100 Armory Ct., Jackson, MI 49202
Most normal people try to stay out of prison, but then again, I never claimed to be normal.
The best way to go to prison, so to speak, and learn about Michigan’s fascinating prison history is to take the Jackson Historic Prison Tour. The tour is absolutely fascinating and will take you from the prison’s notorious past to the modern and efficient methods of today.
The tour starts at the historic Michigan Theatre where, through a combination of film and live storytelling, you get to hear and see the fascinating history of Michigan’s First State Prison established in 1839. You’ll hear all about prison life, colorful inmates, wardens, night-keepers, punishments, solitary and secret tunnels. You even get to board a bus and visit 7-block, a fully intact but now closed cellblock that was in operation from 1934 until 2007. In the prison yard you also get to hear stories about riots, reforms, guards, infamous prisoners and the one-and-only helicopter escape. You even get to eat a catered lunch right where the prisoners used to eat.
After your escape from the prison, the bus takes you to a very cool and eclectic gallery and mall called ART 634. In the 1850s the Art 634 building was a wagon and carriage factory adjacent to the prison. This historic building has been reborn into a place of creativity. There you’ll find music, dance, photography, painting, sculpture, jewelry, pottery and community theater. Oh, and the prison tour gift shop… bonus!