July 7, 1932 -- mess hall building and north walls of coal bunker and old boiler room.

Physical Plant

The facility was built on a property that originally consisted of 600 acres purchased in 1932 from John Eidel, Ben Clark, the Kohan family and the Kessether family. An additional 150 acres of farmland, still referred to as "the Brown farm," was added in 1933.

The main entrance to Woodbourne then.
Much as today, the proposal to build a prison in the community met with some local opposition, although in the end the presence of a prison was generally accepted.

Construction was begun in 1932 by Babor Comeau, Inc. with the project overseen by architect Alfred Hopkins, who also designed Wallkill and Coxsackie Correctional Facilities. The original plant consisted of 12 interconnected buildings built of brick and concrete around two courtyards.

The design was said to be adapted from the plan of a Spanish monastery, but there is no documentation to that effect to be found.

Today, these buildings constitute the rear half of the administration building, A and B blocks and the building holding the A and B block recs, the mess hall, as the kitchen, the inner section of the hospital, the storeroom-rear platform complex, the state shoplaundry complex, E and F wings and the building housing those recs, and all the connecting corridors and passageways.

The main entrance to Woobourne now.

Over the years inmate labor working under staff supervision was used to construct barns, outbuildings, recreation fields, and most of the roads serving the institution. The purchase of a rock crusher in the early years of Woodboume provided an inexpensive source for the majority of the raw material.

A chicken coop and a piggery were built northeast of the prison proper to keep the population provided with most of its meat, and a dairy barn housed the herd that provided the milk.

A root cellar big enough to store the root crops grown on the farm was built soon after the opening of the facility, and as can be seen from a 1937 account, canning and winter storage were important in the routine of the institution and contributed greatly to its self-sufficiency.

The notes are written on the back of a postcard captioned "Medium Security Prison, Woodbourrie, N.Y." which pictures the prison from across the Neversink. On the back is the notation, "1937 ... The vegetables canned for winter use were 785 #10 cans tomatoes, 1075 beans, 732 beets, 108 lima beans, 240 pumpkin, 232 swiss chard, 35 50 gallon barrels pickles, 44 30 gallon barrels sauerkraut. The gardens were wonderful on the flats where they raised all the produce."

Inmates hauling rock crusher power cable under the supervision of Leo Kelly, ca. 1954.

The new powerhouse now stands on the site of the root cellar.

All of the canning was done in what is now the keep-lock recreation yard off the kitchen by C block. Over the years, so much tomato juice seeped down into the ground that it destroyed the lead shields on the high voltage lines supplying the facility. The lines literally blew up in 1977 leaving the facility running on generator power for several days.

The first superintendent, psychiatrist Dr. Vernon Branham, used the large stone house just by the turn for River Road from Route 52, currently a funeral home, as his residence. The superintendent's house on top of the hill was constructed in 1937-1938, and several staff houses were built at the foot of the hill.

These were the residences of the steward, the physician, the principal keeper as the deputy superintendent for security was called then - and the captain. The large cow barn was constructed in 1948-49 and the ball field in 1949.

The full length of the smokestack from the rear of the facility and its being dismantled.

In 1959 a thirteenth building, which today houses the welding, computer repair, and plumbing shops and the inmate library, was added at the south end of E and F wings; and the open area between the wings was roofed over, providing space for classrooms. The majority of the shops and school classrooms are located here today.

In 1963 C-block was added at the north end of the facility and in 1967 D-block was added on the west side.

Following a 1968 riot by NACC residents, the wall enclosing the small yard was rebuilt. The old wall was only 12'8" high with a 6' chain-link fence on its top. It was so weak that it was knocked down using a rubber tired back hoe It was replaced with the current poured concrete 24'6" wall.

In 1972 the new part of the administration building was constructed and the new gym, powerhouse, and hospital were added in 1974. When the new powerhouse was opened, the 185-foot high smokestack prominent in the graphic of the original facility was dismantled. Since 1974, there have been no major changes in the exterior of the institution; all the changes have been made by rearranging walls and interior spaces.

The most significant interior change occurred in July 1989 following a Thursday meeting in Albany between Superintendent Berry and Corrections Commissioner Coughlin. The Superintendent called the facility and told all the maintenance staff and all the Deputy Superintendents to stay until he arrived and had a chance to meet with them.

The auditorium before GY dorm and the dorm today.

When he arrived at Woodbourne at around 4:30 p.m., he told the assembled staff that the following Tuesday, we would be receiving the first inmates for a new double bunked dormitory to be created in the auditorium.

The auditorium at that time had one toilet and no showers and would need 15 toilets, showers, and sinks in place by Tuesday. The entire operation required extensive plumbing work to provide both water supply and drainage, but when the imnates arrived at 4:00 on Tuesday afternoon, much of the work was completed. There were 148 inmates housed in that dorm until the end of 1990, which brought the Woodbourrie population to its highest ever number of 1049 inmates.

In order to provide a recreation area for the GY dorm as it came to be called, the law library was moved to F-Wing and the former library area, which was the original inmate library when the facility was built, was made into a recreation area.

To accomplish this, it was necessary to cut through one of the facility's original walls, made from nearly four feet of Rosendale cement, a material that used to be the standard for all state construction contracts. It took three weeks of drilling and chipping to break a doorway sized opening through the hard-as-flint cement.

When Sullivan Correctional Facility opened in 1985, all of the farming operations and most of the properties became part of it. Today the Woodbourne grounds consist of 16 acres, with only the main buildings, ball field, and some of the farm buildings and fields considered part of the facility

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