Touring the West Virginia Penitentiary
Group Tours at the former WV Penitentiary are 90-minutes of history, education, fun and interaction with your tour guide about cold, hard facts. For instance, some inmates spent 22 out of 24 hours in their cells. Old Sparky was built by an inmate, and much more … This is an experience like no other! The gothic-style structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was also listed as on one of the top 500 places to visit in “USA Today.” Also in 2005, the former WV Penitentiary was listed with “Travelocity” as one of the LOCAL SECRETS, BIG FINDS from more than 30,000 entries as a top insider spot in the United States.
Please note that our day tours focus on life behind bars. We discuss facts regarding the day to day life of inmates and correctional officers, reasons behind incarceration, and the history of the prison itself. Some information and topics of discussion may not be suitable for young children.
School groups, senior organizations, clubs, or unique family reunion activities, will walk down the long, eerie hallway and see (maybe even enter) a 5 x 7 cell that was once occupied by an inmate. You also will view an array of artwork done by inmates. After your 90-minute guided tour, please take time to enjoy our museum. The museum houses a variety of contraband on display, a copy of the letter from Charles Manson requesting transfer to the former WV Penitentiary, pictures of executed inmates, and last but definitely not least, “OLD SPARKY.” The electric chair that was made by an inmate to execute inmates. It will be an experience that you will talk about all the way home!
During the month of April, school groups are encouraged to take advantage of our “Buy 1, Get 1” deal. You must schedule your visit through our office and you must have at least 20 people to qualify for this rate. Teachers are more than welcome to take advantage of our Lesson Plan designed by a teacher specifically for you!