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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Sugar Land in Fort Bend County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Texas Prison System Central State Farm Main Building

 
 
Central State Prison Farm Marker image. Click for full size.
By Gregory Walker, February 21, 2010
1. Central State Prison Farm Marker
Inscription. Central State Farm's roots trace to the late 1870s, when the original 5235 acres of the sugar plantation here were worked by convict labor. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, public sentiment largely supported a self-sustaining prison system, with no state funds for facilities or operations. Beginning in 1878, Edward H. Cunningham and Littleberry A. Ellis leased prison labor from the state. They housed prisoners here on a sugarcane plantation. Ellis' land, which came to be called "Sartartia," developed with the construction of an onsite mill named the Imperial Mill.

Despite harsh living conditions at such farm camps around Texas, the leasing program continued until the 1910s. The plantation and mill operation at this site were bought in 1907 by the Imperial Sugar Company; the state bought the plantation in 1908 and renamed it Imperial State Prison Farm. The Texas Legislature agreed in the late 1920s to economic reform measures that initiated prison industrial operations, led to the classification of convicts based on rehabilitative theory and improved convict living conditions. In 1930, construction on the Central State Prison Farm facilities began at this site.

The Austin firm of Gieseke and Harris designed the new buildings; Bertram Gieseke's father, noted architecture professor F.E. Gieseke, served as a consultant
Central State Prison Farm seen across the prison farm fields. image. Click for full size.
By Gregory Walker, February 21, 2010
2. Central State Prison Farm seen across the prison farm fields.
on materials and techniques, which centered on poured, reinforced concrete technology. The main building, comprised of administrative offices and dormitories, was completed in 1932 as the first modernized structure in the Texas prison system. The Art Moderne design features stepped pilasters, chamfered corners, a square tower with pyramidal roof, and metal casement windows. Today, it stands as a reminder of 20th-century prison reforms.

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2003.
 
Erected 2003 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 12990.)
 
Location. 29° 36.54′ N, 95° 39.625′ W. Marker is in Sugar Land, Texas, in Fort Bend County. Marker is at the intersection of U.S. 90A and Midway Drive, on the right when traveling west on U.S. 90A. Click for map. On right-hand side of driveway near red brick entrance wall. Marker is in this post office area: Sugar Land TX 77478, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Sugar Land Refinery (approx. 1.7 miles away); Hodge's Bend Cemetery (approx. 2.2 miles away); Stafford's Point (approx. 4.8 miles away); Dismounted Texas Cavalry (approx. 5.1 miles away);
Central State Prison Farm entrance with historical marker to the right. image. Click for full size.
By Gregory Walker, February 21, 2010
3. Central State Prison Farm entrance with historical marker to the right.
Site of the Home of Mirabeau B. Lamar (approx. 5.9 miles away); Site of Fort Bend (approx. 6.2 miles away); Site of the Home of Randal Jones (approx. 6.2 miles away); Morton Cemetery (approx. 6.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Sugar Land.
 
Regarding Texas Prison System Central State Farm Main Building. Sometimes prisoners can still be seen working the fields, supervised by prison guards on horseback.
 
Categories. AgricultureGovernmentNotable Buildings
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Gregory Walker of La Grange, Texas. This page has been viewed 2,564 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Gregory Walker of La Grange, Texas. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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