Information on:

West Virginia Penitentiary

818 Jefferson Avenue


The prison at Joliet provided the prototype for the West Virginia Penitentiary. It was an imposing stone structure fashioned in the castellated Gothic architectural style (adorned with turrets and battlements, like a castle). Only the dimensions of West Virginia's facility would differ; it would be approximately one-half the size of Joliet.

No architectural drawings of the West Virginia Penitentiary have been discovered, so an understanding of the plan developed by the Board of Directors must be obtained through their 1867 report, which details the procurement of a title for ten acres of land and a proposal to enclose about seven acres. On the north side would be a street 60 feet in width, and on the west 140 feet for street and yard to the front buildings.

The prison yard would be a parallelogram 682 1/2 feet in length, by 352 1/2 feet in width, enclosed by a stone wall 5 feet in thickness at the bottom, 2 1/2 feet at the top, with foundation 5 feet below the surface, and wall 25 inches thick. At each of the corners of this wall would be large turrets, for the use of the guards, with inside staircases. Guardrooms would be above on a level with the top of the main. The superintendent's house and cell buildings would be so placed that the rear wall of each would form part of the west wall.


Erin Gray

Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Very interesting if you're into touring historic landmarks... Charles Manson was once transferred and stayed there for awhile. They still have "Old Sparky", the electric chair on display. Once you approach it you will be mesmerized by the architecture and size of the building. They have a haunted attraction during Halloween season and touring year round. You can also pay to go stay overnight and ghost hunt because they claim it is a legit haunted attraction. The show Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel filmed a episode there. I highly recommend a visit! You won't be disappointed!

Michael Collette

Saturday, April 7, 2018
The tour was very entertaining and informative. Our tour guide Jason was very knowledgeable and made it a great experience. The history within this prison is amazing. Their are different tours available. We went on a historical tour. They also offer a paranormal you can go in at night. From what I was told adults can do 10pm to 4am.

Yolanda Aikins

Monday, March 26, 2018
The tour guide we had was very knowledgeable when it came to the history of the prison and prisoners. We did the Historical Tour but they also offer Ghost Tours, which I would love to do next. There were areas that the Historical Tour didn’t access. There was one section in a stair well that I had difficulty breathing in, so beware if your claustrophobic. I had to leave that area very quickly and it took a few minutes to get my breathing under control. This place is a must if your into this kind of thing and it’s definitely kid friendly.

Gary Yeager

Wednesday, May 16, 2018
This I so much enjoyed.very interesting.I know a few who was in there and said it was do the crime you do the time.yea I want to do your tour. I will definitely be back it's so cool how old.very interesting very

Theresa Mariman

Sunday, April 15, 2018
Tour was informative but unfortunately there was no power for most of our tour. We watched a YouTube video and saw a few things not pointed out in our tour that we wish would have been mentioned. Still enjoyed it and took lots of interesting pictures.

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