Two 1-ton cells from Connecticut’s old Wethersfield prison may be featured in an interactive learning center at a local cultural museum, says the Hartford Courant. “It’s something that Wethersfield needs to have. This is a homecoming,” said Frank Winiarski, a history enthusiast and expert on the prison. “They’re back where they were originally installed, maybe a half mile from their original site.” The steel cells are believed to be the only remaining ones from the Wethersfield prison, which held Amy Archer-Gilligan, the inspiration for “Arsenic and Old Lace,” in the early 1900s, and the last person executed there in 1960.
When assembled, the cells measure 8 feet by 5 feet and are equipped with iron bunks suspended by angled chains, and doors adorned by a pattern of cut-out stars for ventilation. They were delivered to the prison in 1900 for use in the segregated block that housed female prisoners and later death row inmates. Famous figures including Charles Dickens and Alexis de Tocqueville visited in the 1820s and 1830s as they studied public facilities. Wethersfield was lauded for its workshops, which manufactured goods such as shoes and boots, cane-seat chairs, spectacles, clocks and at one time even rifles and pistols.