This prison cell is modeled on a cell from the old Bucks County Jail, the former occupant of this site. Designed by the noted Philadelphia architect Addison Hutton, the jail was built in 1884 and was based on Quaker ideas of reflection and penitence that dominated the American prison system in the 19th century.
The prison design used the "pinwheel" concept typical of Quaker prisons: there were 58 cells located along three hallways, each connected to the central guard house (now the Byers Gallery). Prisoners were kept in solitary confinement, where they were expected to quietly contemplate their crimes and mend their ways through restoration of the inner connection with God (what Quakers call the "Inward Light.") To promote humility, doors to the cells had low openings so the prisoners would have to bow their heads when entering and leaving.
The jail was occupied until May 1985 when it was closed due to inhumane conditions brought on by serious overcrowding and a deteriorating facility. That same year the Warden's House on Pine Street was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and Sites.
[Photo captions read]
[front] Bucks County Prison, January 1967.
[back, top] A prison cell, November 1981.
[back, bottom] A guard and inmates in one of the prison's three corridors. May 1980.