Thursday, February 24, 2011

Old York County Prison, Pennsylvania

Near the York Revolution baseball stadium, lies an imposing fortress of abandonment, and solitude. The original prison on this sight was built in 1853, with it's imposing castle facade, it was sure to intimidate. The trapdoor near the warden's office used for hangings didn't hurt, either.

Designed by B.F. Willis, there was originally a complex of several other buildings right next to the prison, including the York poorhouse, and a hospital, which have since made way for an elementary school.

Today the prison still stands, although the castle facade was torn down when construction was done to the prison. In 1908, during re-construction there was almost an uproar at the prison, as inmates got very anxious over a fire that had started over some faulty construction equipment. During the 1950's, the prison again received some more bad press when overcrowded prisoners were forced to stay in padded cells. There are also stories of segregation and misuse of African-American inmates during this time as well. But one of the most disturbing tales of this time tells of inmates being forced to eat road kill and venison the deputies would gather up along the roads. The prison eventually closed in 1979 when a newly expansive super-maximum facility was built in Springettsbury Township.

One of the most interesting things about this place is that it's for sale. Having been on the market since 2007, several investors have had a few great ideas, such as a nightclub, hotel, Halloween attraction, and even a restaurant. At 30,000 square feet seems like they all could work. Guess they couldn't come up with the 3.9 million asking price.

Aside from the desolateness of the place, there's still some prison flair left in the place. A few of the cells have hand carved drawings in them, including one with a portrait of Jimi Hendrix, surrounded by titles of many popular songs from eras past.

The prison is not open to the public and is posted with "no trespassing" signs. We would not recommend taking any visits to the inside without permission of the real estate company which owns the property. Several inside visitors have noticed use of the prison by homeless squatters and addicts, although for the right price it could be yours. Just let them know Outta the Way sent you, we could use the $25,000 finders fee!

Video of Old Prison
An inside look

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