Old state prison to reopen as a tourist destination - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Old state prison to reopen as a tourist destination

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New-Gate prison in East Granby will reopen as a tourist attraction (WFSB) New-Gate prison in East Granby will reopen as a tourist attraction (WFSB)
EAST GRANBY, CT (WFSB) -

It’s been closed for nine years, but this weekend, Newgate Prison in East Granby will re-open.

It started as a copper mine in the late 1700's, then became the state's first official prison.

Channel 3 as able to get a tour of the prison.  

Our crew went underground into the mine and got a sense this place has been here for a long time.

Down the stairs is a colonial copper mine.  It’s cool and damp there and only a few lights mark a rocky and steep path.

Copper was discovered on this site in 1705.

The mine operated for 40 years and then was converted into a state prison.

Budget cuts and badly needed work forced New-Gate to close, but the state recently bonded $1.5 million to restore this historic site.

"It's a big draw. There are people who travel around the large geographic area and quite frankly it’s been an international attraction as well,” said Governor Dannel Malloy.

At any given time in the early 1800's, there were 100 men there.

There were also 4 women, then the women were moved into a taller building. 

One of those women had murdered her husband.

“Yeah, she murdered her husband. Thirza Mansfield, we are doing a play about her, and some of the other characters to get her story out there, so she was interesting,” said Morgan Bengel, Newgate Prison Curator.

Still standing, remains of the main prison wall and five brick and masonry buildings.

In 1827, the remaining prisoners were transferred to the new state prison in Wethersfield.

Attempts were made after that to reactivate the mines but those ventures failed.

In the 1970's it became a national historic landmark. The state has run it as a museum.

“We plan to really promote how awesome it as, entertainment factor, but also educational value of this being an American revolution site,” said Bengel.

This Saturday, Newgate re-opens and they are expecting a big crowd, as many as 2,000 people.

It will be a celebration of one of Connecticut’s most interesting treasures.

The cost is $6 for adults, while children under 12 are free.

Copyright 2018 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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