Staff Memories of “The Pine Street Hotel”

Staff Memories of “The Pine Street Hotel”

An unidentified man poses at the entrance to the guardhouse, circa 1907 at the Bucks County Prison. Photo taken from James A. Michener Art Museum Archives.

An unidentified man poses at the entrance to the guardhouse, circa 1907 at the Bucks County Prison. Photo taken from James A. Michener Art Museum Archives.

When you think of a museum, what comes to mind? A museum might be a place for you to retreat from the everyday and find solace in works of art. It might be a place that you go to socialize with friends, hear a lecture, or visit for entertainment. In contrast to these ideas, the Michener’s former site was the site of the Bucks County Prison. This brings to mind a very different environment that took place here decades ago.

It’s really ironic that I work today at the Michener. When I was in grade school, I had participated in summer camp across the street at the Mercer Museum. We were making salt boxes in the summer heat, and I remember being bitten by red ants as I sat against their large trees. As we were jumping up and down trying to avoid these persistent and annoying bugs, I looked across the street and noticed that the prisoners from the jail were getting into large trucks. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but the memory stuck with me for years, in addition to the large welts on my legs from those darn ants.

Later, when the prison closed, tours were offered to view the prison and my family and I decided to visit. I remember walking through the cold, dark hallways thinking how run down it was. Paint was peeling off the walls in huge chunks. The air smelled stale and damp. I never imagined that I would be working here one day, and using an office that was a former room to one of Warden’s children. My office looks onto the main courtyard across from the building that was once the control center of the prison. Now a gallery, prisoners were brought here to be placed in a holding cell, until they were moved into a permanent location.

You can learn more about the history of the prison, nicknamed “The Pine Street Hotel”, and the reforms that took place under Major John D. Warden Case in the book, The Pine Street Hotel by Lois Anderson. It’s a fascinating book that explains the prison’s nickname, along with stories of how the prison evolved in its treatment of prisoners. You can also visit Two Dozen Questions about the Museum to learn more.

If you were a Bucks County resident during the time the prison was open, we would love to hear your stories!

-Adrienne N. Romano, Director of Education, New Media and Interpretive Initiatives

2018-11-29T11:35:27+00:00February 1st, 2012|Behind the Scenes, Uncategorized|6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Joseph Lanza December 5, 2012 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    I was a child age 14 when I was placed in county jail,I was GOOD Friends with Major Case and have ALOT of memories Id love to share with someone, possibley even publishing them. I was in bucks county jail in the early seventy’s..I was the wardens mouse ” …I took care of his daughters pony and was friendly with his personal family, he was a FATHER figure to me…I learned alot in the Pine Street Hotel, and even got my highschool education there.. I was one of the original people that started the Today Program a drug program major Case and the commisioners started, Ive seen ALOT of things over the years inside of that jail,both good and bad, Major Case got me my first job when I was released with Bucks County,and Im still in the trade today 40 yrs later, if it wasnt for him, I would probebly be dead today, please respond as Id love to tell some more stories Joe Lanza St Augustine Florida

    • Adrienne Neszmelyi-Romano December 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm - Reply

      Hi Joe – how amazing! It’s always to interesting to hear from people that have been involved here at the time of the prison. I am forwarding your information to our librarian here. It would be great to hear more stories from you. Thank you for writing to us!
      – Adrienne Romano, Director of Education, New Media and Interpretive Intiatives

  2. Polly Case Glowatz June 14, 2013 at 9:43 pm - Reply

    Hi, I was 11 years old when my family moved into the Pine Stree Hotel. We were southerners from North Carolina and all of us six children were delighted to arrive in a blizzard. We were quickly outfitted with boots and coats. My father started as the warden and my mother was the new matron. The fact that my mother was on duty 24/7 necessitated having some help which is why some inmates did work in the wardens house. I eventually celebrated my experience by having my wedding in the jail. I am still married 39 years later to the same wonderful man. Some day he could tell the story of coming to see me and having to be buzzed into the sallyport and hearing the door clang behind him…

    • Adrienne Neszmelyi-Romano June 17, 2013 at 12:57 pm - Reply

      Hi Polly! Wow, thank you for sharing your story. It’s amazing to hear from a family member as I sit here in my office, which most likely was a former bedroom! –
      Adrienne Romano

    • christine e case February 16, 2014 at 10:09 am - Reply

      Polly..my cuz!! how funny to see this is now a museum and to find you on here! just in the last 2 weeks my son and some of his cousins have started a project to expand and update the Case family history, I think it was your sister Mary that did the original one! anyway how fun and great if we can connect your branch into this too! My son is Michael J Case (Tokyo), my niece Marie Christine Case and Jake Case are the designated ones so far. I will look for you on the net and Facebook (fb is how we all keep in touch) hope I can find you!! My dad lived with me the last year of his life..he was so sweet and nice you would nevah have recognized Uncle Arthur!!! LOLLOL

  3. Don Alexander October 28, 2015 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    I was in Bucks County Prison from the summer of 1972 until 1975, when I was paroled from the Rehabilitation Center. In November of 1972 (the 30th) I was responsible for a prison break that involved 12 inmates. I found the route out and personally cut the bars. I have never been in jail since, and I attribute that fact to Warden Case. He trusted me and showed me that there was a bigger life out there than jail. And this was AFTER I caused him all the problems associated with the escape. My time there was the best thing that could have happened to me at that point in my life.

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