Tuesday, November 25, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Sing Sing’s power plant could become prison museum

Sing Sing Museum

This Wednesday, June 11, 2014 photo shows an entrance to a former power plant at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, N.Y. The power plant, which supplied the juice for the prison's electric chair, may become a Sing Sing museum dedicated to the history of the infamous New York prison. (AP Photo/Jim Fitzgerald)

By
From page A11 | June 22, 2014 |

OSSINING, N.Y. — An old power plant at Sing Sing that once supplied the juice for the electric chair is being eyed as the site for a museum dedicated to the infamous prison.

Supporters envision thousands of tourists streaming “up the river” from New York to see artifacts including “Old Sparky,” as the chair was known; a metal “head cage” used when prisoners were transported; and a display of prisoners’ weapons, from axes made in metal shop to shivs fashioned from plastic forks.

“Sing Sing is a brand name,” said John Wunderlich, president of the Ossining Historical Society Museum. “You go anywhere in this country, in Europe even, everybody’s heard of Sing Sing.”

The prison’s fame stems from the many criminals who ended up at Sing Sing and, in some cases, never came back. They included Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed in 1953 on espionage charges related to passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.

The prison was also the last stop for many members of the notorious of Murder Incorporated, which acted as a contract killing squad for the Mafia in the 1930s and ’40s. And it was where prolific bank robber Willie Sutton used a makeshift ladder to escape in 1932.

Sing Sing’s reputation was burnished by Hollywood, which used it as a setting for such 1930s movies as “The Big House” and “Angels With Dirty Faces.” The lockup 30 miles up the Hudson from New York City also inspired the saying now synonymous with incarceration: “up the river.”

“It’s full of history, that’s for sure,” said Arthur Wolpinsky, a correction officer at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility since 1971 and the prison historian. “Electrocutions, riots, escape attempts. And so much has changed over the years. Inmates can have cable TV in their cells now.”

The power plant is separated from the 1,600 inmates by a high wall topped with guard towers. It provided a steady source of power from 1936 through at least 1963, the last time the electric chair was used.

And despite a commonly held notion from prison movies, Wolpinsky said, “The lights did not dim at Sing Sing when the electric chair was used.”

There are plenty of prison museums around the country, but most, like Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay and Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, are at closed facilities. It’s rare to have a museum at an active prison. One is the Angola Museum, just outside the gates of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, which draws about 2,600 visitors a month.

Museumgoers in Angola get a tour of the prison. That’s not envisioned at Sing Sing, said Jerry Faiella, executive director of Historic Hudson River Towns and a spokesman for the project. However, there are hopes of eventually showing museumgoers the original Sing Sing cellblock, built by prisoner labor in 1825 and now a ghostly shell on the river.

For now, plans include a mock-up of original cells —which were 7 feet long, 3½ feet wide and 6½ feet high — as well as a recreation of the old “death house,” complete with electric chair.

The layout, 22,000 square feet in all, will allow visitors to avoid that exhibit, however.

“There are some things people just don’t want to see,” said state Assemblywoman Sandra Galef, who represents the district.

A Sing Sing museum could eventually attract 250,000 people a year, supporters say. Hornblower, the company that sends boats to Alcatraz and the Statue of Liberty, is involved in the Sing Sing planning.

A Sing Sing museum had been proposed as recently as 2005, but the economic downturn stymied those plans, Galef said.

“Now we’re at a very good point for this,” she said. “The state’s economic plan calls for construction and tourism. We’re hoping for funds from various levels of government, private companies and individuals.”

The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said in a statement that it supports “any initiative that grows jobs, the economy and tourism, and especially when it helps showcase the history of one of our correctional facilities.”

First on the to-do list is to update earlier studies “and that will tell us how much we’ll need. Then we can apply for grants and so on,” Faiella said. A fundraiser was held this month. And plans for the museum will probably include a gift shop.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Soroptimists seek award applicants

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

 
Science comes to library – for all to see

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

Nichols plans free family concert in Napa

By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

 
Library schedules soap-making program

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

Church’s holiday soiree on Vacaville calendar

By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

 
Vacaville PD seeks VIPS program volunteers

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

 
 
Volunteers help Mission Solano pack for food giveaway

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Nov. 23, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: Nov. 22, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Nov. 23, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

Suisun City police log: Nov. 22, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
.

US / World

Incumbent Democrats lose in 2 close California Assembly races

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
VA fires Phoenix hospital director

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Iraqi troops take 2 towns from Islamic State group

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Iran nuclear talks stumble, extended until July

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Brown names assistant US attorney to high court

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Driver fatigue may have caused California crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment | Gallery

Israel resumes razing homes to punish attackers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
GOP wisdom shifts on immigration

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 8 Comments | Gallery

Under pressure, Hagel steps down as Pentagon chief

By Maureen Fissolo | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
No charges in Ferguson case; chaos fills streets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 62 Comments | Gallery

.

Opinion

 
Senate staff cuts reduce transparency

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

.

Living

Community Calendar: Nov. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
.

Entertainment

‘Wizard of Oz’ Cowardly Lion costume fetches $3M

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Miller puts own spin on longtime ‘GH’ character

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

‘Today’ looks to rebound from tough week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Review: Turmoil helps AC/DC shine on new album

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Guitarist: Leon Russell band’s instruments stolen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Sting tries to help his ailing Broadway musical

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

In wake of Spotify pullout, music industry debates streaming

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Bill Weir’s new CNN series to begin in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

TVGrid Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Forsett leads Ravens past Saints, 34-27

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Bills rout Jets 38-3 in rescheduled game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Even top NFL teams have taken steps back

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Aldon Smith helps lead in 49ers’ 3rd straight win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Rod Streater returns to practice for Raiders

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Taylor apologizes, won’t appeal NBA suspension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz on Hall of Fame ballot

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
No. 1 Kentucky gives Kansas a Top 25 tumble

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

LeBron on Cavaliers’ issues: “I stink”

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Police: Manziel’s entourage attacked fan at hotel

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Giants set record with $388,606 postseason shares

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Longtime NHL coach, executive Pat Quinn dies at 71

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Pablo Sandoval reaches multiyear deal with Red Sox

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
San Francisco turning to groundwater for its taps

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

South Carolina the new No. 1 in AP women’s hoops

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
.

Business

Budweiser gives Clydesdales holiday pink slip

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4, 3 Comments

 
Redbox raising DVD rental rates by 25 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

New FDA rules will put calorie counts on menus

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Unidentified country likely behind spying software

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Honda admits failing to report deaths, injuries

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
United Technologies CEO retires, succeeded by CFO

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Nike extends contract with USOC through 2020

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
High-end home sales surge in Southern California

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Rose is Rose Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Bridge Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Garfield Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Word Sleuth Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baby Blues Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4