11/10/18. I've wanted to investigate the Old Joliet Prison in Joliet, Illinois, for a long time. The building has been shut down to the public for many years due to hazardous conditions. Finally in 2018 they offered guided tours around Halloween and I jumped at the chance to go.
My tour was not until 8pm. I planned to arrive a few hours early to get some pictures while it was still light out, head out for dinner, then return in time to check out the old prison. At sunset I was able to capture the above picture of the historic building.
The tour started out in the parking lot. A women told us to follow her to the front of the building where we were led in through a locked gate. Nobody took tickets. Nobody checked off names. Anyone could have walked in with us. It was a little strange, but I shrugged it off as not a big deal. We met inside the gate for a group photo which was later posted to the Old Joliet Prison Paranormal Tours and Investigations page. Here is our group photo taken from their Facebook page. I'm the only one in a red coat! As you can see it was really cold out that night.
Joliet Prison opened in 1858 with 33 inmates. The prison shut it's doors in 2002. The prison was designed by William Boyington who also designed the old Water Tower in Chicago. Some of the famous movies that were shot at the prison include The Blues Brothers, Natural Born Killers, Public Enemy, Derailed, Stir of Echoes, also TV shows Prison Break (first season), Bones (season 2, episode 12), and The Untouchables. The prison even cranked out some actors, two ex-inmates appeared in Saw II.
The Historian took us first through the Burns District, named after numerous buildings that were subject to arson fires in 2014 and 2017. These buildings are not salvageable and include the Mechanic Shop and the Mattress Shop.
She told us the prison was built in this particular location because of a natural cistern, used for fresh drinking water for the inmates. Some natural aspects of the location could aid in paranormal activity. Water is a conductor of energy. Spirits may use the cistern as a source of energy to manifest activity. There are tunnels underground that the guards used to get from building to building. The tunnels are now flooded, another source of energy. There is a limestone quarry across the street that is also flooded. Limestone conducts energy. Many of the buildings on the prison grounds are made of limestone that was quarried on the site. She told us about the "Stone Tape Theory" that suggests inanimate objects can absorb memories and emotions which are imprinted into that object and plays back like a recording.
The Historian, who works for Chicago Hauntings, was very informative and friendly. We really liked her.
The first building we went into was Solitary Confinement. We were told there were hangings by suicide here and a man was murdered and dismembered with his body parts scattered on the stairwell that leads to Death Row, which we did not have access to. A woman who was on the tour said she previously saw a full bodied apparition in this building.
The Hospital was built in 1895 and is one of the most active buildings according to the Historian. Tuberculosis patients were kept on the second floor. The third floor was used for psychiatric treatments.
The Historian did confirm there is black mold and asbestoses in the buildings so there is a lot of work to be done. The Administration Building is the first building with plans to be renovated with a museum as a possibility on the first floor, then the gym and cafeteria may be the next buildings to be restored.
THE PARANORMAL INVESTIGATORS
There were two local paranormal investigators who told us about the paranormal activity and led some ghost box sessions. They started off the tour by telling us and I quote, "There is a lot of evil here." I brought an audio recorder with me, not to capture evidence, as that is impossible in a large group of people, but to record information about the jail that I could use in this blog. Those were the exact words used. I have been investigating the paranormal for many years. Let's just say for someone to start off telling me the spirits are evil in this location did not make a good impression. I was unimpressed with the paranormal portion of the event.
Joliet Prison has the potential to be a great location to tour. Unfortunately, there are not many buildings open at this time. We were unable to go into the actual cell blocks. Since nobody took tickets or counted how many people were there, that I could see, I felt like someone could have easily been left behind and locked in with no way out.
The Historian told us they hope to offer the location to paranormal investigators in the future. The only way I would return is if I can rent the entire location out for myself. There are very few group paranormal tours that I like. There's too many people and no way to actually investigate. We liked the Historian but not the paranormal investigators, and for that reason, I would not return for another tour. I hope that we can rent out the location for a private investigation, but have concerns the charge may be an exorbitant amount. They offered a tour with psychic, Chris Fleming, that was $125.00 a person for only 2 hours, way too much in my opinion.
Audio file of the paranormal investigators stating "There is a lot of evil here."
UPDATE: 1/15/19. Just as I had feared The Old Joliet Prison is, in fact, charging an outrageous price to investigate - $2,000 for only 3 hours! The buildings with cell blocks are off limits. I am appalled. A friend of mine who runs her own group inquired about an investigation and this was the response. There is no way I will be investigating there.