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The First Degree Tour

Do Time” at Michigan’s First State Prison, once the largest in the world. Begin downtown at the historic Michigan Theatre where, through an interactive program, live presenters share fascinating prison history from horrid punishments to hilarious amusements, riots to reforms. Then, visit the old prison and experience more tales about colorful characters, crimes, and corruption, while walking through halls echoing with the sound of thousands of inmates past. Tour Includes lunch.

BEGIN: the Jackson Historic Prison Tour in downtown Jackson at the historic Michigan Theatre with “Jacktown: The History of Michigan’s First State Prison.” See and hear utterly fascinating history in this interactive program with storytelling by live tour guides, film clips, archival photos, and audience participation. Experience intriguing tale of prison life, crime, corruption, colorful inmates, wardens, hpt mich theatrenight-keepers, and reforms. Witness what solitary confinement held in store for those who disobeyed and the types of punishments meted out to others. Glimpse into the past mini-city of factories and farms that the prison became as it grew into the largest walled prison on the planet and turned Jackson into one of the leading industrial cities in the nation.

NEXT: LUNCH — Board the bus to a locally owned and run Jackson restaurant. As you fill up on soup, salad, sandwiches, hot and cold drinks, and dessert, your friendly, knowledgeable, tour guides entertain you with tales of Prohibition, famous/infamous inmates who have inhabited the Jackson Prison, including Detroit’s Purple Gang and Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a one and only helicopter escape, plus more!

DO TIME at MICHIGAN’S FIRST STATE PRISON: Visit the Old Prison, now Armory Arts Village, a resident artists’ hpt armorycommunity, for a tour “From Historic Prison to Artistic Vision.” Experience more tales of this intriguing prison history while visiting the old solitary area, viewing murals depicting the unique prison history and painted by two resident muralists. Enter the brick, mortar, and stone Grand Gallery with its windows still lined by prison bars and built entirely by prison labor. Meet an artist in a studio formerly a cellblock, and see an apartment, once 36 cells. You will definitely hear the echoes of thousands of inmates past. When done, browse in the Grand Gallery to purchase souvenirs of your prison tour and arts, crafts, and jewelry from the resident artists.

“The First Degree” is the full tour described above. It lasts approximately 4-5 hours with lunch. We are flexible and can work time-wise with your schedule.

“The Second Degree” and “The Third Degree” are tours for those with time constrictions.  

THE SECOND DEGREE TOUR: This is a 3.5 hour tour. On this tour groups may begin with lunch and a Power Point presentation during lunch and historical tales told by knowledgeable guides followed by the tour of Michigan’s First State Prison. Or, the group may begin with the tour of the old prison followed by lunch and further tales of Prison History. Again, on this tour, the mixture of the old prison and residence provides a fascinating architectural experience, art, and of course, the old prison as the group goes to solitary, the first cellblock built in Michigan, sees the old castle-like prison walls and guard turrets, and visits both a studio and an apartment carved from cell block that once housed 19th and 20th Century dangerous convicts. Browsing in The Old Prison Gift Shop follows the tour.

THE THIRD DEGREE TOUR: This is a 2.5 hour tour of Michigan’s First State Prison. On it, visitors get a thorough history from 1837-Present. Visuals include seven murals depicting the prison history and painted under a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council by Armory Arts Village muralists. Again, the building, solitary, and all sights mentioned above regarding the old prison, now Armory Arts Village are seen. Armory Arts Village is listed on MSN in the top ten most unique buildings in which to live. This tour also ends with browsing in the Old Prison Gift Shop.

 RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR ALL TOURS. Check our website for further information about price, menu, FAQ’s and to read the outstanding testimonials about our tour, created by founder/director Judy Gail Krasnow and her company, Jackson Journeys LLC.

COMBINATION TOURS: Jackson Journeys LLC is happy to arrange an itinerary for you both in Jackson and en route to and from Jackson. We also offer combination tours. For example:

We offer a tour called “From Prison to Paradise.” After the Prison tour, you drive ten-minutes to a Jackson gem — St. Demetrius Orthodox Church, with its utterly exquisite iconography, wood carving, delightful tour by Father Dusan, topped with “divine” homemade Baklava and coffee. This makes a perfect “all-day” journey to Jackson.

YOU MAY ALSO STAY OVERNIGHT, and after this full- day tour, go to your hotel, eat dinner at a local Jackson Restaurant, and let your dessert be a concert of your choice at the Jackson Symphony Orchestra Hall, where you can choose from 12 small musical ensembles including Jazz, Chamber Music, Country-Western, Eastern European (Klezmer), and several more.

THE NEXT DAY WE WILL BOOK FURTHER VENUES IN JACKSON, such as a tour of MIS, the Dahlem Nature Conservancy, Ye Ole Carriage Shop, Sparks Park, Cascades Falls and more. As you travel onward – east, west, south or north, we can arrange your itinerary.