Location: Joliet, Illinois
Built in1858, the Joliet Correctional Center features a Castellated Gothic style and was designed by Chicago architect W.W. Boyington, who also happened to design the Chicago Water Tower. The use of Joliet limestone was a trademark of all Boyington’s designs and this locally quarried stone was used to erect structures all around the country.
History of the Prison
During the Civil War both criminals and prisoners of war were confined at the prison and by 1878, it was well over capacity with nearly 2,000 inmates. Reports of unsanitary and dangerous conditions emerged and by 1905, calls for the closure of the “old prison” were made. The 1926 construction of Stateville Penitentiary in what is now Crest Hill was intended to close the prison, but Joliet continued to house offenders until 2002, when it was finally closed by Governor George Ryan as a budgetary measure.
As Seen on TV
The Prison is probably best known today for its appearance in the 1980 film “The Blues Brothers” pictured above. Since then, the Prison has made a number of appearances in films and television, including the critically acclaimed Fox series “Prison Break,” the movie Let's Go to Prison and recently in the HBO series, Empire.
This is area is housed in a separate one story building at the center of the prison compound. Pictured above is the top floor, where a large rusted grate in the center of the room looks down to the floor below. A mural can also be seen painted on the top of the far wall, albeit it's too degraded to tell what it's depicting.
This was a huge open room with not much in it other than a few tables, but the Graffiti was very impressive and brought a lot of life to an otherwise dull space.
East Cell Block
This was by far my favorite area of the prison to photograph. The peeling paint, rusted metal and standing water offered a lot of cool textures and color to shoot.
West Cell Block
On April 22, 1975 more than 200 convicts seized control of the west cell block and took 12 hostages. A convict was slashed to death and eight members of the prison staff were injured before the rebellion ended more than five hours later. This cell block was also home to cell #415, which was the cell inhabited by Jake Blues in the movie The Blues Brothers.
Built in 1895, this is one of the oldest standing buildings in the prison yard. It had everything from X-ray machines to operating rooms so most medical procedures could be done onsite.
The chapel features a midcentury modern design and is located at the west side of the prison yard. A broken stained glass window sits above a roughly hewed altar and provides some of the only light in the room. Walking in I noticed there was some minor light rays coming in through the window due to dust particles in the air, so I decided to enhance the effect with some atmosphere aerosol. (The product I used is linked below in the gear section.)
Gear Used for the Shoot
Camera: Sony A7SII
Camera Bag: Lowepro ProTactic 350 AW II
Misc: Atmosphere Aerosol
Book Your Own Tour
In 2018 the Joliet Correctional Center opened up for tours. Check in is located at the main parking lot off Collins Street at: 1125 Collins Street, Joliet, IL 60432.
More information about dates, times and scheduling a tour can be found here: https://www.jolietmuseum.org/schedule-tour
Checkout My Additional Photos from the Shoot
My full gallery of 62 photos can be viewed on Flickr here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmXgaJom