An Abandoned Maximum Security Prison in Detroit Is Haunting
Photos| | By David Clarke
In 2004, the Detroit House of Corrections closed its doors forever. The maximum security facility quickly went from being a holding place for some of the state’s worst criminals, to a ruined and crumbling mess that couldn’t be saved. A quick walk inside the building reveals peeling paint, mold, rust, water damage, and other creepy visages of an abandoned facility that housed some of the worst of the worst and most interesting criminals in Michigan.
The prison was recently captured in its current state by YouTube channel “TheUnknownCameraman.” While the footage shown is creepy, it is also captivating and hauntingly beautiful. The facility has a long and troubling history. It first opened in 1861 as a medium-security building. In 1920, officials changed the facility into a prison farm camp. Under the new structure, the prison’s inmates slept in tents. It would have been a very uncomfortable situation given the cold winter months regularly experienced in the state. Here’s a photo of the prison taken in the 1800s. While the facility was listed as a maximum security building in the 1930s, it was mostly a medium-security home to bootleggers during prohibition. The prison closed forever in 2004 and much of the equipment in the prison was left behind to rust and decay. Weeds have also started to overtake much of the outside of the facility. One of the creepiest rooms in the building is the infirmary. The room was quickly abandoned and holds a history of treating many prisoners. The prison is still monitored by 24/7 security officers — a product of the facility being owed by the city of Detroit. Before it became a crumbling mess, the Detroit House of Correction was a beautiful building and a landmark of the area where it stands. The prison continued to experience various transitions throughout its life cycle. In 1986, it was renamed to Western Wayne Correctional Facility, at which time it became a women’s facility until its closure. When the facility shut its doors, the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti took in all of the remaining prisoners. Following the building’s closure, several property developers spent more than $60 million purchasing the building, and more than 250 acres surrounding the facility. After the property changed hands several times, property taxes were not paid and much of the facility and the land surrounding it ended up back in the hands of Detroit city officials. There are currently no plans to reinvent the facility. Given the state of the building, it’s likely that the land around the facility will one day be redeveloped for other purposes. At this time, city officials have no likely plans for the historical spot.
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