Freeport + Mid-Coast
Maine State Prison Showroom
Thomaston, ME, 04861, United States
Until 2002, when it moved inland, Maine’s largest and oldest prison (where in the 1800s inmates were fed the cheapest eats around: lobster) sat just a quarter of a mile from busy, tourist-filled Route 1. Renowned for their woodworking skills, inmates once created and sold elaborate sleighs and horse-drawn carriages for area gentry—and today, the store (manned by real life prison guards), is still crammed with all manner of wood crafts. Although the offerings are mixed, among the kitschy ship lamps, walleyed rocking horses, and cutting boards reminiscent of seventh-grade woodshop are sturdy Adirondack chairs, wonderful children’s table-and-chair sets, and other well-made utilitarian items for the home and garden. The earnestness of the work shines through, and the prices can’t be beat. The ultimate souvenir: a T-shirt that reads "Stolen from the Maine State Prison."
All proceeds from the woodworking program enable participating prisoners to pay victim restitution and child support.