Ever since I was a little girl I was curious about the Old Joliet Prison. That's a weird thing to say, right? In my defense, it looked like an enormous castle with its gothic architecture and tall limestone walls. The prison has been vacant for some time now and they just recently started to offer tours, which I highly recommend if you have the opportunity.
Upon arrival, I was one of 4 people signed up for the tour. We had a guided tour where we walked the grounds and learned of the history. Most of the buildings are in too rough of shape to enter although we were allowed to enter a few of them. The cafeteria building, the hospital, and the smaller jail cell building. The most memorable of these buildings was the hospital. Built over 100 years those walls have a lot of stories to tell and you can feel it. After the guided tour we were free to split up and roam around. I took so many photos in those 2 hours its not even funny. I re-visited the buildings we could enter only this time alone. I'm normally not one to get spooked easily at all but let me tell you, that hospital is creepy. I didn't stay in there longer than 10 or 15 minutes by myself and even the time in there I just had a very uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I got some cool shots though! The small jail cell building was pretty wild too. To stand in a cell all alone surrounded by 4 solid walls that once contained 100+ years worth of prisoners is a strange feeling. I found myself wondering about the people who resided there in the past, wondering what crimes did they commit, and just imaging the immense solitude they must've felt.
I love visiting historic locations like this. I love feeling the history it leaves behind and imagining the people who graced the property, even if they were society's outcasts and criminals. This facility opened in 1958 and housed prisoners of war during the Civil War. Some famous inmates were Leopold and Loeb, James Earl Ray, John Wayne Gacy, and famous fictional character Jake Blues from Blues Brothers. To learn more and sign up to take a tour please visit Old Joliet Prison's website.