October 11, 2015
Our first guest blog post is from Dawn Lewis:
I first visited OSR in August 2015. It was a spur of the moment trip on a Friday. I had read a little about OSR but did not know much of the history on my first visit. Since it was a Friday a lot of the admin areas & warden's area were not open. I was unaware at the time how much I missed. I spent a few hours wondering around the cell blocks and solitary. I was mesmerized by this place....I came home and was checking out the website and saw the top things to see and a few of them I had not saw on my trip. I should also mention that my camera died about 15 minutes after I arrived & was fully charged before I got there! I thought to myself, I'll go back next year and see it all on a Sunday. That didn't work out so well! After reading up on OSR and reading The Haunted History of OSR I knew I couldn't wait to get back. Two weeks later on the last day of the season I was back at OSR bright and early. I was surprised at all the cars in the parking lot with license plates that were out of state. I took the Behind the Scenes tour and the West Tower tour. The Behind the Scenes was so interesting and informative. We got a lot of info that would never be found in any book, our guide's knowledge was astonishing. It was neat to see the basement and attic as well. We also had a volunteer talk with us that was a former inmate. His story made me tear up but I am glad it worked out for him in the end. Behind the Scenes was a glimpse into the innerworkings of the OSR. I immediately went into the other tour which was great as well. After that I walked around the cell blocks a bit more and hung out in solitary for a bit. I thought I had saw most of the place at this point. I went up near the gift shop and saw people at the top of some stairs. I decided to follow them up to where ever it was they were going. I ended up in the warden's quarters. There was a guide up there talking with everyone as they passed by. She had some really interesting stories. I followed the signs and ended up in the top floor of the cell block. I had been wanting to go up there so bad but all the stairs were blocked off. The tour route up there and around some of the levels really gives more of a picture of what it was like living there back then. I think this adds a lot to the tour to be able to go up on the other levels. I followed the rest of the tour route and took a million pictures. There is so much to see and learn there it's amazing. The building itself is just beautiful from the outside and it's hard to imagine the horrific things that went on inside in the later days when it was a maximum security prison. I came home that day with so much more knowledge as well as wonder about OSR. It's one of those things you have to see to believe. I can only hope that one day I will have the opportunity to volunteer at OSR!!