Bucks County Jail
This prison cell is modeled on a cell from the old Bucks County Jail, the former occupant of this site. Designed by the noted Philadelphia architect Addison Hutton, the jail was built in 1884 and was based on Quaker ideas of reflection and penitence that dominated the American prison system in the 19th century.
The prison design used the "pinwheel" concept typical of Quaker prisons: there were 58 cells located along three hallways, each connected to the central guard house (now the Byers Gallery). Prisoners were kept in solitary confinement, where they were expected to quietly contemplate their crimes and mend their ways through restoration of the inner connection with God (what Quakers call the "Inward Light.") To promote humility, doors to the cells had low openings so the prisoners would have to bow their heads when entering and leaving.
The jail was occupied until May 1985 when it was closed due to inhumane conditions brought on by serious overcrowding and a deteriorating facility. That same year the Warden's House on Pine Street was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and Sites.
[front] Bucks County Prison, January 1967.
[back, top] A prison cell, November 1981.
[back, bottom] A guard and inmates in one of the prison's three corridors. May 1980.
Erected by the James A. Michener Museum.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Man-Made Features. In addition, it is included in the Quakerism series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1884.
Location. 40° 18.488′ N, 75° 7.581′ W. Marker is in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, in Bucks County. Marker is on the grounds of the James A. Michener Art Museum. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 138 South Pine Street, Doylestown PA 18901, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Last Hanging (a few steps from this marker); The Site (within shouting distance of this marker); The Museum (within shouting distance of this marker); The Expansion (within shouting distance of this marker); Corporate Business Partner Entrance Courtyard and W.B.U.X. Sculpture Garden (within shouting distance of this marker); The Mercer Museum (within shouting distance of this marker); Thinking Green (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); W. Atlee Burpee (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Doylestown.
Also see . . .
1. James A. Michener Art Museum History
2. Bucks County Prison Photographs and Ephemera Collection ARC1998.1-119 Finding Aid. (Submitted on March 4, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Credits. This page was last revised on March 22, 2020. It was originally submitted on March 4, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 436 times since then and 101 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 4, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.