by time and water damage.

As more windows are broken and the structure becomes more exposed to the elements, any sort of markings in ink, graphite, or carvings in the wall will alter the peeling and cracking patterns of the paint to reflect any patterns beneath.  Names, tally marks, tic tac toe games, and sometimes just repetitive patterns, perhaps to pass the time, have risen to the surface, many of which appear to be from the 1970’s-80’s.

On the ceilings in the main, highest-security building on the campus, they’d done some writing by drawing burn patterns with matches.  The rubbery paint used for the most recent layers was remarkably incapable of hanging on.

The outbuildings had much more recent artifacts of inmates’ lives that were much more subtle – in fact, I’d already run through a few of them once before and considered them mostly empty and uninteresting, though with lovely hand painted details throughout the common areas.  But as I wove in and out of each cell looking  a little more closely, I realized that the rooms I’d written off were still very much full of life.  Items from handmade yarn crafts displayed within the utilities, puffy paint light switches, decorated bulletin boards, to contraband cigarettes and matches extinguished and still stuck where mirrors used to cover the wall remained hidden throughout the small, private cells.  Many inmates decorated their bulletin boards with magazine clippings and paper flowers, and glitter glue was abundant.

At least in the older building, more will be revealed over time and I look forward to seeing what is revealed as nature takes its course.  For all you location hunters, this one’s a secret for now, check back in a few years! 😉

9 thoughts on “Echoes of Inmate Life in an Abandoned Prison

  1. Amazing. Seeing the lettering and how the cracks form around it. I wonder how many layers of paint are on those walls. How much more will be revealed. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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