“Hand-Crafted” at the Maine State Prison


I recently decided to continue a focus on “tabletop” composition which combines challenging elements such as varying wood tones with glass elements, and needed to borrow a small, wooden cutting board. So I asked the people I’m staying with if they had one (as the lady-of-the-house is an aspiring chef, and even more fortunate for me, is of Japanese descent with an affinity for bamboo!… but I digress.). I expected her to whip out an assortment for me to choose from and surely the ideal candidate would be there in the offerings. (Besides, I was much too lazy to travel to the storage unit to retrieve my own amongst countless boxes and tote-towers!)

But alas!

To my surprise; she had no bamboo cutting boards… no wooden cheese-boards or servers either.

She hands me a small cutting board of about 5-inches by 7-inches by 2.5 inches thick , remarking ” but it’s inscribed with words on one side… will that be a problem!?”

I thanked her, graciously… thankful to have SOMETHING to work with… and retreated to my little upstairs living-quarters/ miniscule studio-space with great anticipation.

I didn’t pay much attention to WHAT the inscription actually said until I got this shot (shown above). For me, the inscription actually “makes” the shot”… not that my subjects aren’t interesting enough… but I’m a curious sort and the fact that prisoners created this cutting block, fascinated me.


So, today… I did a little research into the history of the Maine State Prison and thought it interesting enough to share here. (I can’t be the ONLY one who’s curious, after-all!)

Turns out they make MUCH more than mere cutting boards there and sell their creations to the general public to help support the Prison financially… but if you want to buy something… there are restrictions listed here:  http://maine.gov/corrections/industries/page7.html.


This was my “something new learned today”.



On February 1, 1823, an act was passed by the Maine Legislature providing for the creation of a state prison. On February 10, 1823, a commission consisting of Dr. Daniel Rose of Boothbay, Benjamin Ames of Bath and Thomas Bond of Hallowell was appointed by the legislature to head the project. Dr. Rose was selected as the agent to supervise the construction of the Maine State Prison. The commission selected the town of Thomaston for its centralized location within the state and its accessibility by boat, making the transport of inmates convenient. The ten-acre tract, then known as Limestone Hill and owned by former Governor William King, was sold for $3000.00. For many years Revolutionary War Hero General Henry Knox had used this land as a working limestone quarry.

The Maine State Prison has had a working industrial program since its early days when inmates worked the quarry, constructed wooden wagons, buckboards, wheel barrows, sleighs, buggies and tack for horses. Inmates also grew produce on the prison farm. With the advent of the automobile, the industrial program migrated to constructing furniture and expanded this line in the late 1930’s to include crafts and novelty items.

The Maine State Prison in Thomaston, which was built in 1823, burned in 1923. The institution was rebuilt in 1924 and remained a maximum security facility until its closing in February 2002. The prison was demolished in April of the same year. The Prison Farm (Bolduc Correctional Facility) and the new Maine State Prison in Warren continue to carry on the tradition of farming and woodworking.

All wood products displayed in the Maine State Prison Showroom are handcrafted by the inmates working at one of our facilities. The industries program provides inmates with a means of learning valuable marketable job skills, work ethics and responsibility – all necessary tools for the transition into the workforce upon release.

Explore the wide range of cutting boards, bureaus, coffee tables, end tables, bookcases, jelly cupboards and stools, woodcarvings and wood burnings. You’ll also find a large selection of nautical items, including ship models, lamps, ship wheels and many other items representing Maine’s coastal heritage. Reasonable prices, quality manufacturing and a unique selection make the Maine State Prison Showroom a great place to shop.


About tilde531

Intimate, Boudoir and Lifestyle Photographer / Business owner/photographer for Love-N-Life Studio
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2 Responses to “Hand-Crafted” at the Maine State Prison

  1. Very interesting. Super photos, great story. Makes me want to order something. : )

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