TIM KAUGER
131011_StoningtonBeach_002.jpg

blog

Welcome to my pedestal. 

That one time I went to an abandoned prison

Medical science tells us that blue is the most calming color. I couldn't help but think that as I stood in a former solitary confinement cell, its door nearly latched to closely replicate what life was like for hundreds of inmates who have since passed to other facilities. 

I paced to the window and back a few times. The blue wasn't really helping.

The walls may have been painted over upon this prison's closing, but what couldn't be erased were the manic etchings in the doorway area. Stare at them long enough, and the energy of those held here seeps into the margins of your consciousness; boredom, anger, and insanity were contained inside these placid blue walls. It's cliché for a reason. 

I won't reveal the location of this prison, because there's no lazy attempts at graffiti, smashed furniture, or snuffed fires -- the telltale signs of a particular breed of trespassing asshole. This place is just beginning its journey back into the Earth; other locations I've visited are in their twilight and nearing collapse. If I can play a part, however minor, in preserving the stillness here, I will.

The energy in this place is still intimidating, as cell doors still slide on their hinges with rumbling assurance and switchboard buttons carry an authoritative click. The basements of the buildings whistle with a cool breeze from the labyrinth of dark tunnels that connect them (I didn't explore them at the behest of the property owner and event organizer). Still-intact windows are reinforced with steel mesh, and the barbed wire that's splayed throughout the property still looks as fresh as the day it was hung. 

Mop up the gelatinous mold, repaint the walls, remove the scurrying wildlife from the ceilings, and do some vacuuming, and this place will be ready to accept inmates again. Other abandoned places are fascinating in how they've aged; this one is just as interesting in how it hasn't.

Scratched on a window of a solitary cell door is the word "HOPE", written to read correctly from the outside. We can never know the intended recipient and what the writer intended. Perhaps it was to show administration that they weren't broken despite abuse. Maybe they wanted to show passing inmates that even in the bleakest of circumstances, life is still to be treated as a gift. 

Earlier on in the decade, state officials closed the prison and everyone was moved on to other facilities (for a litany of reasons). Many are still incarcerated and could probably spin tales about this facility. Whether deserved or not, their time spent here still lingers in tiny stories, be it a journal discarded in a dusty corner or messages scratched into paint. 

I hope that this place remains relatively untouched, because I have much more documenting to do. If you happen to locate it online, please don't spread the word; this is a gem of a spot. Eventually, entryways will be created and it'll be ransacked. As of now, though, this prison sits like a polaroid that's just beginning to fade.