Essex County Jail Annex / NJ

Originally constructed in 1862 to hold Confederate prisoners of war, the Essex County Jail Annex functioned as a state penitentiary for many years before eventually being replaced by a new facility to alleviate overcrowding.
The penitentiary was largely self-sufficient. As late as the 1970’s inmates still tended to apple and peach orchards on the grounds, and fields on the lower parts of the rolling grounds contained farmland. A piggery and chicken coop also were located at the jail, but these were eventually abandoned and torn down. The county took over the facility eventually and the Essex County Penitentiary became the Essex County Correction Center and housed mostly sentenced inmates. The jail eventually merged with the Essex County Jail in Newark in the early 1980s and was rechristened the Essex County Jail Annex, a name it would carry for the rest of its term.

The prison population changed during this time period. Suddenly more violent prisoners were housed on the grounds, many awaiting sentencing. The Essex County Jail Annex was filled with deplorable conditions. Buildings were falling apart and overcrowding was a massive issue. At its peak the jail housed more than 1,800 beds. Essex County finally finished construction of a new prison in Newark in 2003, and all county lockup services were transferred to this new address and the jail in Caldwell was closed.

Shortly thereafter talks began of selling the land and razing the old buildings in favor of town homes. After a few years of red tape and litigations the deal was inked and demolition began.

Source: Essex Mountain Sanatorium

The displayed photos were shot in 2010.

3 Responses to “Essex County Jail Annex / NJ”

  1. Floyd Anstett 25. Juli 2012 23:56 #

    Good post!

  2. ForgottenEssex (EsseXploreR) 30. März 2014 17:55 #

    You have a few errors in your history. The first building on the property was built in 1873, with additions built in 1882 and the 1890’s. It also underwent some serious internal renovations in the 1930’s, leaving only the structural beams of the old building intact. It was never a state prison, and none of the names you give are accurate. It was opened as the Essex County Jail Annex, and was only ever alternatively referred to as the Essex County Penitentiary. Finally, it didn’t fully close until 2004.

    • Roman 1. April 2014 20:36 #

      Thanks pal,

      I have tried to give a representation of what information I could retrieve from the internet, without admittedly performing some deeper investigations myself. I am thus grateful for your provided corrections and will update the text in due time.
      I have seen that you are active in the field as well, nice work!

      Hope to run into you one time,

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