Area Legislators Tour Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine

June 9, 2014

From left to right, Sen. John A. Kissel, Rep. Tami Zawistowski, and Rep Bill Simanski on June 5 toured Old New-Gate Prison in East Granby to review progress on the ongoing renovations of the historical site.

Area legislators on June 5 joined local and state officials for summit on the status of renovations to the historic Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine in East Granby.

Daniel Forrest, director of arts and historic preservation for the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development, led the tour of the grounds. Deputy DECD Commissioner Kip Bergstrom was on hand, along with State Historian Walter Woodward.

Safety renovations and lighting improvements are being made in the underground mines and throughout the prison grounds. The final phase of construction, renovations and archaeological digging on the site is set to begin by the end of June and end by early fall.

“It’s been one of the state’s most popular historic sites, with 20,000 visitors a year,” said Sen. John A. Kissel (R-Enfield). “We want to see it teeming with visitors once again. From its historic and entertainment value to its breathtaking ridgeline location, New-Gate is a true tourist destination. We can’t wait for the re-opening ceremony, which could come as early as this fall.”

“New-Gate is a gem to our community, our state and our nation,” said Rep. Bill Simanski (R-Granby). “New-Gate’s rich and interesting past should be shared with all Connecticut residents and tourists, and we look forward to have this magnificent piece of history being re-opened to the general public once again.”

“We appreciate the care with which the state has taken to rehabilitate this site the right way,” Rep. Tami Zawistowski (R-East Granby). “When the doors are re-opened, families from near and far will once again be able to enjoy the fun and historical experience that New-Gate provides. Local businesses will see the benefits from that uptick in tourism to our region.”

Local officials described to Commissioner Bergstrom the passion that East Granby residents have for New-Gate, and they urged state officials to launch a strong effort to provide the highest quality interpretive materials for visitors.

Originally a commercial copper mine for the British Colonies in 1705, New-Gate prison was established in 1773 after the Connecticut General Assembly ordered that the grounds become the state’s, and the nation’s, first prison. During the Revolutionary War, political prisoners were held at the facility. Women were first committed to serve sentences in 1824, but shortly thereafter, the facility was closed in 1827 due to its high operating costs and inhumane treatment of prisoners. After its closing, all mining operations had ceased.

  • Sen. John A. Kissel represents the 7th Senatorial District, which includes East Granby, Enfield, Somers, Suffield, Windsor Locks and portions of Granby and Windsor. On the web:
  • Rep. Bill Simanski represents the 62nd General Assembly district, covering Barkhamsted, Granby, Hartland and New Hartford. On the web:
  • Rep. Tami Zawistowski represents the 61st General Assembly district, covering East Granbuy, Suffield and Windsor. On the web: .