141 S. Jackson St., Jackson, MI 49201 :: 517.764.4440
Experience Jackson

The Original Jackson Historic Prison Tour

DO TIME AT MICHIGAN’S FIRST STATE PRISON

Do time at Michigan's First State Prison, once the largest in the world. Begin downtown at the historic Michigan Theatre where, through an interactive program, live presenters share fascinating prison history from horrid punishments to hilarious amusements, riots to reforms. Then, visit the old prison and experience more tales about colorful characters, crimes, and corruption, while walking through halls echoing with the sound of thousands of inmates past. Tour includes lunch.

BEGIN

Begin the Jackson Historic Prison Tour in downtown Jackson at the historic Michigan Theatre with Jacktown: The History of Michigan's First State Prison. See and hear utterly fascinating history in this interactive program with storytelling by live tour guides, film clips, archival photos, and audience participation. Experience intriguing tales of prison life, crime, corruption, colorful inmates, wardens, night-keepers, and reforms. Witness what solitary confinement held in store for those who disobeyed and the types of punishments meted out to others. Glimpse into the past mini-city of factories and farms that the prison became as it grew into the largest walled prison on the planet and turned Jackson into one of the leading industrial cities in the nation by providing cheap labor in our factories during the Industrial Revolution.

LUNCH

Board the bus to a locally owned and run Jackson restaurant. As you fill up on soup, salad, sandwiches, hot and cold drinks, and dessert, your friendly, knowledgeable, tour guides entertain you with tales of Prohibition, famous/infamous inmates who have inhabited the Jackson Prison, including Detroit’s Purple Gang and Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a one and only helicopter escape, plus more!

MICHIGAN’S FIRST STATE PRISON

Visit the Old Prison, now Armory Arts Village, a resident artists’ community, for a tour “From Historic Prison to Artistic Vision.” Experience more tales of this intriguing prison history while visiting the old solitary area, viewing murals depicting the unique prison history and painted by two resident muralists. Enter the brick, mortar, and stone Grand Gallery with its windows still lined by prison bars and built entirely by prison labor. Meet an artist in a studio formerly a cellblock, and see an apartment, once 36 cells. You will definitely hear the echoes of thousands of inmates past. When done, browse in the Grand Gallery to purchase souvenirs of your prison tour and arts, crafts, and jewelry from the resident artists.

THE FIRST DEGREE is the full tour described above. It lasts approximately 4-5 hours with lunch. Jackson Journeys is flexible and can work time-wise with your schedule.

THE SECOND DEGREE is a tour for those with time constrictions. Groups can tour through Michigan’s First State Prison only. This tour does not include lunch. It lasts approximately 2.5 hours.

PUBLIC TOURS

Tours for the Public: By Appointment Mon. - Sat. Call 517-817-8960 or email jacksonjourneysllc@comcast.net.

COMBINATION TOURS

Jackson Journeys LLC is happy to arrange an itinerary for you both in Jackson and en route to and from Jackson. Jackson Journeys offers combination tours such as:

FROM PRISON TO PARADISE

After the Prison tour, you drive ten-minutes to a Jackson gem -- St. Demetrius Orthodox Church, with its utterly exquisite iconography, wood carving, delightful tour by Father Dusan, topped with “divine” homemade Baklava and coffee. This makes a perfect “all-day” journey to Jackson.

YOU MAY ALSO STAY OVERNIGHT

After this full- day tour, go to your hotel, eat dinner at a local Jackson Restaurant, and let your dessert be a concert of your choice at the Jackson Symphony Orchestra Hall, where you can choose from 12 small musical ensembles including Jazz, Chamber Music, Country-Western, Eastern European (Klezmer), and several more.

THE NEXT DAY JACKSON JOURNEYS WILL BOOK OTHER VENUES IN JACKSON, such as a tour of Michigan International Speedway, Dahlem Nature Conservancy, Ye Ole Carriage Shop, Sparks Park & The Cascades musical waterfalls, and more. As you travel onward – east, west, south or north, Jackson Journeys can arrange your itinerary.

The Original Jackson Historic Prison Tours

(517) 817-8960
Website | Facebook
100 Armory Court
Jackson, MI 49202

The Original Jackson Historic Prison Tours On the Original Jackson Historic Prison tour, enjoy lively, interactive stories of inmates past and present, prison lore and more. Walk inside the massive walls as bygone prisoners, guards, and... » More Information

Contact
Judy Gail Krasnow
Hours

RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR ALL TOURS.

Call 517-817-8960 or email to make a reservation and inquiry about combination tours.

The Original Jackson Historic Prison Tours

On the Original Jackson Historic Prison tour, enjoy lively, interactive stories of inmates past and present, prison lore and more. Walk inside the massive walls as bygone prisoners, guards, and wardens come alive with tales of corruption, mayhem, punishments and relief.

THE FIRST DEGREE is the full tour. It lasts approximately 4-5 hours with lunch. Jackson Journeys is flexible and can work time-wise with your schedule.

THE SECOND DEGREE is a tour for those with time constrictions. Groups can tour through Michigan’s First State Prison only. This tour does not include lunch. It lasts approximately 2.5 hours.

COMBINATION TOURS

Jackson Journeys LLC is happy to arrange an itinerary for you both in Jackson and en route to and from Jackson. Jackson Journeys offers combination tours such as:

FROM PRISON TO PARADISE

After the Prison tour, you drive ten-minutes to a Jackson gem -- St. Demetrius Orthodox Church, with its utterly exquisite iconography, wood carving, delightful tour by Father Dusan, topped with “divine” homemade Baklava and coffee. This makes a perfect “all-day” journey to Jackson.

YOU MAY ALSO STAY OVERNIGHT

After this full- day tour, go to your hotel, eat dinner at a local Jackson Restaurant, and let your dessert be a concert of your choice at the Jackson Symphony Orchestra Hall, where you can choose from 12 small musical ensembles including Jazz, Chamber Music, Country-Western, Eastern European (Klezmer), and several more.

THE NEXT DAY JACKSON JOURNEYS WILL BOOK OTHER VENUES IN JACKSON, such as a tour of Michigan International Speedway, Dahlem Nature Conservancy, Ye Ole Carriage Shop, Sparks Park & The Cascades musical waterfalls, and more. As you travel onward – east, west, south or north, Jackson Journeys can arrange your itinerary.

RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR ALL TOURS. Check out HistoricPrisonTours.com for further information about price, menu, FAQ’s and to read the outstanding testimonials about the tour, created by founder/director Judy Gail Krasnow and her company, Jackson Journeys LLC.

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Michigan Theatre

(517) 783-0962
Website | Facebook
124 N. Mechanic St.
Jackson, MI 49201

Michigan Theatre The Michigan Theatre was the last and largest theater to be built in downtown Jackson, opening in 1930. Now a nonprofit organization, the Michigan Theatre of Jackson Inc., is working to... » More Information

Hours

Group tours of the Michigan Theatre are available by appointment please email Steve Tucker to schedule a tour. 

Meeting Facility Features
  • On-site Catering Available
  • AV Equipment Available
  • Air Conditioned
  • Alcohol License Available
  • Alcohol Permitted
  • Alcohol or Bar Tending Services Available On-Site
  • WiFi Available
  • Internet Available
  • Multiple Rooms or Facilities
Event Capacity
  • 1400
Michigan Theatre

The Michigan Theatre was the last and largest theater to be built in downtown Jackson, opening in 1930. Now a nonprofit organization, the Michigan Theatre of Jackson Inc., is working to restore the theater to its original luster. It was originally built in Spanish Renaissance style with an ornate polychrome terra cotta façade, carved walnut furniture, plush carpeting, heavy damask draperies, and stained-glass light fixtures. The Michigan Theatre is considered one of the most splendid theaters in the state. Their mission is to provide today's entertainment in an incredible historic venue. Events include kids movies, classic films, live theater and concerts.

The Michigan Theatre is the first stop for on The Original Jackson Historic Prison Tours offered by Jackson Journey's. 

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Armory Arts Village & Michigan’s First State Prison

(517) 784-2220
| Facebook
100 Armory Court
Jackson, MI 49201

Armory Arts Village & Michigan’s First State Prison The Armory Arts Village is a one-of-a-kind, creatively focused, mixed use neighborhood.  An affordable space designed to meet both the living & workspace needs of emerging artists, musicians, designers,... » More Information

Hours

Office Hours:
Monday - Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Saturdays and additional times by appointment only.

Armory Arts Village & Michigan’s First State Prison

The Armory Arts Village is a one-of-a-kind, creatively focused, mixed use neighborhood.  An affordable space designed to meet both the living & workspace needs of emerging artists, musicians, designers, craftsmen, and other creative people. Armory Arts Village is listed on MSN in the top ten most unique buildings worldwide in which to live. The building is a private residence, an artist community and a nationally recognized historic site. 

This was the original site of Michigan's First State Prison, approved by the legislature in 1838. A temporary wooden prison, enclosed by a fence of tamarack poles, was built on sixty acres donated for that purpose here. In 1839 the first 35 prisoners were received. A permanent prison was built three years later. Beginning in the 1880's under Warden H. F. Hatch a greater emphasis was placed on the education and rehabilitation of prisoners. After 1934 the inmates were housed in the new prison north of Jackson. During the Industrial Revolution, Michigan's First State Prison was important to the development of Jackson by providing cheap labor in our factories. At its height, the enclosed area of the old prison was about 20 acres and there were over 2,000 inmates, making it the World's Largest Walled Prison in it's heyday.

Nearby restaurants include Shlenker's Sandwich Shop, Chilango's Mexican Grill and Anna's Gifts & Porch Cafe.

Jackson's Historic Prison Tour now begins at Michigan Theatre. Click here to learn more.

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