Begin the tour in downtown Jackson at the Michigan Theatre with a brief tour of this historic site. Then see and hear the fascinating history of Michigan’s First State Prison (1839-1934). Mixing film with live presentations by tour guides, you’ll experience intriguing tales of prison life, colorful inmates, wardens, night-keepers, punishments, and reforms. You will see solitary cells and underground tunnels as the old prison comes to life. Journey into the present to what the former prison has become Armory Arts Village. On screen, visit an artist in his studio, once a cellblock and see an apartment carved out of 36 cells.
Next, board the bus to 7-Block (1934-2007), a fully intact, closed cellblock at the Jackson State Correctional Facilities. Here, Robert DeNiro filmed the movie “Stone.” Experience the “cage,” or holding area. Then walk down the ramp that took prisoners from the real world to the one behind bars. Eat a catered lunch at tables where thousands of inmates have downed their prison chow. Step inside a cell. Walk the five tiers of galleries. Go onto the prison yard. Hear of famous/infamous convicts, officers, riots, reforms, and a one-and-only helicopter escape.
After “doing time,” board the bus to ART 634 on the site of the First State Prison. Once the famous Jackson Wagon Company, where inmates provided cheap labor, today ART 634 hosts The Old Prison Gift Shop and Gallery. Browse and buy souvenirs here.