Jackson in Jackson County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
First State Prison
Erected 1958 by Michigan Historical Commission. (Marker Number S0178.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Michigan Historical Commission marker series.
Location. 42° 15.4′ N, 84° 24.367′ W. Marker is in Jackson, Michigan, in Jackson County. Marker is on North Mechanic Street north of Armory Court, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 640, Jackson MI 49202, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. St. John's Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); Jacksonburg Public Square (approx. 0.6 miles away); First Congregational Church (approx. Horace Ismon / Ismon Building (approx. 0.7 miles away); First Methodist Episcopal Church (approx. 0.7 miles away); First Baptist Church (approx. 0.7 miles away); Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument (approx. ĺ mile away); St. Paul's Episcopal Church (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jackson.
More about this marker. The grounds were used as the armory of the Michigan National Guard until 2007 and now houses The Armory Arts Village and the Armory Arts Apartments.
Regarding First State Prison. In 1837, Michigan became the 26th state. Jackson, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Marshall, Napoleon and Adrian all presented proposals to the newly formed state government to be the locale for Michiganís First State Prison. Jackson won because 60 acres of land donated to the state by five Jackson pioneers would provide enough acreage for the prison cellblocks and the factories and farms where the convicts would work. This land was in the center of town, another important consideration.
In the height of The Industrial Revolution, prisoners
By 1882, Michiganís First State Prison had grown into the largest walled prison on the planet. It included factories that produced binder twine, fabric, machine parts, monuments, furniture, brushes, dishware and more. Inmates were taken across Mechanic Street to the world-famous Jackson Carriage and Wagon Company owned by Austin, Tomlinson and Webster. Here their labor built the number-one selling wagon that took pioneers westward during the Gold Rush. This wagon became the first mechanized automobile in the US going at the remarkable speed of 3 miles per hour!
Punishments were metered
Amidst the harsh life and prison cells that were as small as 5½ x 4½ ft., the prison and the town interacted. A prison band and a baseball team provided weekend and seasonal entertainment for the townsfolk. The huge iron gates were opened, and the genteelly attired townsfolk came with picnic baskets and blankets to be entertained by the band or watch the Clippers, the town baseball team, play against the MSP (Michigan State Prison) team. Annually, a watermelon festival gave Jacksonionís, the opportunity to eat the luscious prison-farm grown watermelons while dancing upon the grounds to the tunes played by the prison band.
Michiganís First State Prison built Jackson into a leading industrial
In 1934, Michiganís First State Prison closed. The inmates were moved three miles up on Cooper Street to the Southern Michigan State Prison.
This information courtesy of Judy Gail Krasnow, Project Director/Historian, Michiganís First State Prison Mural Project
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Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on April 20, 2012, by Dave Wilcox of Grass Lake, Michigan. This page has been viewed 817 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on April 20, 2012, by Dave Wilcox of Grass Lake, Michigan. 6. submitted on November 17, 2014. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.