Although the Catholic Chaplain's offices would probably not be considered a sanctuary, certainly the chaplain would have come here for solace and reflection. And too, the anonymous artist who painted these naive, yet charming murals found this office a place to retreat from his cell and lose himself in his work forgetting for a moment his incarceration.
Sometime between 1872 and 1885 these rooms were constructed in the outdoor area between Cell Blocks 9 and 1. This open, skylit space was originally built for the controversial Warden Michael Cassidy, and the Warden's Office was moved from the Administration Building to this area. Amid security concerns, the Warden's Office was relocated to the Administration Building in 1923–24. It became the Catholic Chaplain's office sometime in the mid-20th century. In May 1955, a convict who had "turned to Roman Catholicism and art" covered the walls of the office with intricate religious paintings. He signed his work not with his name but with "Paul Martin", his two favorite saints. The paintings depict traditional Catholic themes with prison details.
Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829 as part of a controversial movement to change the behavior of inmates through "confinement in solitude with labor," Eastern State Penitentiary quickly became the most expensive and most copied building in the young United States. It is estimated that more than 300 prisons worldwide are based on the Penitentiary's wagon-wheel, or "radial" floor plan.
Some of America's most notorious criminals were held in the Penitentiary's vaulted, sky-lit cells, including bank robber Willie Sutton and Al Capone. After 142 years of consecutive use, Eastern State Penitentiary was completely abandoned in 1971, and now stands, a lost world of crumbling cell blocks and empty guard towers.
Behind the scene : how this panorama was made ▼
For additional panoramas of this site by Will Brown click here