“Never Too Late to Mend” is inscribed onto the front of one of the many buildings within the old Collins Street Prison. A tour by the Joliet Historical Museum showed the decay, overgrown trees and disrepair of the 19th Century prison. It was built in the 1850’s and Joliet was chosen as the site for the prison due to area’s availability of limestone. The West prison sits on approximately 20 acres with about 25 buildings. Homer tree service will be the first step to begin the long process of bringing the prison back to life. Clearing the brush is the first step. One of the buildings WJOL toured was the North Segregation Building or solitary confinement. The most dangerous criminal element were housed at the North Segregation Building.
Within the expansive property, there is a library, laundry facility, and even a chapel that was built in the 60’s. If the chapel could be renovated the Joliet Historical Museum believes it could easily rent it out for weddings to the tune of 10-thousand dollars. Evil Intentions is creating a haunted house at the East Prison which used to be the women’s prison. They hope to open this fall.
The East Prison has 160 acres of open land and also houses the State Crime lab which is in use today.
The attraction, entitled Joliet Haunted Prison, invites people to “… experience real fear inside the massive two story cell blocks. Evil Intentions is opening the doors to the terrifying Old Joliet Prison” In December, the Joliet City Council voted to approve an agreement with the Illinois Department of Corrections to stabilize and find use for the facility. The Joliet Correctional Center originally closed in 2002.
Former Collins Street Warden Dennis Wolff will talk about some of the most notorious inmates on WJOL on Wednesday.
Note: Photos Taken by Scott Slocum and Monica DeSantis