After 9 years, the Old Newgate Prison in East Granby reopens

EAST GRANBY -- From the moment you step inside the mine at the Old Newgate Prison in East Granby, you're transformed back to the 18th century.

"You go under the guardhouse where they were stored in cells and then you can go in the mine," says the museum's assistant, Morgan Bengel.

Part of the history is in the copper mine. There are so many stories of prisoners trying to escape and not making it out, like this one:
Abel Starkey was trying to climb out of the well on a rope when he fell down the well and into 20 feet of water. He was found days later.
It's part of the mystery of the underground prison.

"So, what really happened? Did the guard cut the rope? Did the rope break?" says volunteer tour guide, Sharon Wolf. "And Abel is still down here. "

The stories at Old Newgate almost died nine years ago when the old guard house fell into disrepair.
When the building was fixed, there were no employees left to run the property, until now.

"What happened is they had to come to the realization with the state that it costs money when it's closed here," says State Representitive Tami Zawistowski. "It actually makes money when it's open. Before it closed it actually supported some of the other museums. There are 4 state museums and it actually generated positive cash flow."

The price of preserving history came up to $1.5 million, paid for by community investment accounts, which are set aside for project like this one.

"It's an experience like no other. You walk inside the walls and you are in history. You can feel it. You can see it. You're standing where the prisoners stood," says Bengel.

To see museum hours, click here.