Maine State Prison Showroom.

Maine State Prison - tour or demolish? Gift shop fate uncertain

The leaky and deteriorating Maine State Prison may be demolished if no one in Maine can be convinced to turn it into a tourist attraction. Keeping 'em locked up since 1824, the place still houses killers and all manner of vile criminals -- the kind that inspired the lovable miscreants in Stephen King's "The Shawshank Redemption." Some scenes for that film were shot at the Ohio State Reformatory (down the street from the Living Bible Museum), in Mansfield, OH. Prison tourism boosters say the Maine State Prison could also enjoy a second life as a Hollywood set, while offering profitable tours to Route 1 vacationers.

The adjacent Maine State Prison Sales Outlet is already a popular area destination. The old brick prison wall rears up next to the Sales Outlet parking lot -- impressively garlanded with razor wire and guard towers.

The Outlet store was tidy, overrun by khaki older white couples during our summer visit. It featured a lot of woodworking; little ship models and overpriced bookshelves and chests of drawers. But they are made by the prisoners... There were some "Property of Maine State Prisons" t-shirts and coffee mugs. No floaty pens filled with contraband, or Cellblock Riot snowglobes. Yet.


Maine State Prison Showroom

358 Main St., Thomaston, ME
On the west edge of town, on the south side of US 1, at the corner of Brooklyn Heights Rd. Next to the big, open field that used to be the prison. Also check out that last corner left of the old prison wall.
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