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Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine {Old New-Gate}

National Historic Landmark
State Archaeological Preserve
{Old New-Gate Logo}

Promoting the history and natural history of Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine through exploration and discovery of the site as a copper mine, prison, and  tourist attraction

{Aerial View }

Copper Mine
(c. 1705-1750s)

Connecticut's First Prison


A National Historic Landmark and State Archaeological Preserve, Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine (1773) in East Granby, Connecticut is the oldest surviving state prison in the nation. The site consists of 45 acres of land, including the one-acre prison yard enclosed by a 12-foot tall masonry perimeter wall that encompasses the entrance to the underground copper mine, a rehabilitated two-story Guardhouse, and the standing ruins of four other buildings: a two-story Chapel, a two-story Nail Shop, a two-story Workshop, and a four-story Cell Block. The dank mine tunnels, menacing perimeter walls, and hulking prison ruins still convey an environment of confinement and awe.


{Guardhouse} Chartered in 1705, Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine is the site of the first operating copper mine in the North American Colonies. At the height of mine operation, as many as 20 men were employed in digging ore. Because smelting was prohibited in the colonies, by the time the mine owners paid for shipping of the ore across the Atlantic, a large percentage of the profits were gone. By 1772, only a handful of workers were employed at the site. In 1773, the colony of Connecticut acquired the copper mine property to be used as a workhouse and prison for convicted criminals. It was called “New-Gate” after London’s notorious prison. With the outbreak of the American Revolution, Tories joined the common criminals already incarcerated, including some sent directly by George Washington for secure keeping during the war.

The State of Connecticut abandoned {Cell Block } New-Gate Prison in 1827 because it was considered costly to run and inhumane. During its more than 50 years as a penitentiary, well over 800 prisoners had served time there, including four women. After later unsuccessful mining attempts during the 19th century, the property became a popular tourist destination during the early to mid-20th century, with the former Guardhouse becoming a popular dance hall, a World War I tank on display, as well as a zoo!

Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine was re-acquired by the State of Connecticut in 1968 and is administered and interpreted as a museum open to the public by the State Historic Preservation Office of the Department of Economic and Community Development. The 18th century copper mine and associated above-ground architectural ruins and historic landscape have been designated as a Connecticut State Archaeological Preserve. The structural ruins, evocative of so many significant themes of our nation’s history, are a unique cultural resource within the United States.

The museum was closed to the public from 2009 to 2017 for structural repairs. It was opened on a limited basis during the summer and fall of 2017, and hosted its grand re-opening on Saturday, July 14, 2018.

{Aerial View }

Across the street from the prison is Viets Tavern, the unrestored, mid-18th century home of first prison warden, Capt. John Viets and his wife Lois.

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115 Newgate Road, East Granby, CT 06026  ~  ~  860-653-3563