- Historic Sites
In Windsor Prison
IT BEGAN AS America’s most modern penal institution, and for generations the Vermont State Prison reflected the changing ways by which we thought we should punish our wrongdoers. Then a tormented era and a ghastly crime combined to end its old career—and give it a surprising new one.
May/June 1996 | Volume 47, Issue 3
Everything inside the massive buildings above the basement was gutted, but some old cells from the 1870s are intact down in the depths, used now for storage, the barred doors still in place. An empty guard tower looks down on the entranceway through whose vanished metal doors Francis Blair and his fellow escapee crashed the truck more than forty years ago. The window of the room in which Mary Rogers spent her last night, ninety years gone now, can instantly be picked out from old photographs, and the location of the scaffold in the yard. Where she danced on the ground old people now stroll, for most of the tenants are retirees helped with their rent by a HUD subsidy. They can see the mountains, for a portion of the great wall was knocked down to open up the view. One wing of Olde Windsor Village is reserved for low-income families. Some of the oldsters like having kids around; some grumble at the noise they make playing ball or building snowmen as they run over the lawn where the bodies of the unclaimed convicts lie below.