Sign Up For News And Updates

Your Name and E-mail
First Name:
Last Name:
E-mail Address:
Sign up for the following:

Your Address and Mobile
Mobile Phone:


W.Va. Pen, biennial report, 1916 (pt. 2)




Extending north and south from the main central corridor are located the two large cell halls. These halls are known as the North and South halls. The North hall contains 416 cells and the South hall 424. In addition to these the female ward contains 36 cells, making a total of 876 cells in the institution. These cells are arranged in tiers, one above another, there being four tiers of cells in each hall. The cells are of modern steel construction, each being supplied with running water, automatic closet, electric light and steel spring bunk, and are well lighted and well ventilated. The halls are so arranged that the sun shines in practically every cell at some time during the day. The cells are two sizes. The older ones, numbering 368, are 7 ft. x 7 ft. x 5 ft. and contain 245 cu. ft. The new cells are 8 ft. x 7 ft. x 5 ft. and contain 280 cu. ft. All the cells are kept thoroughly renovated and painted and the walls and the cell halls are regularly cleaned and whitewashed, being at this time in excellent condition.

Dining Hall and Kitchen.

The dining hall and kitchen occupy the entire first floor of the large pressed brick building, 78 x 140 ft., the second floor of this building being used for chapel services and library purposes. The space is ample and both rooms are well lighted and well ventilated. The dining hall is large enough to accommodate our present population in a comfortable manner. However, the floor in the dining room will have to be replaced in the near future and the kitchen should be equipped with a better working outfit.

A complete fan system is in use in the dining room, adding much to the comfort during the summer season.


The bakery is located near the north end of the dining room, but in a separate building. It is very well equipped and has ample capacity for the present needs of the institution. All the bread and pastry consumed by the prisoners is furnished by this department and it is operated entirely by the prisoners. During this biennial period an additional oven has been built, thus equipping the bakery with two first class ovens.

Store Room.

The supplies for the institution are principally kept in the basement of the Administration building. The room is ample for the storage of ordinary groceries and supplies of various kinds purchased in the markets.


The laundry is located in the basement under the kitchen and dining room. It is well equipped, and during this biennial period one of the latest improved standard ironers has been installed, at a cost of $1,241.25, and a new dry house has also been built. All the work in the laundry is done by the inmates and clean bed clothing and clean clothing are furnished each prisoner once each week.

Just adjoining the laundry is the large shower bath room, which is well equipped and in good condition, where each inmate is required to bathe once each week.

Power Plant.

The present power plant consists of three boilers, two of which are new, and one modern Corliss engine of 175 h. p. capacity. During this biennial period we have had two new gas engines installed, each with 100 h. p. capacity, and each directly connected to a 60 k. w. generator. Light, head and power are produced and furnished for the entire institution and light and power is also sold to all the contractors operating within the prison walls. With the above equipment we are always ready for emergencies.

The large Corliss engine, which is run by steam, is operated during the winter months in order that we may utilize the exhaust for heating purposes. This engine is ample to furnish the light, heat and power for the entire institution, but during the summer months it is shut down and the two gas engines are in operation, which are also sufficient to furnish light, heat and power for the entire institution, and at a great saving to the state.

Water Supply.

The water supply for the institution is obtained from deep wells drilled within the prison walls and also from the Mound City Water Company. The supply from the water wells was not sufficient to entirely meet the needs of the institution, so it was necessary to get connection with the City Water Company, and we are now adequately supplied with good, pure water.


Natural gas is the fuel used for cooking and heating purposes in the offices, warden's apartments, hospital and state shop.

For generating electricity for the power plant and for heating the cell halls and shop buildings, coal is used at a considerably cheaper price. The installing of the two new gas engines previously mentioned has been a great saving in the cost of fuel.


There are four factory buildings within the prison walls where the inmates are constantly employed in manufacturing the different articles heretofore mentioned. These shops are well built brick buildings, well lighted and well ventilated, heated by steam and lighted by electricity, two being three stories in height and two are two stories. Numerous repairs and improvements have been made in these factories during this biennial period, the most important one being the erection of two separate brick closet rooms, one three and the other two stories high, with a complete system of toilets installed on every floor. Sanitary drinking fountains have also been installed in all of the factory buildings, and these improvements have added very much to the sanitary conditions of the institution.


The new hospital which is intended for patients afflicted with tuberculosis only, has just been completed and is now being used as a general hospital. It will be necessary to use it for all classes of cases until the old hospital receives the improvements contemplated.

The Tubercular Hospital is one of the most needed improvements that has been added to this institution during this biennial period, and no time or expense has been spared in the construction of this building. The space devoted to this hospital is the second floor of one of the main buildings 150 ft. long by 40 ft. wide, within the prison yard and formerly occupied by the National Bed Company. The interior is so arranged as to have 14 private rooms 10 x 15 ft., two bath rooms with toilet and wash basins (one for colored and one for white patients) each containing clothes press, large sun parlor 32 x 40 ft., a long corridor 90 x 8 ft. (extending from the parlor to the dining room) a dining room 38 x 14 ft., kitchen 38 x 12 ft. and a general toilet room exclusive of the bath rooms. The floor is of a modern sanitary composition and the walls are plastered and painted; in fact, everything possible has been done to make the sanitary features of this building perfect. The corridor leading from the main corridor to the bath rooms and toilet is fitted up with two wash basins with hot and cold water, the same as in the bath rooms. The building is thoroughly lighted by electricity.

As in all buildings designed for the treatment of tuberculosis, the question of fresh air and sunlight has been given most careful consideration. Each private room has a window 3 ft. 2 in. x 7 ft. 6 in. with a large transom over the door. The large sun parlor contains 8 large windows 6 ft. x 7 ft. 6 in., and one small window 3 ft. 2 in. x 7 ft. 6 in. All windows are fitted with modern adjustable ventilating sash. The building is so situated in the prison yard that the large sun parlor gets the full benefit of the sun from sunrise to sunset. The system of steam heat is used throughout the building.

Plans are being made and work will soon start remodeling the old hospital, which will convert it into a thoroughly modern building or the treatment of the general classes of medical and surgical cases.

Incinerating Plant.

During this biennial period an incinerating plant has been installed within the walls of this institution, which enables us to burn all the rubbish that accumulates, thereby improving the sanitary conditions to a very great extent.

State Shop.

The clothing for the inmates of the institution is manufactured in the building known as the State Shop. All the clothing worn by the prisoners is manufactured within the prison, with the exception of socks and shoes. These articles can be purchased in the market more cheaply than such articles can be manufactured in the small quantities required by one institution. All other clothing used by inmates of the institution, also sheets and pillow cases, are manufactured here. Discharge suits, however, are purchased in the market on the outside. This shop is equipped with power sewing machines, electric irons and a modern shoe machine, and has ample capacity for the needs of the institution.

Printing Shop.

In the same building occupied by the state shop, a small printing plant is maintained and operated by an inmate. Practically all the printing for the institution is done at this plant.

Carpenter and Blacksmith Shop.

These shops are located near the wagon gate, the blacksmith shop on the first floor and the carpenter shop on the second floor of the building constructed for that purpose. These shops are well equipped with tools and machines and are large enough for the amount of different character of work needed at the institution.

Plumbing and Machine Shop.

The plumbing and machine shop is located under the dining room and is well equipped, being under the supervision of the chief engineer, Mr. V. G. Echols.


For the purpose of supplying and preserving the flowers used on the lawns, both on the outside and inside of the walls, as well as on the mound, a green house is maintained Early plants for the garden are also started here, which is a distinct advantage in enabling us to grow early vegetables. This department is also conducted by the inmates, who take real pleasure in doing this kind of work.

Farm and Garden.

The State owns, in connection with the penitentiary, about 212 acres of farm land. One hundred acres of this land is hillside and unsuited for farming purposes, but is excellent pasture land, affording splendid pasture for the dairy herd and other stock at the institution. The remainder is excellent bottom land, well suited for farming and gardening purposes. This portion is kept in a high state of cultivation, and large quantities of vegetables are raised for consumption by the inmates of the institution, which are conducive to their health and contentment.

A new eight room farm house has been built during this biennial period, at a cost of $3,400.00. This is modern in every respect, being equipped with gas, hot and cold water, bath, large porches and a finished basement under the entire building.

We also have in connection with our prison farm, the following live stock:

Young Cattle2
Old Chickens400
Young Chickens800

In order to show the amount of vegetables, etc. received at this institution from the prison farm during this biennial period, I herewith submit the following report:

Beef2,068 lbs.@$0.1143$236.37
Beans, Green2,078 bu.@.601,246.80
Beets1,470 bu.@.6082.00
Cabbage368,800 lbs.@.0051,844.00
Celery40 bunches@.104.00
Corn, green12,020 oz.@.10 1,202.00
Cucumbers1,790 doz.@.10179.00
Carrots12 bu.@.759.00
Eggs4,406 doz.@.301,321.80
Horseradish300 lbs.@.0515.00
Kale6,965 lbs.@.0169.65
Lettuce10,790 lbs.@.04431.60
Milk15,380 gal.@.25 3,845.00
Onions16,017 doz.@.05800.85
Onions277 bu.@1.00277.00
Potatoes1,217 bu.@.75912.75
Pork86,898 lbs.@.097,820.82
Pumpkin16,915 lbs.@.01169.15
Rhubarb2,997 doz.@.05149.85
Radishes2,000 doz.@.08160.00
Rutabaga52 bu.@.4020.80
Tomatoes4,102 bu.@.502,051.00
Turnips895 bu.@.50447.50

In addition to the foregoing, we have raised a sufficient quantity of alfalfa and corn to supply our needs for this entire biennial period, and have also been able to fill two large silos with ensilage each year, sufficient to winter all our stock.


The State of West Virginia by legislative appropriation secured possession of the famous Grave Creek Mound in 1901, and until the beginning of this biennial period this wonderful landmark of our state has been an object of ruin and decay; but in the past two years, with the co-operation of the Governor and State Board of Control, this relic of bygone centuries has been restored to its original shape, cleaned off and beautified with flowers, shrubbery and trees, and is now one of the most beautiful spots in West Virginia.


If we are to continue under the present laws during the next biennial period, no legislative appropriations will be required for the support of this institution, but if the laws should be changed, or if for any other reason we are unable to continue our present system, there would be needed approximately $150,000.00 per year for current expenses and $20,000.00 per year for repairs and improvements.

The numerous repairs and permanent improvements that have been made during this biennial period have put the buildings at this institution in first class condition. However, I would recommend that a new building be erected on the prison farm, located about a mile from this institution, for use of the Female Department. The building vacated by the female prisoners could be used to a very good advantage for other purposes, and I think it would be an advantage to the female prisoners, as well as to the institution, to have this department without the prison walls.


There is no more difficult task than the management of a great penal institution. I have become deeply interested in the work and know that some good has been accomplished during my administration, and it is also a great satisfaction to know that my administration of this office has met with the approval of all my superior officers, and that it has been satisfactory to the inmates of this institution.

from Fourth Biennial Report of the State Board of Control of West Virginia for the period July 1, 1914 to June 30, 1916. Charleston, State of West Virginia, 1916. The report on the W. Va. Penitentiary is in v.1, p.235-274.


Service provided by the staff of the Ohio County Public Library in partnership with and partially funded by Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation.

Services and Locations