Prisoner Artwork In 1800s Jail Cells In Wiscasset, Maine Will Give You The Creeps
On the side of the road in a quiet residential area in Wiscasset, Maine stands one of the oldest remaining jails in the state. The 1811 Old Lincoln County Jail and 1839 Jailer’s House on Federal Street saw the last prisoner in 1953. Today the cells, their barred windows, and the home of the jailer who kept watch is open for daring explorers who aren’t intimidated by the creepy stone structure.
According to the Lincoln County Historical Society, the 1811 jail was actually the second jail in Lincoln County. It replaced an existing jail in Pownalborough that had fallen into disrepair, after over crowding and many inmate escapes.
The 1811 jail was initially constructed of 12-inch thick timber and lined with thick oak planks and a layer of plaster. The walls were later reinforced with stone to prevent the same escapes that occurred at the earlier jail.
The jail served Lincoln County for nearly 150 years. Although it was voted to be closed in 1913, some prisoners were held there sporadically until the early 1950s.
The historical society has very little information available about prisoner treatment on their website, however, they share photos of the cells and some of the walls are covered with prisoner “graffiti”. The term is hardly indicative of the artwork. One inmate sketched a gorgeous old schooner ship on the white plastered walls.
The Old Jail also contains several unique and remarkable examples of prisoner graffiti – a beautiful drawing of a large sailing ship, a detailed navigational map of the world, a cartoon-like drawing of a soldier, fragments of poetry, names and dates – all still on the walls where they were left well over a hundred years ago.
No matter the weather, it feels just a few degrees colder walking through the halls of the three-story jail. Very little light shines through the barred windows. People who have visited the jail love to whisper stories of ghosts and spirits wandering the halls. It’s easy to believe the stories when you see the cells and barred doors with your own eyes.
You can tour the 1811 Jail and the Jailer’s House in the summer months through early fall. For tour schedule, hours and tickets, visit the Lincoln County Historical Society website.