Lock ‘Em Up and Throw Away the Key

15 10 2011

Egyptianizing design was a popular theme for prisons during the early 1800s.  This c. 1900 postcard shows the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, completed in 1836 by John Haviland – a preeminent architect of that time.  The building at right blocks the view of the wings stretching out from the central building, with battered walls and cavetto cornice.  (You can see better images here.)  Although classified as Egyptian Revival, the building exhibits a common, and decades old, practice of blending historical accuracy with culturally unrelated design elements.  In any case, the application of this style lends an appropriate sense of cavernous impenetrability to the prison.

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