Thomaston was selected as the site for the Maine State Prison in 1823. The prison was completed in 1824 at which time the first 20 convicts arrived from Charlestown, MA via the Georges River in July 1824. Another 24 within the month joined them, the youngest being a 13 year-old boy with a one-month sentence.

The east wing on the left and the large warden’s brick house on the right were consumed by a devastating fire in 1923. In 1936, the state purchased a stately Greek Revival house opposite the prison for use of future wardens and their families.

The tree trunks have been coated with a lime wash, which was supposed to protect the bark from infection. A newspaper article dated 26 Mar 1862 questions the positive effects of treatments such as this:

 

Washes for Trees

Complaints are made here and there but certain washes for the bark of trees do more harm than good. One whose apple trees were mossy and hidebound and infected with insects used limewash. Another used soap, another tar, another a solution of potash but in nearly every case, with unsatisfactory results. The caustic lime kills the parasitic plants and the vermin which infect the bark but while a good part of it soon washes off, what remains becomes converted into carbonate of lime, which fills the pores of the inner bark and prevents its healthy expansion and growth. Common soapsuds is less hurtful than a solution of caustic potash or the tar. The safest and best wash known to us is simply a solution of common sal soda often called bleachers number one soda, dissolved in rain water at the rate of one pound of soda to a gallon of water and applied in spring and fall. It will not hurt the tree but will destroy mosses and other fungi and no eggs or cocoons of vermin can stand before it. It will work off the dead bark and leave a clean and healthy surface. But to insure the highest success from this application, the soil about the roots of the tree should be drained if it is wet and be manured.”

 

 

Margaret McCrea
Historian
Thomaston Historical Society

Catalog Number LB2007.1.102730