Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine, East Granby

Overview

Investigate the history and natural history of this underground copper mine and ruins of the oldest surviving state prison in America. Chartered in 1705, the copper mine was the first in the North American colonies and operated for nearly 70 years. The colony of Connecticut purchased the mine in 1773 to create a workhouse and prison for convicted criminals that operated for over 50 years. The site later became a privately owned tourist attraction with a popular dance hall, a World War I tank and even a zoo. Today, the dank mine tunnels, menacing perimeter walls and hulking prison ruins still convey an environment of confinement and awe. 


Historical Significance

The museum’s 45-acre hillside site with breathtaking views includes the two-acre prison yard enclosed by a 12 foot-tall masonry perimeter wall. Inside the wall is the entrance to the underground copper mine and the prison yard, with its renovated two-story Guardhouse and the standing ruins of four other prison buildings. Named after the famous prison in London, Connecticut’s New-Gate Prison held more than 800 prisoners over the years, including four women and Tory prisoners sent by George Washington during the American Revolution. Located across the street from the prison, Viets Tavern (currently closed) is the unrestored, mid-1700s home of first prison warden Capt. John Viets and his wife Lois.

 

The State of Connecticut re-acquired the site in 1968, opening it to the public as a history museum. It is now a National Historic Landmark and State Archaeological Preserve.

 

You can explore these features on the site:

  • Mine Tunnels — Descend the long staircase in the prison yard to explore the damp, perpetually 55-degree underground tunnels of the copper mine that later held prisoners. Your visit will take you 75 feet below the ground! Please note that appropriate footwear must be worn in the mine. At present time, the mine is not handicapped accessible. Take a virtual tour of the copper mine.
  • Prison Yard:
    • Guardhouse — Learn about the history of this renovated two-story brick building from the prison era to its later dance hall days.
    • Prison Ruins — Explore the masonry ruins of the two-story Chapel, two-story Nail Shop, two-story Workshop and four-story Cell Block.
  • Gift Shop — Browse a wide selection of gifts and souvenirs for adults and children.

Events

2019


September 7th (Saturday) 10:00-4:30
Bat Appreciation Day
Learn about New-Gate’s beloved bats as we team up with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to promote bat conservation. Engage with wildlife biologists and learn about how cool bats really are, and how you can help support these important and amazing creatures. Demonstrations and hand-on activities for all ages.

 

September 15th (Sunday) 10:00-4:30

State Museum Sunday

Free admission for Connecticut residents at any of the four State Museums on the third Sunday of the month.

September 15th (Sunday) 5:00-7:00 pm
The Jolly Beggars Concert
Bring your picnic dinner and a lawn chair to enjoy the traditional Celtic folk music of The Jolly Beggars. Back by popular demand. After-hours event with separate admission cost.

 

September 21st (Saturday) 10:00-4:30
Escape from Newgate (Reenactment)
Step into history and experience New-Gate prison come alive. Reenactors from the Fifth Connecticut Regiment will be recreating what prison life looked like at New-Gate. Join us for this exciting weekend, and make sure to watch out for escaping prisoners!

 

October 12th and 19th (Saturdays) 6:00-9:00 pm

Halloween at Old New-Gate
Get ready for a historically haunted Halloween! Celebrate the season with a beer tasting, live music, and see what lurks beneath the surface in our copper mine...
After-hours event with separate admission cost. Pre-sale tickets available on Eventbrite!
Content Note: this event will include representations of historic imprisonment and punishment and may not be suitable for all audiences. A family-friendly event will be co-hosted with the East Granby Parks and Rec (Date TBD).


October 20th (Sunday) 10:00-4:30
State Museum Sunday
Free admission for Connecticut residents at any of the four State Museums on the third Sunday of the month.

 

Address

115 Newgate Road
East Granby, CT 06026

Free parking

Mailing address: P.O. Box 230, East Granby, CT 06026

Hours

Please note that hours are subject to change at Old New-Gate Prison due to weather and safety concerns.  Please visit our Facebook page for updated information, or call the museum at (860) 653-3563.

May-October:
Thursday-Monday, 10am - 4:30pm (last tickets sold at 4pm) 

Admission

  • Adults: $8
  • Seniors (60 and older): $6
  • Youth (6-17) / Students: $5
  • Child (5 and under): Free
  • Groups: $6 per person (for 10 or more people by appointment)
  • School/Youth Groups: $2 per person (by appointment)

As a Blue Star Museum, we offer free admission to active-duty military personnel and their families.

Plan Your Visit

Learn more about the museum and the surrounding area at CTvisit.com.

Contact

Morgan Bengel, Museum Assistant

newgate.museum@ct.gov, 860-653-3563

Related Resources

Follow the museum on Facebook

Take an aerial tour of Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine

Take a virtual tour of the copper mine

Become a Volunteer

Schedule photography, filming, or other special events at the museum

Old New-Gate Prisoner List

Transcript of 1800 Connecticut Courant escape attempt article

Transcript of 1801 escape attempt report by prison keeper Thomas Shelden

Transcript of 1815 Connecticut Courant editorial

Transcript of 1819 Connecticut Courant reward notice for escaped convicts