Old Prison

Old Prison (HMCTL)

Location: Carlisle, PA 17013 Cumberland County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 12.084', W 77° 11.212'

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Walking Tour Stop 5

Visitors are surprised and delighted to see an English looking castle standing in the heart of downtown Carlisle, but they wonder what it is and when it was built. For 130 years it was the Cumberland County Prison, and when it was constructed in 1834 it represented the latest fashion in Pennsylvania prison architecture made popular by architect John Haviland.

An earlier prison was erected at this location in 1754, and even though it was deemed unfit for human incarceration as early as the 1770's, it remained in use for another 80 years. Escapes were a common occurrence and for years the people of Carlisle pleaded for a new and stronger jail. In 1854, this prison was built, but determined inmates still managed to regularly break out. Some inmates chipped the plaster and mortar from the walls, removed the stones and crawled through the holes. Then lowering themselves from the cell block to the ground with blankets, they scaled the outer wall and fled. Others escaped by filing through the iron bars of their cells, and one prisoner even set fire to his flooring planks hoping to escape through the smoke screen. He failed.

The brownstone used in the construction of the 1854 prison was quarried in York County, Pennsylvania, and stones from the first prison were most likely used to make the prison yard walls. While the prison yard was used mainly for exercise, the last hanging in the county took place there in 1894 when Charles Salyards was hanged for the murder of Policeman Charles E. Martin.

In 1984, a larger modern facility was built on Claremont Road, and the "old" prison has been readapted for county use.
Placed ByOld Carlisle, Inc
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 12th, 2014 at 10:58pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 313871 N 4452404
Decimal Degrees40.20140000, -77.18686667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 12.084', W 77° 11.212'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 12' 5.04" N, 77° 11' 12.72" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)717
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 35-99 E High St, Carlisle PA 17013, US
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